Rollins Debate Team Defeats University of Miami

The Rollins debate team defended the Rollins Cup trophy for the third consecutive year.

On Wednesday, February 18, the Rollins Debate Team competed against and defeated the University of Miami at the Annual Rollins Cup Debate held on the campus of Rollins College in Tiedtke Concert Hall. For three years in a row, the Rollins team has bested their rivals to secure the trophy for another year.

This year’s debate took on the issue of whether or not police officers should be required to wear body cameras—a topic that has grown in popularity in the wake of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. The Rollins team selected two students who are strong in the areas of domestic and political issues to represent them—Brandon Abrams ’17, a double-major in international relations and philosophy, and Alexander Peterson ’17, a double-major in environmental studies and philosophy.

Abrams and Peterson argued for the position that police officers should not be required to wear camera equipment while on duty. They asserted that body cameras can only provide information when information is already collected effectively in a variety of other ways. The team further argued that public trust can be improved by shifting the focus from information gathering to the proper adjudication of law. They cited that grand juries move to bring matters of police and civilian conflict to trial 90 percent of the time, however, when the defendant is an officer, grand juries move to bring them to trial only 20 percent of the time.

Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Smaw, who leads the Rollins Debate Team, is proud of the team’s achievements. “Brandon and Alex are sophomores who went up against seniors,” he says. “They gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in a debate at Rollins.”

Last year’s Rollins Cup debate brought England’s Cambridge Union Debate Society to campus where they were defeated by Rollins team members Raumon Verbonceur ’14 and David Geovorgyan ’14. Verbonceur has gone on to study law at Yale Law School and Geovorgyan is studying business at Rollins College’s Crummer Graudate School of Business.

Since the revival of the Rollins debate team in 2007, they have placed as high as No. 1 in Florida, No. 3 in the nation, and No. 5 in the Americas.