SRU students compete in first virtual reality debate


Nov. 21, 2019

Slippery Rock University's Debate Society team competed in the first-ever virtual reality debate competition as part of the Fourth Battle of Winchester Debate Tournament, Nov. 15-16, at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia.

Lindsay Boettner, a freshman dual secondary education and social work major from Slippery Rock, represented SRU in the VR debate and placed second. From a virtual auditorium viewed by judges, competitors used VR headsets and debated, fittingly, if people should use VR technology. Organizers are hoping to expand the technology so competitions can occur remotely or by recreating historical environments or political venues like Independence Hall.

SRU placed second in the overall tournament, which was sanctioned by the National Educational Debate Association and included traditional debate forums.

Emily Hellwig, a junior dual political science and philosophy major from York, placed third overall in the Varsity Crossfire Division. She also placed second in that division's speaker category. Megan Thomas, a senior English writing major from Johnstown, and Evan Dils, a junior dual economics and finance major from Cranberry Township, took seventh in the team Varsity Crossfire Division, with Thomas placing sixth in the speaker category. Morgan Weeter, a sophomore political science major from Lower Burrell, and Bella Serapiglia, a junior marketing major from Clairton, placed seventh in the team Novice Crossfire Division.

The SRU Debate Society team is advised and coached by Tim Michaels, instructor of communication, and Heather Frederick, associate professor of political science.