THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2012

Kevin Hope--Physics
Andrew Battista--Alt-Ac
Claire Edwards--Communication Science & Disorders
Anthony Kelley--Philosophy
Bryn Chancellor--English/Creative Writing
Brett Noerager--Biology
Stephen Parker--Devil's Advocate

MC: Michael Patton

It was a full house at Palmer Auditorium for the 15th Annual Life Raft Debate. In fact, so many people tried to tweet their questions and comments the local Internet crashed. My apologies to everyone who tried to watch at home—I understand many people could not access the streaming video. If you want to watch the show, it can be found here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/26079668/highlight/297677. I hope you give it a look; it was a really good debate.

Kevin Hope (Physics, Defending Champion) Without ever mentioning physics, Kevin literally begged for a “permanent” spot on the life raft and then proceeded to attack all the other participants, often with hilarious results. He added that, as defending champion, it was his duty to lose the debate. He didn’t win, but for someone who never said anything positive about his discipline, he did quite well.

Andrew Battista (Alt-Ac) Andrew claimed that the old disciplines in the colleges and universities were obsolete and counterproductive. He cited his own path from a PhD in English to working in Information Science to illustrate that unfettered inquiry, across and outside of typical disciplinary boundaries, was the key to employment in the contemporary world.

Claire M. Edwards (Communication Science & Disorders) Claire claimed that since she could help with speech and language, which is essential for meaningful thought, from the cradle to the grave, her presence on the raft was required to halt a descent into a tower-of-Babel situation in the new world.

Anthony Kelley (Philosophy) Anthony claimed that political philosophy held the key to forming a rational, effective government that would avoid a future repeat of the apocalypse that we are now living through. Only through the reasoning and logic employed by philosophers will we be able to make a go of it wherever we end up.

Bryn Chancellor (English/Creative Writing) Bryn read a story she’d written about the life raft debate scenario that left many in the audience ready to jump overboard in the wake of its poignancy. She ended by saying we should write our stories and save ourselves.

Brett Noerager (Biology) Brett claimed that besides clean water and steaks, biology could give us everything from sex to drugs (beer) to rock and roll (well, at least Marvin Gaye). He also rocked some shorts and a floatie, and pointed out that we needed a bigger boat… |

Stephen Parker (Devil’s Advocate) In encouraging the audience to leave all the panelists behind, Steve said that all the participants had an understandable but vested interest in promoting their own narrow fields. As such, he said they merely offer answers from their own perspective, while what the audience would find in the new world was more and more questions. Echoing Tom Joad, Steve said that the audience should leave the seat on the raft open and that whenever there was a question without a clear answer or a pat answer that seemed just too easy, the Devil’s Advocate would be there.

In the rebuttal session, the quips flew fast and furious and, quite frankly, you need to watch it to see what happened.

The moderator, Michael Patton, returned after a one- year hiatus and began talking to empty chairs and then forgot the rebuttal period entirely. It is hoped that he will soon make a full recovery.

600 votes were cast by an audience that exceeded 800 people, and in the end, after a marathon scantron session thanks to Dr. Kristen Gilbert, Brett Noerager took the oar home for Biology. This marks the 5th time the oar has gone to Harman Hall in what looks to be like an insurmountable lead for the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics.

C’mon, other departments and colleges! Let’s stop the tyranny of the scientists and mathematicians! Be sure to sign up for next year’s debate—you only have 360 days…