Glenville State University Hosts First Competitive Debate Tournament in School History
Wed Mar 27, 2024
Pioneer Debate team member, Beth Nichols.

Glenville State University hosted its first competitive debate tournament in school history Friday, March 15 through Saturday, March 16. The 1st annual “Pioneer Holler” Debate Tournament included teams from Wayne State, Dayton, Oberlin, Slippery Rock, and Capital. Over 50 members of GSU’s faculty and staff cohort, along with community members and GSU alumni helped deliver the event. Pioneer Debate celebrated team finishes of 1st, 3rd, and 4th place and swept their divisional entries for individual competitors 1st through 5th. GSU will host the National Educational Debate Association’s (NEDA) National Championship Tournament spring 2025.

Pioneer Debate Team Co-Captains Noah Miner (Sophomore Business Management and Land Surveying double-major) and Trey Cloutier (Senior Information Systems major) scored a 1st Place Team finish in division. “I would say my most valuable takeaway from the tournament would be how integral teamwork is,” explained Miner. “Trey and I placed 3rd and 2nd individually, but as a team we were able to come together and win the tournament! If we hadn't teamed up, I don't believe I would've made it so far.”

GSU Student Government President and Pioneer Football Offensive Lineman Jahzeiah Wade (Junior Athletic Coaching and Political Science double-major) teamed up once again with Beth Nichols (Freshman Education major) to secure a 3rd Place Team finish in division, and Wade’s performance earned him a 1st Place Speaker award. Team Co-Captain Rebekah Hypes (Sophomore Criminal Justice major) and Sandra Crites (Sophomore Education major) continued their team’s successful year to notch a 4th Place Team finish in division. “Debate gives us an opportunity to explore and understand real world issues,” said Hypes, adding “as we research each side of the debate, we allow ourselves to truly understand both perspectives more intimately than we did before. I believe that everyone should take the time to see the other side of issues that they care about.”

This was the first tournament for Alyssa Gibson (Junior Criminal Justice major) who has been helping the team from behind the scenes since Pioneer Debate first formed. She says that serving in a support role for a year prepared her for success: “It helped me to watch and learn how to word my arguments the right way and how to think of questions on the spot.” Gibson finished 4th overall in her novice division for individual debaters and placed 4th in competition. Pioneer Debate Coaches Dr. Brian Johnston and Dr. Josh Squires say Gibson’s experience represents the values Pioneer Debate strives to achieve. “I formed this team, not to win tournaments, but to help our already talented students find confidence in their voice while also contributing to our community’s public health. Our debaters, and other team members who come out to contribute to our meetings, are building something special here at GSU,” said Johnston.

Dr. Brian Johnston (Department of Language and Literature) directs and coaches Pioneer Debate along with Dr. Josh Squires (Political Science). Pioneer Debate seeks funding to support travel to competitive debate tournaments. Contact GSU VP of Advancement David Hutchinson by email ( or phone (304-462-6381) to support Pioneer Debate.

PIONEER DEBATE is a co-curricular competitive debate team in the Department of Language and Literature at Glenville State University. Students develop professional skills in critical thinking, civil listening, argumentation, research, and creative problem-solving through weekly meetings, competitive debates, and campus events. Participation in Pioneer Debate is open to all GSU students.

NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL DEBATE ASSOCIATION is an academic debate circuit serving the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.