Alumni Debate Weekend - R: Endorse the Benedict Option

When Saint Benedict of Nursia left the darkness of Rome to pray in solitude, he founded an order of monks. This order is credited today with preserving theChristian traditions and helping to rebuild a Christian society in Europe. The success attributed to Saint Benedict is what motivates many people's desire to follow in his footsteps today. Specifically, this desire is to develop a distinct community aimed at preserving a moral lifestyle that is being outpaced in the rapidly changing world.

However, in the pursuit to protect one's religion or lifestyle, is it valiant to start anew with like-minded individuals, or cowardly to condemn the society at large? When does one lose enough hope in the collective society to wish to sever his ties and to build his or her own? In a democratic society, is it better to fight to persuade your peers to embrace your values than to abandon them? Moreover, in abandoning society, does it only become more intolerable for those like-minded individuals left behind?     

Join us this Friday, February 17th at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room to discuss all this and more! All are welcome!


R: Marry Young

For many people, one of the biggest joys in life is to get married and start a family. However, if not carefully fostered, marriage can be a significant burden both emotionally and financially. Does time bring with it thetools for a successful marriage? In other words, should a person wait until he or she has a strong financial footing before seeking a spouse? Or is it important to 'tie the knot' early so a couple can develop financial stability together?   

Additionally, the likelihood of having a lasting marriage seems to be dependent on age as well. Statistics show that couples who marry when under 24 years of age are twice as likely to get divorced. What effects does a broken marriage have on society? Is it better to never have been married than to potentially divide a family through separation?

Join us this Wednesday, February 8th at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room to discuss all this and more! All are welcome!


R: Submit to Hierarchy

It is all too common for people to associate hierarchy with centuries old kings and queens, pharaohs, and emperors. However, even today we are surrounded by such systematic ordering based on rank. In fact, one does not need to look any further than corporations, churches, court systems, and even family structure to see forms of hierarchy in today's world.

Although modern forms of hierarchy are clearly present, the effects of such a societal structure are not so obvious. Do humans benefit from being assigned a rank among their peers? Or, since all men are created equal, should they remain at an equal status in society? In a broader sense, is hierarchy necessary to maintain tradition in a rapidly changing world? Can hierarchy be used as a tool to suppress those ranked low among the spectrum? Or does having seemingly layered authority bring about a more efficient and productive society?

Join us this Wednesday, February 1st at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room to discuss all this and more! All are welcome!


R: Let the North Pole Melt

Climate change carries with it sectarian implications and political baggage that is difficult to overcome. It is taken as a fact in many circles and vehemently denied in others. Climate change is a point of contention not only with regard to the politicization of science but also because it is a presupposition of many governmental policies and laws. When treating climate change in a political context, we must ask to what extent humans have a responsibility to preserve Earth as it was before significant industrialization and to what extent it is admissible to shape Earth to human needs. Ought we take action to counteract the effects of industrialization? Ought humans steward natural resources in a way that alters the environmental landscape for our betterment?

Moreover, we must balance the good of preserving resources with the good of improving human quality of life. Is it justifiable to restrict the use of fossil fuels when such use would provide a healthier and more productive life for billions of people in developing countries? Or does overuse of natural resources only harm the regions in which these resources are harvested and used? We will debate these and many more questions this Wednesday December 7th at 7:30 p.m. in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room! All are welcome!


R: Secession is a State's Right

The subject of secession is often treated with a certain level dismissiveness and disdain. Those who entertain it are viewed as dangerous, while those who endorse it are viewed as outright insane. In 2016, it is simply beyond the pale to discuss secession in any meaningful way. 

Secession is one of the many “Solved Issues” of our time. If you were to bring up the subject in conversation, you might hear this reply: “Didn’t the Civil War resolve this question?” Of course, violence never provides a substantive answer in a debate. It simply ends the debate. And so, the problem of secession remains unresolved. 
But do not despair, for what fun would this life be without unresolved questions? This Thursday at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room, the Federalist Party will debate R: Secession is a State’s Right

Those in the Affirmative should consider both the philosophical and historical legacy of secession in the U.S. and beyond. What does it mean to accede to and secede from a government? What implications does secession have for the maintenance of an effective government? How far should the principle of secession be followed? After all, anarchists such as Murray Rothbard have suggested it reaches as far as the individual. Was the American War for Independence really an act of secession? Is it possible (or desirable) to separate the case for secession from the Confederate States of America?  

Those in the Negative must do more than simply highlight the practical difficulties of secession. They too need to answer what it means to accede to a governing institution? Did America secede from the British Empire? What authority did the States have to ratify the Constitution? Are there no rights for aggrieved parties to depart from an arrangement they view as unsatisfactory? Should borders be conceived of as sacred? Is not secession a bulwark against federal tyranny and overreach? Why is a massive country of 320 million people preferable to a collection of smaller, independent states?  

These and many other questions will be addressed at this week’s debate. Hope to see you there!