Twenty high school boys and girls, all dressed up in suits and ties, sit at individual desks in a classroom with backpacks open and briefcases unclasped. They each have either a laptop, tablet or legal pad propped up on their desks, papers and notepads with small and rapidly scribbled handwriting stick to the sides of each. The desks are all in neat rows, each having a nameplate and a now tired student that has been sitting here for over three hours, debating, arguing, and rebutting one another. It is almost over. A boy stands at the front of the room, his suit is loose and multiple pens are sticking out of his breast and pants pockets. It is debate, and this is the final round for qualifying for state in the congress division.
“The way congress works is there’s not one specific topic. In congress there’s a whole set docket of, in UIL’s case, 20 pieces of legislation. You’re in a session with a bunch of other congress people and the way you win is you give speeches on legislation. So, let’s say within a round of three hours you can get through several pieces of legislation. You can only speak once on one side for some legislation, but overall there’s not one specific topic so you usually cover a broad spectrum of legislation,” said senior Husain Dhoon.
Dhoon and his teammates, senior Ping Toong and junior Siddhant Puranik, qualified for UIL’s Congressional state event in debate at the regional tournament at Bellaire High School on Nov. 8.
“The qualification round itself was very, very competitive. There were national finalists and national semi-finalists there. Pretty much the best in the nation from our region were all competing for spots to go to state, so it was a very competitive round. It was also a really good experience and exposure to national circuit level players,” said Toong.
Tompkins Debate had very good success at the UIL state qualification tournament. Toong placed sixth, Dhoon placed seventh and Puranik placed eighth in congress, and they all qualified for the UIL state tournament.
“The thing about state for debate is that there’s two state competitions. One is UIL state and the other is Texas Forensic Association or TFA state. So, I’m still on my way for qualifying for Congress in TFA state, but UIL state qualifications are done in the same way that nationals are done. There’s a qualification tournament rather than you building up points like in UIL,” said Dhoon.
So far, the Tompkins Debate Team has had eight people qualify for TFA state in 15 different events and three people qualify for one event in UIL. However, there are still a number of tournaments the team is going to be competing in next semester and those numbers are likely to rise.
“The year has been going very well as a whole we’ve swept every tournament we’ve been to. I already got my congress and foreign extemporary qualification first semester and so have others on the team. It’s been a good year in terms of qualifications and getting the numbers in for those who can go to these tournaments,” said Toong.