The first-ever Regents’ Cup, a new debate competition created by the Arizona Board of Regents in partnership with Arizona’s public universities, took place Saturday at the University of Arizona.
The unique competition celebrates free speech, civil discourse and democratic engagement among university students, according to ABOR. It features various rounds of discussion, solutions, persuasive storytelling and Oxford-style debate.
“The Regents’ Cup was an inspiring event with student teams exhibiting exceptional debate skills during the competition, a series of debates characterized by respect for one another and civil discourse,” said Regent Karrin Taylor Robson.
Robson was instrumental in envisioning and supporting the event, according to ABOR.
“Our universities are exemplars of free speech,” said ABOR Chair Larry E. Penley. “The Regents’ Cup competition provides students with an opportunity to hone debate skills that are characterized by civil discourse and reasoned argument, attributes that will serve them well throughout life.”
Arizona State University, UArizona and Northern Arizona University have all earned the highest rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, called the “green light.”
NAU earned the designation from FIRE earlier this year after revising its computer use policy, becoming just the 48th institution in the United States to do so.
“This first-of-its-kind competition will feature reasoned debate during an era when free-speech issues on college campuses are at the forefront of the national conversation,” ABOR said in a statement.
“This inaugural event was a testament to our commitment to free speech on our college campuses, and I am proud of all of our students, judges, coaches, fellow regents, university presidents and staff members who made the Regents’ Cup a success,” Robson said.
The 2019 Regents’ Cup focused on civil discourse and freedom of speech; specific issues included libel, slander, defamation laws and social media. Participating students earned course credit while competing for scholarships at the event.
“The Regents’ Cup competition will demonstrate students’ debate skills while exposing the teams to diverse thoughts and beliefs,” said ABOR Executive Director John Arnold before the event. “We hope they take away from this experience an expanded worldview as well as empathy and respect for competitors.”
Winning teams receive scholarship money to apply toward their university education, and all participating students can receive either an internship or course credit for their work, according to ABOR. Judges for the event included legislators, sitting judges, faculty, regents, student leaders, community leaders and administrators.
ASU undergraduates Valielza O’Keefe, a physics major, and Joshua Pardhe, a computer systems engineering major, took home the inaugural Regents’ Cup, according to ASU Now.
— Arizona Board of Regents (@AZRegents) November 17, 2019
“The Regents’ Cup is really a way to celebrate free speech and civil dialogue,” Bonnie Wentzel, director of ASU’s Communication Lab, told ASU Now before the event. “People give that lip service all the time, but it’s something we practice every day as part of being inclusive. You have to be willing to listen to another perspective or opinion besides your own.”
The 2019 Regents’ Cup took place Saturday at McClelland Hall on UArizona’s Tucson campus. Click here to learn more.
Header photo of student participants at the 2019 Regents’ Cup courtesy of the Arizona Board of Regents.