Missouri State debate students are National Grand Prix champions

Submitted to Branson Globe

Missouri State University students claimed two major wins at the National Grand Prix debate tournament June 6-7. The students are part of the Holt V. Spicer Debate Forum, which has regularly competed against schools such as Harvard University and Dartmouth College.

The Grand Prix, hosted by MSU and originally scheduled for March 14-15, took place online June 6-7 due to COVID-19.

Gabe Morrison graduated in May just before the tournament occurred. He was still eligible to compete, however, and Morrison won the final debate of the National Forensics Association Lincoln Douglas Debate Grand Prix.

“In the last debate, I defended an unconventional measure: federally-funded climate or environmental aesthetics workshops,” Morrison said.

Morrison said climate change is a problem with such a massive scale, it is difficult to imagine how individuals, or even larger communities, could meaningfully contribute to a sustainable future.

“My research suggested that sustainability became much more conceivable after environmental workshops are dispensed through hands-on, collaborative experience,” Morrison said. “Winning the final round was a little jarring. I didn’t fully process what happened until the next morning.”

Energy and climate policy are two of Morrison’s favorite areas of research.

“I suppose that didn’t hurt,” he said.

Morrison majored in philosophy with a minor in English. He is confident his debate skills could help him succeed in a variety of fields, including public policy, public relations and advertising.

Freshmen Brenden Lucas won the junior varsity division of the tournament, though Dr. Eric Morris, director of the Spicer Debate Fourm, says the division was additionally championed by junior Chase Coger.

“The common practice is not to hold a final round when the competitors are from the same school, even though Brenden was higher seeded coming into finals,” Morris said.

Morris said three other Missouri State Students also qualified for elimination rounds in an open division: freshman Sam Cade and sophomores Peyton Reeves and Michael Waggoner. They were eliminated before the final round or the seventh elimination.

The Holt V. Spicer Debate Forum welcomes all Missouri State students. To join, students can enroll in COM 321 or contact Dr. Morris at ericmorris@missouristate.edu. Debate students will begin competing again in September.

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