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Undergraduate Team Fares Well at Moot Court Event

By Rachel Bender | November 27, 2012

Katherine Nace, Nicole Gibson, Hilary Davenport, and Ryan Keller

In only its second year of Moot Court Competition, Regent University's Undergraduate Debate Association (RUDA) has already proven its mettle. At the Regional Moot Court Tournament, held Nov. 9-10 at Liberty University, one of Regent's six teams advanced to a national spot and College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) sophomore Nicole Gibson was named second best oralist.

While the term "moot court" is often associated with law students, this particular exercise is actually a beloved aspect of debate competition. In fact, the Regent students who participate in RUDA are not pre-law, although some are seriously considering attending law school after graduation.

"At Regent, we want our students to learn a great deal of content about whatever their major is ... and we also want them to develop critical thinking skills, writing skills and debate skills," explained Dr. Caleb Verbois, RUDA's faculty advisor and assistant professor in CAS.

The team of CAS sophomore Hilary Davenport and junior Ryan Keller will compete in the national tournament in January. Regent will host the American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Competition Jan. 18-19.

Gibson received the second best oralist award in recognition of her total scores as an individual speaker. "I am excited that I had the opportunity to compete at regionals," she said. "As an aspiring lawyer, it is encouraging to know that I have the ability to communicate well and speak clearly."

Moot court competition challenges debaters because they must know their material very well. Extensive notes are not allowed and judges are free to interrupt their arguments with questions at any point. "It's really good preparation for any sort of position where you're going to have to think quickly and accurately and speak well," Verbois explained.

CAS senior Katherine Nace, Gibson's teammate, is the head of the RUDA Leadership Board. "When I first joined as a freshman, I had zero debate experience," she said. "Through my first year with RUDA, I learned how to structure logically based arguments, think on my feet, speak in front of people, and respond to opposing arguments. However, gaining confidence as a public speaker was the main benefit that I gained my first year."

Learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences.

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