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UNT Debate Team Shines at International Tournament in Dublin

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DENTON, TX — The University of North Texas (UNT) Debate team made a notable appearance at the International Forensics Association (IFA) tournament in Dublin, Ireland, marking their first foray into international competition. The team’s director and University Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, Brian Lain, praised the team’s performance, noting that each member competed with a “do-or-die mindset.”

The IFA tournament, which has been fostering competitive speech and debate for over three decades, attracted participants from more than 40 colleges and universities across the globe. The events ranged from team and individual debates to impromptu speaking and dramatic interpretation, with more than 100 debaters competing in the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) category alone.

Gianfranco Ladagga, a senior political science major at UNT, secured eighth place in the IPDA format. This challenging format required debaters to prepare on a randomly assigned topic within just 30 minutes. Ladagga commented on the intensity of the competition, noting that it was significantly stronger than his previous experiences.

The international setting provided UNT students with a unique perspective on speech and debate, enhancing their understanding of global discourse. Ladagga shared insights on the differences in speech styles between the U.S. and Ireland, and the enriching exchange of views on American law from an international standpoint.

Alaia Snell, a senior double-majoring in English literature and economics, achieved fourth place in Extemporaneous Speaking, the second-most-popular event of the tournament. Snell, who also ranked in the top 16 in the IPDA category, appreciated Dublin’s rich tradition of debate and public discourse, which complemented her academic focus on colonialism and race.

In addition to the competition, the UNT team attended a public debate at Trinity College, home to the world’s oldest collegiate debate society. This experience underscored the universal nature of debate, a sentiment echoed by Snell who found the global conversation on various topics both heartwarming and intellectually stimulating.

The UNT Debate team’s successful participation in the IFA tournament not only highlighted their debating skills but also broadened their educational horizons, connecting them with diverse cultures and perspectives.

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