Laurel Eddins (WDI, 2015) Named South Oregon’s NSDA/NFL Student of the Year

Image 2016-03-13

Laurel Eddins, a WDI alumna from the Summer 2015 session, was selected as the South Oregon NSDA/NFL district’s ‘Student of the Year’.  Her nomination included the following paragraph:  “Laurel has attended workshops at Kansas and Whitman, and was selected for the 2015 Women’s Debate Institute, which cultivates in young women “the skills to be successful debaters, effective advocates, exceptional public speakers, and educated professionals with the ability to transform our world.”  She called her week there “the best experience of my life” and has applied to return as a counselor.  And she has aggressively recruited other Oregon debaters to apply, as she has become committed to addressing gender-based inequities in speech and debate.” Congratulations Laurel!

Corinne Sugino Leads Prison Workshop About Debate

Corrine Sugino


While the WDI has a lot to be proud of with the competitive successes of our past campers and collegiate scholars, it is important to recognize the real-world application of the skills learned at the WDI. Corinne Sugino, former WDI Collegiate Scholar and college policy debater for Wake Forest University, is demonstrating the connection between debate and activism. As a leader and participant of the Alexander Literary Organization at Wake Forest, Corinne has been volunteering at Alexander Correctional Institute for the past few months.

Once a month, the Alexander Literary Organization introduces a new workshop topic to the group of inmates. Initially started by Wake Forest senior Alex Gibson, the organization is led and run by the students at Wake Forest who believe that everyone should have the opportunity to engage in discussions on liberation.

The leadership and topics of each workshop is rotational, so each student gets the opportunity to present and discuss their own subjects. Sugino chose to present about debate. Sending the inmates the information in advance, Sugino was met with attentive inmates who had compiled pages of notes in preparation for her workshop. The goal of Sugino’s workshop was to teach advocacy skills to the inmates so they could empower themselves and work toward rehabilitation back into mainstream society.

Sugino believes that she’s gaining as much as the inmates: “it definitely gave me some perspective,” she explains, “it’s easy at Wake to just exist in this bubble where you don’t interact with the larger community. Going to Alexander allowed me to meet people with completely different experiences and perspectives.”

It is often the case that debaters and scholars discuss and debate liberation from systems of oppression in their ivy towers without ever interacting with the people that they are theorizing about. “It’s unhealthy to just theorize in academic spaces. It’s easy to let that be all that you do. Talking with the inmates helped to discuss the theories in more concrete terms that you can apply in your own life.” Connecting theory to practice is where Sugino sees the most positive influence of the program for both the inmates and the instructors.

Corinne Sugino initially heard about the program through her former debate partner, Joe Leduc, who had been heavily involved with the Alexander Literary Organization. “I got involved because I feel like a lot of people don’t deserve to be in prison, and they especially don’t deserve in injustices and lack of resources in the prisons.” Sugino believes that her work at the prison has more of an impact than organizing a rally on campus because it meets the inmates where they are. “The inmates genuinely want us to be there and I have learned a great deal from the other members.”

This month, the group is discussing the book Between the World and Me, by Ta Nehisi Coates with a guest professor from Wake Forest University.

Rhian Williams is a WDI 2015 Alumn and a Member of the WDI Board of Directors.  If you have alumni news, please let us know.  We’d love to hear from you!

WDI Alumni Lock Out Texas Finals



The WDI locked out the finals at the Texas Open tournament hosted by the University of Texas at Austin in February. Board member Nicole Nave and 2015 Collegiate Scholar, Corinne Sugino, faced each other in the finals of the Texas Open. In a 2-1 for the negative, Sugino’s Wake Forest team took home the championship.

Charles-Anthony Athanasopoulos and Corinne Sugino
Charles-Anthony Athanasopoulos and Corinne Sugino

Both Sugino and Nave’s teams went 6-2 in prelims. Sugino’s team was the 19th seed overall at the tournament; Nave’s team was eighth seed.

In her sixth round, Nicole Nave received thirty speaker points- a perfect score. Overall, Nave earned 12th place speaker.

In the finals round, Rutgers NM (Nave’s team) read their Beloved aff, which “involves a performance of hauntology based on Beloved by Toni Morrison that focuses on black women in history, and in the US military, that are erased in the status quo,” according to Nave’s affirmative cites.

As the negative, Wake Forest AS (Sugino’s team) went for criticisms of their call for subjectivity and indicts on the discussion of gender within the 1AC.

Sugino believes that the reason for the split decision was clear: “Rutgers debated really well. Especially Nicole, her 2AR was bomb and had us super nervous for the decision.”

Both Nave and Sugino fully embody their arguments. “What I say in debate is important to me,” Sugino explains. “I don’t see it as a game the way many people do. Something that forever influenced the way I think about choosing which arguments to make was when Joe Leduc (my partner last year) used to say, ‘there’s only so many speeches you are going to give before you graduate. So what are you going to say in them?’”Nicole Nave

While there may be nuances in a critical argument that never get addressed, Sugino believes that “there’s value in debate that I don’t think you get in a classroom discussion; for example, you have to be ready to defend what you say in front of people who, by the nature of competition, have to disagree with you.” The platform of debate provides a uniquely beneficial point of contestation and deliberation for critical debaters, one that is essential to exploring all the angles of the theory.”

For both Nicole Nave and Corinne Sugino, success in a debate isn’t simply a win, it’s the education of their judges, their competitors and themselves.

Rhian Williams is a WDI 2015 Alumn and a Member of the WDI Board of Directors.  If you have alumni news, please let us know.  We’d love to hear from you!