Eight hundred gallons of water, 102 pizzas, 200 pounds of tofu and 50 pounds of chicken are only part of the necessary ingredients required to host a debate tournament of over 400 people.
Binghamton University was chosen by the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) to host the first tournament of the year on the East Coast, known as the East Coast Regional Debate Tournament opener.
It was not only the first of the year, but it was also the first debate tournament to attempt to go waste-free, according to Joe Leeson-Schatz, director of Speech and Debate at BU and a professor in the English department.
‘As of yesterday, we composted 580 gallons of compostable waste,’ Leeson-Schatz said on Sunday. ‘We bought everything that was biodegradable and hope to get up to 900 to 1000 gallons.’
Leeson-Schatz and his team of coordinators collaborated with the environmental science department and arranged for them to pick up the compost and deposit it to a heap in Binghamton.
‘After the event we divided everything into compost, recyclables and other trash,’ said Diane Wong, a junior double majoring in Asian American studies and political science and a member of the junior varsity debate team. ‘Joe also calculated very well how much food he needed to order so there wasn’t much wasted afterwards.’
The food offered at the event also included fruits that were provided by local farms.
In addition to composting, all participants received mugs instead of disposable cups. This way they could refill their drinks and leave the debate with a souvenir.
‘This was a major change,’ Leeson-Schatz said. ‘It was more expensive, but also more environmentally-sound.’
The style of debate is also shifting to become paperless. According to Leeson-Schatz, teams usually travel with thousands of pages of debate evidence marked with notes and highlights, but that is now becoming a part of history.
‘I’ve been noticing a lot of the debaters have been going paperless,’ Wong said. ‘Instead of printing so much, they operate using their laptops. Debate is definitely going to be a more green community.’
The event hosted 154 teams of over 300 debaters, totaling 400 people including coaches.
According to Leeson-Schatz, every classroom in the Fine Arts Building, Library North of the Library Tower, Science I and II, Science Library, Student Wing and the Lecture Hall building was used.
About 30 different universities participated in the tournament including Cornell, James Madison, Rutgers and Liberty University, BU’s main competitor.
Because BU played host to the tournament, its team wasn’t allowed to compete, although some members were at another tournament at Georgia State.
Leeson-Schatz leads the team along with head coach Guy Risko and assistant coach Lauren Cameron. Both are graduate students in the English department.
This tournament served as a warm-up for the national competition in March, which BU will also host. BU will be allowed to participate in that competition, because the scores are entered into the computer system and calculated by the executive committee of CEDA, instead of the host school.
Mike Davis, president of CEDA and director of debate at James Madison University, said BU was chosen from bid applications about a year and a half ago.
‘Binghamton was very generous in terms of providing food and other amenities. We want to go places where people are good hosts,’ Davis said. ‘We also keep an eye toward diversity. We haven’t had a regional tournament in the northeast since 1998.’
‘Ten years ago, we weren’t even in the top 100 and now we’re ranked one or two,’ Leeson-Schatz said. ‘Each year we generally get a little more funding and continue to expand.’