Debaters make semifinals at California tournament

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Two male college students holding winning debate certificates
Mercer University debate team members Thomas Bartlett and Chirayu Salgarkar

MACON — Mercer University’s debate team made it to the semifinals at the Jannese Davidson Memorial Debate Tournament on Jan. 26-27 at Concordia University in Irvine, California. Thirty-one colleges and universities from eight states competed at the tournament.

Chirayu Salgarkar,  a senior biomedical engineering and mathematics double-major, and Thomas Bartlett, a sophomore double-majoring in global development studies and Spanish, made it to the semifinals. Dr. Vasile Stănescu, director of debate, said this is the best performance Mercer has ever had at this debate tournament.

“Mercer University flew to California to defeat our major rival, UC Berkeley — not once but twice — to make it to the semifinal round of this important debate tournament,” he said. “I am particularly proud of Chirayu and Tommie. I watched them work countless hours to prepare for this tournament with both sincere intellectual engagement and heartfelt advocacy, and they exemplified the very best of Mercer University.”

Dr. Stănescu co-coached the team with Fiker Tesfaye, a lecturer of communication studies, and Adeja Powell. Before coming to Mercer, Tesfaye won the James ‘Al’ Johnson Top Speaker Award, the highest individual honor presented at the NPDA championship. Powell is a former winner of the national NPDA championship.