For Chris Medina, the importance of debating is to exchange beliefs, not change them. This may come as a surprise to the average debate spectator—after all, debate teams win by convincing others of their argument. But for Medina, that’s the key distinction: Debate isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s about logic.
Before joining Prairie View A&M, Chris Medina was the director of forensics at Wiley College, a school known for its Great Debaters Program. Medina also created the first forensics league for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, with support from a Charles Koch Foundation grant.
For Medina, part of the benefit students gain by participating in a debate program or competing on a debate team is that they won’t always get to argue according to their beliefs. But, this pushes students out of their comfort zone and requires them to fully examine the arguments that run counter to their own views.
As Medina explains, “I think there are two important factors in trying to persuade somebody. I think the first is having respect for that individual—not pandering to them but having respect for their beliefs. And I think the second is empathy.”