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Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Winged Post

Students argue on single-use plastic in Earth Week-themed debate

Lily Shi
Junior Shreyas Chakravarty opens the event by introducing the six participants and the resolution of the debate. Debaters argued on the resolution “The United States should ban single-use plastics.”

The Speech and Debate department held a public debate on the resolution “The United States should ban single-use plastics” on May 1. Held annually during Earth Week, this event raises environmental awareness and showcases student debaters. 

Seniors Adrian Liu and Max Xing opened by laying out the main arguments from the affirmative and negative sides, respectively. In a three-minute speech, Max highlighted how single-use plastics exacerbate climate change and damage human health. Adrian cited the importance of single-use plastic tools in hospitals as well as their role in small businesses and supply chains. 

Sanghwie Yim (11) and Leon Le (9) followed with the first affirmative and negative rebuttal, extending their side’s arguments and refuting the opposition. Manan Gupta (9), arguing for the affirmative, and Krish Goenka (10), arguing for the negative, closed with the final rebuttal speeches. 

“We outweigh [the negation] on timeframe because of the perpetual threat of microplastic consumption, and magnitude, because extinction by climate change affects the 8 billion people living on Earth today and infinite future generations,” Manan said in his speech. “Our impacts are immediate and expansive to people living all around the world.”

Sophomore Anoushka Chakravarty, who helped coordinate the debate, pointed out the complexity of the chosen resolution.

Frosh Leon Le presents the first negative rebuttal, challenging the effectiveness of alternatives to single-use plastics. (Lily Shi)

“[The resolution] has a lot of nuance, and I don’t usually see people thinking about it within the climate debate,” Anoushka said. “Usually environmental topics just focus on the environment versus the economy, but this resolution has a lot of different angles to approach it from. There are a lot of good arguments both against and for it.”

Speech and Debate Department Chair Jenny Achten commended the debaters for their collaboration and performance. 

“As a coach, I was very happy to see students from a variety of speech and debate events work together to present a persuasive debate for a general audience,” Achten said. “Our students can both specialize at tournaments and adjust to a broader audience.”

Junior Shreyas Chakravarty hosted the event, introducing each student with their Speech and Debate achievements and fun facts about their hobbies. The debaters’ arguments were scripted by participants beforehand to spotlight the students and promote the program to prospective members. 

“[The debate] helps with getting more discourse happening about climate change, specifically in this case, single-use plastics,” Max said. “But it has also increased exposure to the program. That’s helpful for freshmen who are currently interested in the program but don’t really know what it’s about.”

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Lily Shi
Lily Shi, Reporter
Lily Shi (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Lily hopes to get to know the members of the journalism team and write many meaningful articles. In her free time, she likes to dance, read, and spend time with her friends.

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