Tiffany Chang ’19 Brings Lincoln Douglas Debate to Campus

A long-time Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debater at her middle school, Tiffany Chang ’19 was motivated to share her enthusiasm for LD debate with the Andover community upon her arrival at Andover this past fall. LD debate is structured on arguments supported by theories from well-known philosophers and requires debaters to prepare both affirmative and negative cases.

After talking with her complimentary house counselor Rachel Hyland, Instructor in Spanish, and Garrett Richie, Teaching Fellow in English, Chang was able to begin an LD Debate Club on campus by the end of her Junior fall term.

“I was in the dorm one night and had a great conversation with [Chang] about her passion for LD Debate. I was impressed with her knowledge, experience and willingness to take initiative. Although I am new to the debate world, I agreed to support her and help out wherever I could,” wrote Hyland in an email to The Phillipian.

Prior to the debate, the competitors of LD debate are given the resolution or the problem being addressed and are required to prepare evidence for their cases. While the debater is forced to argue both sides of the case, any competing theories can be reconciled before the competition.

“You can go for straight-up statistics and evidence, you can go for taking a more layered, philosophical approach, you can argue about the confines of the resolution itself… With [Philomathean Society], it’s usually more straightforward because it’s focused on rhetoric rather than intellectual arguments… LD has this tendency to lean more [toward] the use of strict logic to structure arguments and Philo tends to use more of common sense type arguments,” said Chang.

A typical club meeting usually starts with learning new terms and watching videos of past competitions since most members are relatively new to this style of debate. Though LD is mostly a one-on-one competition, members train as a team and help one another edit their resolution papers.

“[During one meeting,] we [looked] at how gun control affects other facets of society like racism… by taking guns [away], are we taking away a really integral part of the South? But at the same time, does the violence take away our basic right to live as human beings? I love it in that we can argue for any side, we can keep on going, really forever,” said Tanvi Kanchinadam ’19, a member of the club.
According to Chang, she did not encounter any obstacles while creating the club. After asking Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities, about the possibility of creating this club, Chang only needed to find a faculty advisor, a place to meet and members to take part in her club.

Chang found recruiting new students to be her largest obstacle.

“The real issue with creating the club as a [Junior] is not knowing enough people to maintain the numbers in the club… The amount of people attending has gone down greatly since it first began. [I hope to] get more people interested in this really amazing activity,” said Chang.

The club will be attending an upcoming LD Debate tournament at Harvard, one of the largest of such tournaments in the country. Chang hopes to apply for a grant in the spring through the Abbot Academy Association to hire an additional coach who is familiar with LD debate.
“[LD debate] has changed the way that I read arguments. It’s changed the way that I analyze any piece of literature that I read and it really opened my eyes especially to the fact that there isn’t really one set way of judging what is right and what is wrong… and I want more people to be able [to experience] that,” said Chang.