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The Mississippi State University Speech and Debate Council will host the fifth annual State Debates at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the Colvard Student Union ballroom.

MSU Speech and Debate Council adviser Cheryl Chambers said the event will be live-streamed from the speech and debate Facebook and Instagram pages and the participating political organizations' pages.

State Debates will be a discussion about current issues between three different political groups on campus. The participating groups include College Republicans, College Democrats and Young Americans for Liberty.

Tyler Melvin, a junior history major and the MSU Speech and Debate Council's president, said four debaters from the College Democrats, two debaters from Young Americans for Liberty and about four debaters from College Republicans will be at State Debates.

"It is important to note that they are representing the actual parties and not just ideological groups," Melvin said. "There are plenty of ideological groups, but these are the Republicans, Democrats and the Libertarians who call themselves Young Americans for Liberty."

According to Melvin, the debate will have three rounds for topics about education, healthcare and immigration. The fourth round gives the audience time to ask questions.

Vice President of Speech Mia Robertson said she believes this event promotes dialogue and discussion on campus and gives political parties a chance to rationalize their views.

"It is more important than ever in our country that people are willing to listen to the perspective of those they disagree with and that people are willing and able to rationalize their beliefs," Robertson said. "Basically, COVID-19 changed everything in our lives and a lot of us were forced to question things we previously believed and how the status quo works." 

Adviser Chambers said Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill is the guest speaker, and Brett Harvey, MSU's Title IX Director and debate coach, is the moderator of State Debates.

"Mayor Spruill was our guest speaker two years ago, and she did a really fantastic job talking to the students," Chambers said. "Usually, the president of the Speech and Debate Council will say something, and I will say something as the advisor of the Speech and Debate Council."

Robertson said the event will have a limited attendance and follow all COVID-19 protocols established by the university.

"Everyone will be required to wear a mask as usual, and since we are in an auditorium, people will be able to socially distance," Robertson said. "We will ensure the facility is clean, and we will make sure everything is wiped down."

Additionally, Robertson said audience members will not be using microphones to ask questions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Debaters are required to keep masks on because they will be sharing microphones during the event.

Melvin said State Debates is important for students to attend to gain rationalization skills and exposure to new ideas. He said the event also provides an opportunity to get involved with the Speech and Debate Council.

"If you come to an event like this, you have a pretty good representation of what each party believes on some of the biggest issues this country is facing," Melvin said. "Hopefully, this helps to make a good decision on who someone is going to vote for and support in upcoming elections."

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