Loyola Marymount University held its first annual Social Justice Debate series this October, culminating in the final of the first round on October 26 on campus at LMU. The debate series was sponsored by LMU’s Communication Arts & Advocacy Program (CAPP) in partnership with George Washington University and Morehouse College, and was developed as a series of civic debate conferences that focus on social justice issues and scholarship. The final round’s topic centered around whether university speech regulations that are ostensibly designed to protect minorities have an unintended consequence of furthering racial oppression, and resulted in a lively discussion.
The recently renamed CAAP has a stated mission to provide all LMU students with the opportunity to engage in public discourse, academic deliberation, social justice advocacy, and artistic expression. Within this framework, the CAAP has laboratories of public discourse that engage students to strengthen their skills in civic performance, research, rhetoric, teamwork, and leadership by facilitating participation in competition, civic engagement, service, and instruction. Hosting and participating in debate competitions is an integral part of CAAP, as the LMU Debate Team is contained within the program.
With a wide-ranging travel schedule, the LMU Debate Team often competes away from home at both national and international conference, so this debate series gave visitors a unique opportunity to see our students advocate for real issues relevant to our student body on campus at LMU. In addition, the programming for the series’ focus on social justice issues made the event feel particularly at home on our campus with the social justice advocacy values that our university prides itself on upholding.
The series brought in participation from a diverse group of LMU debaters. Representatives across class years and majors participated in the debates throughout the week; the final debate pitted a team of three freshman against three upperclassmen women. The debaters’ diverse backgrounds contributed to their ability to approach the prompt from unique viewpoints and argue fervently for their side.
The first round of the series of debates was held at LMU, with subsequent debate conferences being held at Morehouse and George Washington. The next series of debates will be held at Morehouse College on November 16.
Photos by Jason Munoz.