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SMC Debate Team Wins National Championship

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

April 17, 2019 -- There's no debating it, the Santa Monica College (SMC) Speech and Debate Team is the best in the nation.

Team captain Shaindi Schwebel took first place in International Public Debate at the Phi Rho Pi national speech and debate tournament held April 7 to 13 in Reno, Nevada.

Schwebel, who is in her second year on the team, competed in six preliminary rounds, advanced to the semi-finals and won in the finals.

SMC Debate Team
SMC Debate Team (From left) Dominic Smith, Genevieve Faherty, Coach Nate Brown, Team Captain and National Debate Champion Shaindi Schwebel, Alexys Davis, Brandon Chase and Chern Xun Gan

In the semi-final round, Shaindi argued that zoological parks are unethical, college officials said. In the final round, she argued that the U.S. Federal Government should not call a Constitutional convention.

“Debate has enabled me to find my voice in a way I never could have imagined, and given me the chance to lead a team of brave, passionate, and intelligent people,” Schwebel said after the victory.

“Going to Phi Rho Pi is a once—or twice!—in a lifetime experience that can’t be replicated," she said. "Taking home the gold in IPDA is the culmination not only of my hard work, but of my coach’s and teammates’ as well.”

Also competing in the Phi Rho Pi tournament were SMC students Dominic Smith, the assistant team captain, Brandon Chase, Alexys Davis, Genevieve Faherty and Chern Xun Gan.

Most of the SMC squad competed in NPDA debate (National Parliamentary Debate Association), IPDA debate (International Public Debate Association) and Impromptu Speaking.

SMC was among the 56 community colleges nationwide that competed in the tournament.

The events included debate, oral interpretation, interpreter’s theatre, platform speaking and limited preparation speaking, college officials said.

The SMC Debate Team’s presence at this tournament was sponsored by an SMC Foundation Chair of Excellence grant, the Associated Students of Santa Monica College and Santa Monica College.

For more information on the SMC Debate Team, contact Nate Brown at or 310.434.8781.

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