TU debaters win national championship

Baltimore natives are first African-American champions in tournament history

TOWSON, Md. (April 10, 2008)— For the first time ever, two African-American debaters have become National College Debate champions by winning the CEDA National Championship.

Baltimore natives Dayvon Love and Deven Cooper are members of Towson University’s Speech and Debate Team, as well as alumni of the Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL).

Dayvon Love and Deven Cooper
TU debate champions Dayvon Love, left, and Deven Cooper.

Love and Cooper won round after round in the tournament of 183 teams. They trounced top-seeded teams from schools like Missouri State University and University of Northern Iowa before going on to defeat a Kansas University team 7-4 in the finals.

"I am just beside myself,” said Pam Spiliadis, director of the Baltimore Urban Debate League. “This is of course an amazing achievement for Deven and Dayvon and one they so deserve, but I can't help feeling that is also a momentous day for Baltimore, for young people from urban communities all across this nation who are too often the voices that are never heard. Not this time!”

Love and Cooper’s winning arguments pushed the limits of traditional debate. Rather than addressing this year’s topic, the Towson team took the moral position that discussions of liberation should take precedence over detached policy discussions. "This is a historic victory that has important implications for institutions like debate. Towson's victories suggest that there are ways to challenge dominant structures and speak truth to power,” said Chris Baron, one of Towson’s debate coaches. "I am so proud of our entire team, whose bravery, brilliance and determination speaks volumes to what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of this incredibly competitive activity."

Both Love and Cooper began debating in high school when they joined the Baltimore Urban Debate League and their school teams, at Forest Park and Lake Clifton high schools, respectively. Love and Cooper are both leaders in the Towson and BUDL debate communities, working as mentors and coaches to high school and middle school students following in their footsteps.

BUDL was founded in 1999 as part of a national initiative driven by the Open Society Institute to bring debate back into the urban classroom. Its mission is to enrich the academic experience of students from Baltimore City’s public schools through participation in team policy debate. Through debate, students become engaged learners, critical thinkers and citizens and leaders who are effective advocates for themselves and their communities.




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