Two Cornell students will face off against top Harvard debaters at the State Theatre on April 26, examining the theme of technology.

Adrian Boteanu / Sun File Photo

Two Cornell students will face off against top Harvard debaters at the State Theatre on April 26, examining the theme of technology.

April 18, 2018

State Theatre to Host Cornell-Harvard ‘Intellectual Superbowl’ Debate

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Students from the the Cornell Speech and Debate Society are gearing up to take on current world champions Harvard at the first “Debate at The State” event on April 26.

“I want this to become a tradition that everyone in Ithaca looks forward to every year,”said Prof. Sam Nelson, labor relations law and history, the director of the debate team. “I want it to have the feeling of an intellectual Superbowl!”

Adnan Muttalib ’16 grad and Brittany Garcia ’19 will represent Cornell, while Danny DeBois and Archie Hall will debate for Harvard. The event will be moderated by S.E Cupp ’01, a former arts & enterntainment editor for The Sun and host of CNN’s S.E. Cupp: Unfiltered.

Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 and Nelson will provide opening remarks, according to a University press release.

Nelson is confident that Muttalib and Garcia are more than prepared for the debate, as they are seasoned members of the team. According to him, their backgrounds in argumentation and debate will prove useful as they face the current world champions.

“They’ve been preparing their whole lives,” he joked.

The debate’s theme will be “Is Technology Driving Us in the Wrong Direction?” and Muttalib and Garcia will arguing for the proposition. Both debaters from the Cornell team have been grappling with and analyzing the topic in preparation for the debate.

“This debate topic has intrigued us, as it is quite broad and encompasses material that is currently still in its infancy,” Muttalib told The Sun. “For example, the effects of social media on our daily interactions are quite heavily contested, which allows both sides to have quite a bit of ground to demonstrate how the platform is benefiting or harming us.”

Muttalib is a teaching assistant for Nelson’s ILRLR 3300: Argumentation and Debate course and debated for Cornell through his four years as an undergraduate.

Garcia said that she and Muttalib plan to argue that technology is “promoting value systems that we ought not condone.”

“One of the interesting things about this type of debate is how you frame your arguments and the burden of proof that your side has,” Garcia told The Sun. “I don’t think we have to defend that technology is on-net bad, but rather that the current trends that it has encouraged are leading us away from past value systems that would have been more beneficial than what has manifested and is manifesting.”

Garcia recently won the Spanish Language Pan-American Championships representing Cornell and is currently one of the best collegi­ate debaters in English and Spanish, according to Nelson.

The debate will take place from 7 – 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, at the State Theatre of Ithaca.