Great Debate Participants Tackle Immigration Issues

Students take part in SPC's Fourth Annual Great Debate

St. Petersburg College student finalists from around the college debated immigration issues during the fourth annual Great Debate held at SPC’s Seminole Campus.

The winners were Tracy Pham from the Seminole Campus in first place, Destiny Rodriguez from Downtown/Midtown in second place, and Madison Reslink from Clearwater in third. This year’s grand prize was an Apple iPad Mini, second place received a $300 Barnes and Noble gift card, third place received a $150 B&N gift card. The remaining finalists, and the debate alternate all received a $50 B&N gift card.

The Great Debate
Fourth Annual Great Debate winners Destiny Rodriguez, Tracy Pham, and Madison Reslink.
Fourth Annual Great Debate winners Destiny Rodriguez, Tracy Pham, and Madison Reslink.

The Great Debate features issues ripped from today’s headlines. It provides participants with a chance to learn about the issue, to look at it from all sides, and argue a point that may not be their own opinion.

In the preliminary competition, students argued Confederate monuments and the Paris Climate Accord. Previous topics have included Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, concealed carry on campus, and medical marijuana. This year students argued for or against the position that “undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children should be allowed to stay without fear of being deported.”

Getting ready to win

Talking about her strategy for success, Pham said she spent a lot of time preparing for the debate, including reviewing how debaters carried themselves and presented their arguments. She also read everything she could find on the immigration policy Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

“I am really grateful to Kelly Rich, the early college instructor, my colleagues in student government who all came to the debate tonight, and my friends and family,” Pham said.

Fourth annual Great Debate finalists, judges, organizers

Eight finalists from four SPC campuses and centers competed for $750 in Barnes & Noble gift cards and an iPad Mini. This year’s finalists included:

Seminole Campus

  • Tracy Pham
  • Siera Kullman

Tarpon Springs Campus

  • Matthew Cecil
  • Ziara Quinteo

Downtown/Midtown Centers

  • Destiny Rodriguez
  • Hunter Kampowski

Clearwater Campus

  • Madison Reslink
  • Erin Smith

Judges were Dr. Joe Leopold, Dean of Communications, Dr. Susan Demers, Dean of the College of Policy, Ethics, and Legal Studies, and Dr. Catherine Kennedy, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Partnerships. The timekeeper was Wendy Mitchell. The scorekeepers were Dr. Bledar Prifti and Dr. Douglas Rivero, Social and Behavioral Sciences Chair. The moderator was Dr. Laurie King, Professor of Ethics Studies. The debate was sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions.

Learn more about Public Safety, Public Policy, and Legal Studies programs at SPC.

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