From October 13-16, Patrick Henry College students competed in the inaugural Vanderbilt Dialogues on Democracy and Elections. The event charged students to research and offer proposals on election policy reform before a panel of experts from the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy.
Universities sent teams of three or four students each to give 10 minute rehearsed presentations detailing their proposals, and to receive an additional 10 minutes of Q&A where the students provided an oral defense of their ideas. These questions were often hard hitting, and students had to make their answers count as they were only given one chance to speak. There's a lot that rode on the perfection of their initial presentation, therefore, and on the broad research students conducted to prepare for any potential question that might arise in the Q&A portion. The teams with the best overall performances were selected to give their presentation one more time in a final round.
PHC excelled in its performance, and students Christian Castro, Julianne Kidd, and and Sarah Schmidtler were selected to advance to finals! As finalists, they were given an additional hour to modify their presentation to be more directly competitive with their final opponents. The other PHC team, comprised of Josiah Todd, Gage Neudigate, and Jonathan Marsalis, was instrumental in helping Castro/Kidd/Schmidtler prepare for their final presentation.
This event is one of many Civic Debate events in the "present and defend" style, and it's a great mirror for what students will be expected to do in most post-graduate settings. Next semester, the Schuman Challenge hosted by the EU Delegation in Washington D.C. will be hosting a similar event on a topic yet to be announced.
PHC was proud to be a finalist at the event; it's a fantastic end result!