Towson University Debate Team members Ameena Ruffin ‘15 and Korey Johnson ’16 won the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) national championship, March 24, at Indiana University. “Ruffin and Johnson are the first African American women’s team to win a national tournament,” according to Mike Davis, CEDA president. “No African American woman has ever won our tournament before.”
The Towson team beat Oklahoma in the final round to claim the national title. In the course of the tournament the Towson team bested teams from elite schools including Harvard, Trinity, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Wayne State, Cal State Fullerton, Florida, Bard College, Pepperdine, Sacramento State, Vanderbilt, NYU and more.
Ameena and Korey also earned a first round bid to the 2014 National Debate Tournament designating them as one of the top 16 teams in the country. The National Debate Tournament takes place in Bloomington, Indiana March 28 through April 1. Additionally, Ruffin placed 12th and Johnson placed 15th in the individual rankings.
“We are thrilled and very proud of Ameena and Korey on this amazing accomplishment,” said Towson University College of Fine Arts and Communication Dean Susan Picinich. “Their historic success is exemplified by their passion, dedication and commitment to the art of debate and the leadership of Towson University’s debate coaching staff Amber Kelsie and Ignacio Evans.”
“It requires a tremendous amount of work,” says Johnson. “I’m sure I do about four or five hours of preparation and practicing on a normal day.” All of this top-level competition has only honed the students’ skills, according to Johnson. “I think we’ve improved by learning what type of debaters we are, and playing to our strengths,” she says. “I have learned to do tremendous amounts of work while still taking care of myself and not stressing out too much.”
The National Debate Tournament is an invitation only national championship for collegiate policy debate in the United States. The national committee selects 16 teams and awards them a First Round At-Large Bid. These 16 teams are generally considered to be the best debate teams in the nation. The 2014 First Round Teams include Cal-Berkeley, Georgetown (2), Harvard (2), Kansas, Mary Washington, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Wake Forest (2), West Georgia and Towson University.
Students in the Towson University Forensics program participate in both speech and debate activities. Students who compete for the team travel to local, regional and national tournaments to engage in individual events, parliamentary debate and/or policy debate. Students have the opportunity to perform speeches and exhibition debates for the campus and local community in the form of performance showcases and public debates.