Pens rushed and keyboards clacked as debaters prepared their questions and remarks for the pro and con speakers of each debate. Attendees of the Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) Fall Conference put wits and beliefs to the test, Nov. 23.
“I really enjoyed fall state because I got to hear a bunch of different opinions and viewpoints, which helped me craft my own views on issues,” senior Andrew Chung, chapter president for SJS, said. “Also, I loved being in the actual Capitol building and hearing the political talk inside and outside of debates.”
The opening session began after registration, with Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson giving a brief speech about the various roads to entering a career in politics. After a series of debates, attendees were given the opportunity to attend a country-themed dance.
“JSA Fall State was remarkably informative. The resolutions were not only controversial but also applicable to the current day,” junior Andrew Jing said.
Debates encompassed a variety of topics, from drone strikes to gun control. Each debate consisted of two six minute speeches from the pro and the con sides, followed by three minute speeches for either side by audience members who volunteered. Each debate ended with closing speeches from the first speakers.
“Although I didn’t prepare nearly as well as I would have liked, the debates challenged me to consider multiple viewpoints, think on my feet and extemporize in front of roomfuls of well-informed, skillful speakers,” Jing said.
In the morning, University of Texas Professor of Government Dr. James Henson and House Representative Naomi Gonzalez delivered keynote speeches about immigration reform.
“Aside from having some of the greatest debates I’ve participated in, the JSA conference allowed me to get to know really nice and intelligent students from all across the state,” sophomore Madison Trice said.
In addition to giving students the opportunity to share ideas with debaters throughout Texas, JSA Fall State left members with new ideas and goals for the future.
“It was amazing to be able to express my own opinions while getting to see what other people believed and debate on them,” sophomore Madison Trice said.