(Photo courtesy of Scott Hamilton Kennedy)
By: Thomas Jones, Staff Reporter
This past week, Regis University hosted its third annual Anti-Oppression week. The Regis University Debate team participated by opening up their bi-weekly practices, occurring on Tuesday and Thursday, to the broader Regis community, and focusing their practices on the issue of gentrification which Regis University and its surrounding community faces, as well as many other communities throughout the United States.
Starting on Tuesday at 5:00 PM in Loyola 33, the debate team hosted a documentary screening of “The Garden,” a film which focuses on a 14 acre South-Central LA community garden, which at the time was the largest urban garden in the United States, and is under threat of being removed and mostly sold off to private industry except for a small section being kept for the community as a dirt soccer field. Some of the films main themes were community activism, race relations, money in politics and the development of impoverished communities leading to gentrification. There was a large turn out for this event, with every chair in Loyola 33 filled as well as several spots on the floor due to the number of people in attendance.
With this film being used as an introduction into some of the issues within gentrification, the debate team held a public debate on Thursday at 5:00 PM in the same room which focused specifically on this issue. This event was also very well attended, even more so than the documentary screening, with many chairs brought in from other rooms to accommodate the crowd. The topic was, “This house, as local and state governments, would provide financial assistance to prevent the process of gentrification.” The eight debaters who participated in the event were given the topic a day in advance to be able to do some research on the issue, however, the debaters did not know which side of the topic they would be arguing until they arrived in the room to debate. After the debaters drew for sides they were then given fifteen minutes to prepare and come up with arguments before the debate started.
During the time the debaters prepped, two senior debate team members, Siena Ruggeri and David Cecil-Few, introduced the British Parliamentary format as well as the topic for the debate. The first team to speak in support of the topic is called opening government and consisted of one sophomore debater, Caterina Cheshire, and one freshman debater, Evanjalina Matoy. The second team to speak is called opening opposition and opposes the topic; this team consisted of two freshman debaters, Nicholas Aranda and Thomas Jones. After these two teams are finished with their four speeches, what is called the ‘top half’ of the debate is concluded, and the debate then progresses onto the final two teams called the ‘bottom half’ of the debate. The team to speak in support of the motion on the bottom half of the debate, called closing government, consisted of one sophomore debater, Selihom Andarge, and one junior year debater, Andy Nguyen. The bottom half team which speaks in opposition to the topic, and the last team to speak in the debate as a whole, is called closing opposition; this team consisted of senior year debater, Allison Foust, and sophomore debater Timothy Smith.
The debate lasted around an hour from start to finish, with the whole event taking an hour and thirty minutes, concluding at 6:30. All eight debaters did a great job presenting the arguments on their respective sides and offered good insight into the issues of gentrification, which is no doubt very real to the Regis community as well as it’s surrounding neighbors.