DEBATE CLUB ADAPTS, DISCUSSES
By Lee Cusack
With a decrease in club activity throughout Masco, the Debate Club has shifted away from typical debate formats to keep itself running with fewer participants.
The Debate Club has been running for four years, focusing on debates with two, usually large, groups. However, with fewer people attending the club can’t form the groups needed for the usual debate. Not wanting to give up, the club has adopted a new style of debate. Previously, a topic was introduced and two teams would research and debate it. Now, a topic is introduced, and the present members discuss their opinions on the topic in a more casual, constructive conversation.
A potential reason for the decrease in attendance in Debate Club may be the nervousness that surrounds debating for many students. The new discussion format helps alleviate some of that nervousness, as nobody is truly arguing with anybody else, which may lead to more people returning, or coming for the first time, to participate in the club.
“I think the idea of debate is nerve-wracking for people who haven’t done it before,” said Debate Club captain senior Sara Tocci. “Something that resembles more of a discussion that leads into a debate may be better for easing people in.”
However, nerves are not the only reason that many Masco clubs are seeing a drop in participation. Because there is only after-school help on Tuesdays and Thursdays, clubs have been competing to meet on those days and gain enough members.
“People are not attending now because they're in sports, and the new schedule we have limits the amount of times in the schedule where we can have club meetings,” said Debate Club advisor Rebecca Delmonico. “[The Debate Club] competes with so many of the options that students at Masco have for extracurriculars, and students may sign up for multiple activities without realizing that it’s going to conflict with their schedule.”
Though the new discussion format has helped the club continue to run, it is not without its disadvantages.
“Part of the Debate Club is learning how to formally debate, which can be pretty different from a normal conversation. Both are amazing options, and I'm so glad we have gotten to explore debate through a more relaxed lens,” said Debate Club captain sophomore Sophie Gustafson. “However, I think it's important to honor both styles of communication with others. ”
Even with this disadvantage, the new format is still helpful to both the students who attend and the club as a whole, as it gives students a different outlook on conversation, and is helping the club navigate through winter sports season.
“Both methods of conversation are really important, just in different ways,” said Gustafson. “This is a super interesting alternative to a classic debate. As much as the whole low enrollment situation has been hard for everyone involved in clubs, I think it has challenged us to think outside the box. If numbers weren't low, I'm not sure we would have done this in the first place.”
The Debate Club has managed to keep running through the fall and winter sports seasons, thanks to the new discussion format, and has gained a new outlook on how to utilize parts of a debate, which they will continue to take advantage of in the future.