By Adrian Juarez
Students at East Los Angeles College have all been victims of budget cuts, from low course availability to higher fees and tuition. Our student resources continue to evaporate a little more each semester with often no notice or public explanation.
One team in particular that was disbanded for no apparent reason was ELAC’s Speech 106 policy debate team, coached by Professor Nadar Haddad who founded the team in 2007.
Not to be confused with ELAC’s other Speech 106 team which focuses on prepared performance style speeches. ELAC’s policy debate team was competing at high level debate tournaments with incredible success.
The team had notable wins over Harvard and also saw many of its former members transfer easily to four year universities.
When the program was formed ELAC provided $22,000 per year in funding, that later went down to only $8,000 per year according to Campus News reports. This severely limited the team’s ability to compete outside of local tournaments, and in turn slowed the team’s progress down until budget cuts forced the disbandment of our policy debate team.
Students at ELAC deserve to once again have a policy debate team. Members of the team cultivate sharp critical thinking skills and the ability to attack a topic from different angles. College students are required to research and challenge our minds, policy debate is the perfect median students can use to harness those abilities.
Policy debaters are excellent at discovering a wealth of knowledge and information in a matter of minutes during competition. Debaters are also great public and extemporaneous speakers.
There are a lot of important issues ELAC needs to address, but taking away a program that increases a student’s potential of all around academic success is absurd. ELAC’s policy debate team should return so that current and incoming students will once again have the ability to be a part of a great academic activity.
When Campus News asked about the teams funding cuts in 2011 Professor Haddad stated, “If the budget cuts continue it will re-establish the norm of low expectations from certain populations.” Students at ELAC should take those words to heart and stand up for a team that brought together people from the community to successfully challenge an activity often dominated by privileged individuals.