Debating a right to our campus

High schoolers create discomfort and inconvenience on campus.

Hordes of teenagers invaded campus on Thursday and Friday, particularly plaguing the Allen Chapman Student Union. Dressed in tight pantsuits and pubescent arrogance, they ran around like ants, infesting spaces that were meant to be filled with sweatpants and young-adult anxiety. I felt underdressed waiting in line to get a bagel, which is not something I want to feel after sleeping in until 1 p.m. and spending an hour scrolling around on my phone.

Though it is amazing that our university is able to give back to our community through hosting Speech and Debate Tournaments, did it have to come at the expense of the comfort and usability of our campus? I do not have anything against high schoolers, mostly. But when they are sleeping on the couches that students like to sit and have lunch at, I am slightly infuriated. These competitors claimed most of the tables at one of the two places to eat on campus, filling the space with blankets, storage bins and other random things.

This is to say nothing about the vocal warm-ups. I have done my fair share of vocal warm-ups as a theater kid for many years. They are not known for being normal or pleasant to listen to. Vocal warm-ups are a private affair and do not need to bleed into public spaces, which is exactly what these high schoolers did. Too many over-enunciated consonants can break the best of people, let alone a college student who is running on Red Bull and spite.

All of this is not to say that TU should have kept its doors closed to an event that needed space. This is only to say that there were better ways the competition could have been organized. The high schoolers should have been given a recreational space to hang out and relax during the multi-day long competition that was separate from the university’s everyday functioning. If the students had just been moved to the second floor of ACAC, they could have had a decent amount of space to sprawl out in that would not have been a massive inconvenience to students giving their life savings to come here.

Senior Jeana Brewer shared how she felt being bombarded by debate and speech competitors. “I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of high schoolers there were in the ACAC. Not only did it take forever to receive my food, but I also couldn’t find a place to sit.” The intrusion of the space we have come to call ours was observed by all, making us feel like outsiders on our own campus.

Junior Alex Soeder observed the high schoolers “walking barefoot and sleeping on the floor of the union.” He commented, “it seemed that every square inch of space was occupied with debate and speech kids who refused to accommodate the college students who attend this university.”

There were also issues with the organization of spaces beyond ACAC. High schoolers showed up for performances in classrooms that were actively being used for regular university classes. Students refused to leave, claiming that the space was rightfully theirs. Of course it was theirs; this is an active university with adults attempting to pursue various degrees.

Soeder stated, “With some of these high schoolers attempting to steal classrooms from scheduled courses, students were left speechless as they were essentially kicked out of their scheduled classrooms for speech and debate students who felt entitled to a classroom they had reserved on Ad Astra.”

When asked how she feels about TU hosting the debate teams, Peighton Johnson discussed her experience during last semester’s debate competition. She stated, “I was taking an exam in Chapman [room] 122 and the debate competition was happening next door in [room] 123.” Johnson claimed that the “screaming” coming from room 123 was distracting enough for her professor to intrude on their competition and ask them to lower their volume. She was exasperated with the nuisance.

These high schoolers disrespected our university and carried themselves with all the maturity one could expect from high schoolers whose hormones have not yet balanced out. Overheard laughing about teen suicide rates, these children did not add anything of value to our environment.

Once again, I am not advocating for this competition to be held anywhere else. I just beg that it would be better organized in the future, and that these high schoolers would carry themselves with just a fraction of the maturity they pretend to hold as speech and debate competitors.

Post Author: Savannah Maughan