UMW Debate Team to Face Off on Presidential War Powers

The University of Mary Washington Debate Team has been invited to join five other highly ranked universities in a public debate on the issue of presidential war powers on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at George Washington University. The UMW Debate Team ranks among the nation’s top public universities.

Mariah Young and Tom Pacheco will represent UMW at the prestigious debate, sponsored by the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and University of Virginia’s Miller Center. Young is a junior double major in political science and journalism. Pacheco is a senior double major in political science and philosophy.

Tom Pacheco and Mariah Young will represent UMW in a presidential war powers debate.

Tom Pacheco and Mariah Young will represent UMW in a presidential war powers debate.

The topic, Pacheco said, is “timely and interesting.”

Tuesday’s debate is the first in a series of debates, and also will welcome U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who will give opening remarks. Former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director and CEO of the Miller Center, will moderate the debate.

Pacheco and Young are debate veterans who are accustomed to facing off against credible competitors. The different format of this debate, however, poses a challenge for them.

The debate will consist of two teams, each made up of three universities. UMW, GWU and University of Pittsburgh will face the U.S. Naval Academy, James Madison University, and Georgetown University.

The focus of the debate is not to win, but to inform in an open format setting, according to Pacheco. He and Young will collaborate with the schools on their team while trying to enlighten the public.

“We have a lot of research already prepared; it’s just a matter of adapting,” Pacheco said.

“I think we’re prepared, but I think it’s natural to feel a little nervous speaking in front of a lot of politicians,” Young said.

The debaters will affirm the ideas in the War Powers Consultation Act, created by the Miller Center’s War Powers Commission, with a goal of creating a clear policy that mandates conversation between the President and Congress to talk about when the U.S. can go to war.

The debate is open to the public and should last about two hours. “It’s important that we have that much time to get our information across,” Young said.

While the duo has only been back to campus for two weeks, their research on the topic has been ongoing.

Tuesday’s debate topic connects to the overarching National Debate Tournament and CEDA 2013-2014 topic for UMW Debate Team and all U.S. debate teams. Each school has a vote in the selection process.

Debate Coach Adrienne Brovero said the UMW team is “very honored” to participate in the debate.

The UMW Debate Team has a history of debating major topics such as energy policy and U.S. policy following the Arab Spring, but this topic surpasses their past endeavors.

“The opportunity to contribute to the larger ongoing debate about the president’s authority is especially unique for our students,” Brovero said.

CEDA is an organization that helps govern the collegiate academic debate community. The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy and political history.