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R-MC Hosts Japanese Debaters

Mar 05, 2018


debaters, President Lindgren and Ruth BeermanThe Randolph-Macon College Franklin Debating Society hosted two Japanese debaters February 25-27, 2018. A parliamentary debate was held February 26 in the Dalton Room in Birdsong Hall to a full crowd. The evening debate between R-MC students Sydney Hinkle '18 and Lia Clark '20 and Japanese students Kanaru Sato (University of Tokyo) and Takuya Higuchi (Rikkyo University) was entertaining and lively. The topic of the debate was: Should Hate Speech be Punished?

A Century of Cultural Exchange
"The Japanese come to the U.S. every other year to debate. This year, R-MC is one of seven colleges and universities they will visit," says Communication Studies Professor Ruth Beerman, assistant debate and forensics coach for the Franklin Debating Society. "The tour is sponsored by the Committee on International Discussion and Debate, in partnership with the National Communication Association, which also organizes the British debates. The CIDD tours span almost a century and promote cultural exchange. R-MC has proudly hosted teams for almost 20 years."

A Spirited Debate
After an engaging hour of debate and floor speeches, in typical Parliamentary form Beerman asked for a division of the House. Dividing the House entails the audience members voting by moving to the side of the room that they thought made better arguments. The audience voted almost 2:1 in favor of the touring Japanese debaters.

Hinkle (Asian studies and theatre major; Japanese studies and religious studies minor) and Clark (biology and behavioral neuroscience major; psychology minor) were in top form during the debates, says Beerman.

"Sydney and Lia presented a strong case for why hate speech is problematic, including being internationally recognized as harmful and the psychological impacts of hateful speech on individuals and communities," says Beerman. "Although R-MC lost the debate from a competitive standpoint, they represented R-MC with poise, confidence and collegiality. I am very proud of our students."

Campus Connections
Sato and Higuchi were also special guests in two Intermediate Japanese classes taught by R-MC Professor Yoshiko Himata, where they joined students in conversation and made origami figures.

"It was wonderful to have them with us," says Himata. "Our students found it very enriching to practice their language skills with native speakers and meet new friends."

Beerman says that Sato and Higuchi also made time for sightseeing during their visit to Randolph-Macon.

"We walked around the Virginia Capitol building, took in the sights along Monument Avenue, and dined in Carytown," says Beerman. "It was a pleasure to have Kanaru and Takuya with us for a couple of days."

The Franklin Debating Society
Fostering the invaluable skills of public speaking and reasoned discourse, the Franklin Debating Society also gives students the opportunity to participate in lively debate competitions. Franklin Debating Society members compete intercollegiately in debate and a range of forensics activities. The Society annually hosts the touring British debaters as well as a 19th Century-style debating event. English and Communication Studies Professor Ted Sheckels and Communication Studies Professor Ruth Beerman coach the Franklin Debating Society.