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Peaslee Debate Society

Peaslee members Miriam Pierson and Will Meyer win APDA National Championships

in Around Campus/News by

Last weekend, Miriam Pierson ’18 and Will Meyer ’17 won the American Parliamentary Debate Association National Championships at Rutgers University. This marks the first time both a female and liberal arts college have won nationals in nearly twenty years. The debate society brought two other teams to the tournament consisting of nearly 100 teams.

Pierson and Meyer debated a case on epistemology against the Yale Debate Association in the final round.

“Miriam and I tend to be stronger on topics like Politics and International Relations, so we were a bit nervous when they announced the topic. But it ended up being one of the best round I’ve ever been a part of and we pulled it off. To go out like that, it was like something out of a dream,” said Meyer.  said.

After eight years of debating, this is the last tournament that Meyer will compete in.

“While I’ve had success before I’ve never achieved anything like this. It’s amazingly gratifying to end my debate career by winning the National Championships. It was made all the more special to do it with Miriam, who is an phenomenal debater and one of my best friends at Swarthmore,” he continued. “I literally fell out of my chair. I was that excited.”

Pierson noted that the win was a team effort.

“It was a great reward after everyone on our team had put so much into preparing for the tournament. One of the main reasons we’ve been uniquely successful despite being a small school is that we’ve always had a very close-knit community including a lot of alums who work to support us,” added Pierson.

Meyer has had eight years of competitive debate experience before winning. As for Pierson, she began debating her freshman year of high school as a way to improve her public speaking skills and get rid of her performance anxiety.

“I used to have bad performance anxiety; for example, I was always unable to remember the notes to pieces I had practiced a thousand times at piano recitals because I was too nervous. Debate wasn’t always an activity that was easy for me, but doing debate has taken me out of my comfort zone and made me more confident in myself,” she shared.

Pierson and Meyer further reflected on their time debating in Peaslee.

“Peaslee has been the defining part of my Swarthmore experience. I’m so grateful for all that the resources and opportunities the team has provided for me. I’ve gotten to travel all across the country and around the world doing what I love, and you can’t beat that. Most importantly, I’ve made so many great friends on this team. Being able to share our victory with them this weekend and bring a National Championship back to Swarthmore after 20 years was really a dream come true.” said Meyer.

Pierson remarked on how debate has improved her real-world skills.

“I’ve learned almost as much from doing debate as I have from all of my classes. Debating teaches you to think on your feet, challenge other people’s ideas, and express yourself clearly. But one of the main advantages is that debate forces you to think about questions outside of your major or minor,” echoed Pierson. “It’s also introduced me to some incredibly smart people from around the country who I know will be lifelong friends.”

This win marks the end of Peaslee’s debate season, and both Pierson and Meyer hope to see the Peaslee Debate Society excel into the future.

Debate team brings home hardware from nationals

in Around Campus/News/Uncategorized by

The Peaslee Debate Society completed one of its most successful seasons in recent history with impressive results at the American Parliamentary Debate Association Nationals. The tournament, which was held at the College of New Jersey on April 17-19, saw 85 varsity pairs and 47 novice pairs compete for team and individual titles. Swarthmore’s B team, consisting of Patrick Holland ’17 and Miriam Pierson ’18, made an underdog run to the octofinals, earning 12th place. Pierson’s success earned her the tournament’s top Novice Speaker award, and she clinched the national Novice of the Year award as a result.

Pierson became the first woman to win the prestigious award since a Brandeis woman earned the title in 2005. She is the second Peaslee member to be named Novice of the Year, after Andrew Waks ’13 accomplished it in 2012. In winning the top Novice Speaker position at nationals, Pierson finished ahead of seven male competitors, with the next-highest woman slotting in ninth place. Not only was she named the top novice, but she also was selected as the seventh-best debater in the entire nationals tournament. The six opponents she was placed behind hailed from Yale, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins.

Pierson’s team result with Holland was particularly strong, as well. The pair had to complete six rounds of debates across the first two days of competition in order to qualify for the round of sixteen. At the Franklin & Marshall tournament, Holland and Pierson reached the quarterfinals and finished eighth out of 26 pairs.

While nationals marked Holland’s second top-15 result of the season, it was Pierson’s third, along with four top-five showings in novice team events. She has been named top novice speaker at four tournaments, including nationals, and was rated in the top ten no fewer than 14 times.

Jodie Goodman ’16, who was the #10 individual speaker in the nation last year, was part of four top 10-finishing pairs and received top five individual honors at American and William & Mary. She currently sits in 39th in the national Speaker of the Year competition.

Swarthmore is ranked #22 in the nation by the APDA, slotted between Boston University and Georgetown. Yale holds the top position, well clear of the competition.

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