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Baylor Sweeps 2021 Youth in Government Conference
Patrick Russell

As the school year draws to a close, so has the Baylor Debate Club, which recently wrapped up the Youth in Government conference, hosted by the YMCA from April 15 -18.

Participants were required to write a bill on a topic of their choice and act as statespeople in order to get the bill passed. Most participants were in groups of two per bill, tag-teaming the presentation of said bill. Baylor swept the competition this year with 16 Baylor students receiving awards–and some winning multiple. In the category of Outstanding Statesperson, Baylor had nine students win the award: Sophia Baleeiro ’23, Ally Creswell ’23, Ibilola Esho ’22, Olivia Hankins ’22, Maddie Kim ’22, Owen McDaniel ’23, Mary Evelyn Pearce ’24, Patrick Russell ’22, and Tina Zheng ’22. In addition, Baylor also had several students win in the awards category of Outstanding Bill. Maddie Kim ’22 and Fatima Sohani ’22, Sophie Peirano ’21 and Paige Ryan ’21, Timothy George ’23 and Owen McDaniel ’23, and Amelia Langston ’23 and Katelyn Evans ’23 all won awards in this category. Most notably, Fatima Sohani and Mary Evelyn Pearce were both voted into officer positions for next year’s Youth in Government conference. Sohani was voted into the position of Blue Speaker Pro-Temp and Pearce was voted in as the Blue Floor Leader. These exciting wins ended Baylor Debate Club’s year on a high note, and all who won the Outstanding Statesperson award will be invited to attend a special showcase conference on May 2. 

To anyone considering joining debate next year, Kim and Sohani, the current Youth in Government Co-Presidents for Baylor Debate, have some helpful advice. Sohani offers this statement: “Just go for it! Our meetings are always open to all, and in the beginning weeks we focus more on explaining the key components of the conference so that students can decide whether or not they want to participate. There’s never any pressure to debate in a conference if you don’t want to, but if you do, we have an incredibly dedicated group of officers ready to assist newcomers with whatever they need! At both the Model UN and Youth in Government conferences this year, we had several first-time delegates win awards, which is not easy even for many experienced debaters. Our success at these conferences goes to show that you don’t need to have attended debate conferences since middle school or even throughout all of high school in order to join the club! And ultimately, debate is a place to gain confidence, better your public speaking skills, and learn more about the world around you. We welcome all new debaters with open arms!” 

Kim offers her thoughts as well: “If someone were considering joining the Baylor Debate Club next year, my number one piece of advice would be to come with an eagerness to learn. Debate can take some time to get used to, especially when more experienced debaters through around debate parlance or follow specific parliamentary procedure that you may not know. However, the most important part of debate is being open to learn, even if what you’re learning is unfamiliar territory. Wanting to make a positive difference through debate–whether it be by writing super-resolutions in Model United Nations or drafting up state-specific legislation in the Youth in Government conference–is something all debaters have in common. We all want to have a positive impact on our communities, and we all want to grow our understandings of others’ perspectives and stories. If you come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn, you are sure to succeed in Baylor Debate.”

Both Kim and Sohani’s advice should surely speak to anyone considering doing debate next year. Though it requires work and tenacity, debate teaches participants how laws are made and gives them a better, fuller understanding of the world we live in.

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