The Belmont Abbey Debate Team competed at the North American Championship of the Lafayette Debates in Washington, D.C. this weekend.


The team competed in a field of 34 teams at the George Washington University; schools are generally permitted one team, and the field is capped to maximize the quality of debate. Mary Rose Stepnowski and Logan Torve went 2-2 in preliminary rounds, barely missing the threshold to advance to elimination rounds and the opportunity to win all-expenses paid study tours to France during the summer. Debating on the affirmative, Mary Rose and Logan won both rounds against California’s Claremont Colleges and Pennsylvania’s Duquesne University. On the negative, they lost two close rounds to Vanderbilt and George Washington. The top speaker from the George Washington round went on to win one of the study tours to France as a top overall speaker. Meanwhile, the Vanderbilt team advanced to finals, coming in second on a 2-3 decision, and also earning study tours.


Other universities competing included: Cornell University, Colorado College, Clemson University, Ecole de Guerre, James Madison University, Morehouse College, Patrick Henry College, Pepperdine University, St. John’s University, University of Kansas, University of Georgia, University of Mary Washington, University of Miami, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas, United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, University of Minnesota, and University of Pennsylvania. Yale University is also listed on the final registration, though they had to withdraw at the last moment.


Overall, our students performed very well. While there are, of course, improvements to be made, these types of public debates will provide wonderful opportunities for our students in the years to come. As the pictures depict, the students enjoyed opportunities to explore Washington, D.C. and to spend time at the French Embassy for the final round and banquet.

Mary Rose and Logan at the National Museum of American History Mary Rose with Donald Cardinal Wuerl at the Cathedral of St. Matthew Mary Rose and Logan in front of the travelling trophy, the “Carte Réduite Des Côtes Orientales De L’Amérique” (1778) Mary Rose and Logan at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.