More than 100 students, faculty, staff and family members attended the 2015 Great Debate, sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions. Iliana Yanes from the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus was the winner and took home prizes worth $1,000.
Competitors in this final round of the competition were first- and second-place winners of preliminary rounds held at the five participating St. Petersburg College campuses during October. Nine students from those campuses competed in the debate at the Seminole Campus Digitorium on Nov. 18.
Yanes, who said public speaking has been a passion since middle school, plans to major in Environmental Science and Political Science after receiving her AA in May.
She debated on the topic “Should Marijuana Use Be Made Legal for Medical Purposes?” and was assigned the negative position in the debate by random drawing. She skillfully argued against legalization, marshalling scientific studies, crime statistics and data analysis to question the wisdom of decriminalizing marijuana. She based her argument on three points: questionable processes for the verification of a medical need in dispensing the product, unreliable levels of beneficial properties in its chemical make-up and negative societal consequences. Poised and confident, she only briefly referred to note cards.
SPC President Bill Law commended the students for their competitive spirit and noted that the enhanced critical thinking and research skills developed in the competition would prove invaluable to them in job interviews, seeking admission to other colleges or applying for scholarships.
For more information about debate, visit the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions.