Old School

English: The Cathedral of Learning at the Univ...
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Talking with one of my students the other night after Adelphi brought up this old public debate I helped conduct when I was a student at the University of Pittsburgh.

As a case study for public argument, we were looking at David Horowitz and his crusade to make sure that every college student in the United States had a bill of rights to protect them from "liberal" professors who would grade them down for having conservative views. My friend John and I decided a public debate on this topic would be a great final project. All of the students in the courses worked in some capacity to ensure this debate happened.

The room is the English Nationality classroom which is modeled after the house of commons in the UK. Pitt has several of these rooms on campus in the Cathedral of Learning, the center building on campus, pictured here.

This was also the first (and probably only) BP/WUDC format debate to take place on that campus, at least to my knowledge. Pitt has a very old and very distinguished policy debate program housed in the communication department.

These students were enrolled in 2 sections of the Argument course, which is an introductory course on how to argue along with some argument theory from the American speech communication trajectory.

We were really happy to get the provost of the University to attend the debate and respond to the debate from the perspective of the University. It's pretty incredible what he told us about the relationship of Pitt to the Academic Bill of Rights movement. It's worth checking out.

What do you think? Did they do a good job? This is the first debate in front of a public audience that many of them have ever done. How live is this issue of student rights in the US or the world today?

This debate took place in April of 2007.


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