McMINNVILLE — George Fox University seniors Luke Petarch and Patrick Campbell took their debate careers to the next level recently, winning the open division British Parliamentary competition at the 83rd annual Mahaffey Memorial Collegiate Forensics Tournament Nov. 15-17 at Linfield College.

It was good timing, as the duo registered in May and is preparing to compete at the 2014 World Universities debating championships Dec. 27 to Jan. 4 in Chennai, India.

Petach and Campbell are both double philosophy and economics majors, which has prepared them with both structural and pragmatic approaches to their arguments. Their economic background was especially helpful for the final topic at Linfield: the 2013 PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE FOX UNIVERSITY - Speakers - Just in time for their trip to the 2014 World Universities Debating Championships at the end of December, George Fox seniors Patrick Campbell and Luke Petarch gained confidence from their recent victory at the 83rd annual Mahaffey Memorial Collegiate Forensics Tournament Linfield College.

Not only was it an economic topic, but both felt comfortable arguing against it because that is also their personal stance on the subject.

In British Parliamentary debate, four teams present arguments, two in favor of a proposition (government) and two against (opposition). Campbell said he felt what put them above their opposition counterpart was the incorporation of some philosophically-based arguments, not just the dollars and cents figures.

“You don’t know the topics beforehand, so we developed a system to prep a little better in terms of having broader arguments, more philosophical arguments that we can apply to a broad range of topics,” Petach said. “Then also we prep for more specific contemporary topics.”

Petach and Campbell are also friends and have styles that work well together, matching their personalities in general.

“Patrick is more intense, he’s sort of a bulldog,” GFU assistant professor of English and director of debate Abigail Rine said. “Both of them have a good sense of humor, where Luke has more of a professorial, academic presence. Patrick’s more aggressive, so they do complement each other well.

Their win was a major victory for the GFU debate team, which has fared quite well being a young program — Rine founded the debate component in 2009 — with a relatively miniscule budget compared to other teams. Last year, the Bruins shared first place in Division 2 (based on the number of tournaments entered per year) of the Northwest Forensics Conference with Whitworth.

Despite the budget constraints, debating has been one of Petach and Campbell’s favorite things about GFU, both improving their academic skills and broadening their college experience with travel and the opportunity to meet, socialize and network with fellow students across the country and, soon, the world.

“The skills in debate you’ll use the rest of your life, especially if you’re a teacher or working as an analyst,” Campbell said. “I’ve always said if I somehow get a job that makes a ton of money, I’ll donate all my money to the debate team here because I think debate has definitely been one of the best things for my education.”

Petach and Campbell will travel to India with debate teammates Bryce Ezell, who competed at worlds last year, and Jenny Newman, who will serve as judges.

The entry fee for the tournament is low, but the foursome has had to raise money to pay for airfare, which pushed the total cost to more than $2,000. The group did receive some financial assistance from the George Fox Associated Student Community, but also turned to online crowd sourcing campaign.

“Bryce, especially, has a lot of debate experience — we went to the same high school — and he provides us with a lot of articles and arguments that we can use in rounds,” Campbell said. “We’re all sort of crowd sourcing our debate experience together.”

After “breaking,” or advancing past the preliminary stages to the knockout rounds at Linfield, Petach and Campbell believe it’s a reasonable goal to do so again at worlds even against teams from the best-funded programs and prestigious universities in the world, like Harvard and the London School of Economics.

“I think our goal initially going to worlds was to just get the experience, do it while you can,” Campbell said. “But now that we broke at Linfield, we feel like we have more credibility going into the world tournament. I really want to break at least.”

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