Accolades pile up for debate society

St. John’s finishes the debate season with a third place ranking in the Northeast. In addition, St. John’s professor Stephen Llano was named Debate Director of the Year by the Society Advocating More and Better Argumentation (SAMBA), who annually recognize a high achieving administrator or coach of an East Coast collegiate debate program.

The accomplishments were revealed after the East Coast Championship Tournament held in Binghamton, NY on the weekend of Feb. 23-24, where the debate society competed against 26 other schools including West Virginia, Binghamton and Cornell. St. John’s, however, did not make it to the later rounds.

“(SAMBA) is an organization that consists of really top quality debate and argumentation people, Llano said. “And to be named their choice for director of the year was really a nice honor.”

Debate team member Don Bracciodieto, a sophomore noted, “He’s an overall great guy that has taught me many lessons.”

Sophomore team member Shreshth Jain added, “He was the only person that got a standing ovation.”

Despite their finish in the East Coast Championship Tournament, St. John’s third-place ranking will remain intact placing them only behind Hobart & William Smith College and Vermont University in the Northeast rankings.

“Since we got third now I believe we can do much better,” Jain said.

Llano credited his associates from the communication sciences, speech and theater department as great contributors in positioning the program for success.

The University team uses the British Parliamentary debate style in its competitions. Some debate topics posed at the event included Western nations’ favoritism toward Israel, and whether the military should replace all human soldiers with robots.

Debate society members who participated in the event were Tom Morgan, Korey Pace, Jordan March, Shreshth Jain, Stan Aminov, Angela Vidalis, and Jamar Daniels.

“It’s not about winning, but about achieving victory, which includes losing,” Llano said when asked about his thoughts on the team’s finish. “For a loss can be winning if you learn something you didn’t know about yourself.”