UNT student Kuntal Cholera placed 12th in the top 20 speakers, who were chosen from 148 students, at this year's National Debate Tournament. Cholera, a senior economics major, was the highest ranked student from a Texas college or university.
Founded in 1947 as a national championship tournament for college debate, the National Debate Tournament is open to 74 two-student teams. Fifty-eight of the teams qualify for the tournament by winning or placing in their district tournaments, while 16 teams receive at-large bids based on their performances at tournaments held throughout the academic year. This year's National Debate Tournament was held at California State University in Fullerton.
The tournament was sponsored by the American Forensic Association until 1966, when the association founded an organization, also called the National Debate Tournament, to manage a college championship tournament and qualifying district tournaments.
Cholera and his debate partner John Elson, a sophomore political science major, qualified for the National Debate Tournament last month after they finished third at the District III Qualifying Tournament. District III includes debate programs at colleges and universities in Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
Cholera and Elson achieved four wins at the National Debate Tournament, which was won by a team from Wake Forest University. It was their second year in a row competing at the tournament as partners. Cholera also qualified for 2006 National Debate Tournament with another partner.
Brian Lain, UNT assistant professor of communication studies and coach of UNT's Debate Squad, says Cholera's being named the 12th best speaker at this year's National Debate Tournament is "an outstanding recognition of his achievements during his debate career."
"His speaker award means that he will always be remembered as we have known him at UNT — among the best debaters in the nation," he says.
Cholera and Elson also recently finished among the top nine teams at the Cross Examination Debate Association's National Tournament, which was held at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan. Founded in 1971 as the Southwest Cross Examination Debate Association, CEDA is a primary national association promoting policy topic debate by college and university students.
Cholera and Elson posted wins over teams from:
- University of Texas at Dallas
- Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y.
- San Francisco State University
- University of Kansas
- University of Nevada at Las Vegas
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y.
- University of Wyoming.
They lost to Missouri State University in the quarterfinals. Cholera was named the tournament's seventh best speaker.
All of the National Debate Tournament and CEDA-sanctioned tournaments focus on policy debate. The topic for all of this year's debates is whether or not the U.S. federal government should increase its constructive engagement with the governments of Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Syria, and whether or not it should offer these governments security guarantees and/or substantial increases in foreign assistance.
UNT News Service Press Release
Nancy Kolsti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.