Featuring: REMY RAVITZKA
Remy and I sat together eating lunch in the unusually warm November sunshine. She had just come from class, was mentally preparing for the Ethics Bowl meeting she had later that night, and answered my questions in a such laid-back and articulate manner, that I immediately realized that the debate team was nothing new to her.
Remy Ravitzka and I had engaged in a number of “debates” prior to our interview. When I first found out that she was on Ethics Bowl [Union College’s debate team] along with the Crew Team, and being Pre-Med, I couldn’t say I was surprised. Remy and I are constantly engaging in conversations ranging from our views on Mac computers to topics that are globally debated. Although Remy is only a freshman here at Union College, with the intended major of Philosophy, she has been debating for five years.
When I asked Remy what got her started in debate, she shrugged her shoulders modestly, and reclined back in her chair. “Well I joined the [Lincoln-Douglass] debate team my freshman year of high school and I loved it immediately. I guess it appealed to me because I like arguing.” Here she laughs before continuing. “I mean… I like to argue in a positive way. I also joined the team because I wanted to improve my speech ability, it’s very good for [improving] oratory skills, and I also loved the idea of being able to have civilized discussions with people. Just really being able to talk things out, you know?” Remy is the key example of someone who is great at articulating what she thinks. Not once during our interview did she stumble over what she wanted to say, or use “like” as a filler word, as so many college students tend to.
Of course, I, like many students who have never been involved in debate, was confused as to how a debate round worked. Remy explained to me that debate rounds greatly differ from high school to college. “In high school a debate round was approximately forty five minutes and it’s one on one. Basically, you have a resolution, and one person is affirmative and one person is the negative and the job of each person is to uphold his or her side in the round. There is a value or principal that each debater has to work toward above all, such as life, or liberty, etc. Whoever’s case is able to meet that value better wins the round.” When I questioned her about college, she grinned in excitement. “Well that’s very different because we have fifteen different topics and we need to know every single one of them. We’ll be debating in teams and they’ll bring up a random topic and we’ll need to know about it. I’m really excited because its different from high school in that it focuses a lot less on the nitty gritty, so it really gets down to the ethical principles and basics, which is really what I love, so it’s a lot more of your personal beliefs and philosophies. It’s fun in that way.”
Of course, I questioned how she managed to balance being on a Varsity sports team, pre-med, and Ethics Bowl. She smiled, and bowed her head before responding. “I mean, it’s a lot, but I also love it because I like having a busy schedule. I like being busy. Ethics Bowl is really laid back. Everyone on the team is so nice and it doesn’t even feel like a chore. It feels more like I’m going to a room where there’s food provided and I can just sit and talk about [the] things I like and the things that I’m passionate about.”
When asked about the most significant debate topic that she’s taken part in so far, she took her time in answering. “Oh man, there are so many to choose from. Okay, one of our resolutions [debate topics] was about compulsory vaccination. Essentially whether it is moral for the government to insist that you be vaccinated for a disease. It was actually that resolution that got me interested in the medical field, because I really like science and I was fascinated by the human body. The resolution was perfect for me because our cases were the conglomerate of ethics and biology.” Well said!
Lastly, I asked Remy whether there was anyone who really inspired her. (We both decided it was better not to ask questions about Politics. Remy claimed she wouldn’t “be able to control herself.” A true debater at heart.) Remy’s eyes lit up as she began to talk about the National rounds that she would watch in high school. “It is so inspiring. When you see these people debate, you’re amazed because they are so good, so brilliant, they speak quickly, say everything that they need to say, and articulate it so well…It just blows your mind. You want to be like them so badly.”
I’m positive that by Remy’s senior year, she’s going to be just as great as those debaters that she had once looked up to.
The Ethics Bowl will be hosting the Debate Tournament this Saturday, November 12th starting at 9 AM. Different debate topics will take place in different rooms around campus. You can find the schedule (which includes the times and areas) on the Union Website.
And now you know, thanks to Who Knew, Wednesdays!