Cabin Fever Debates held their final round March 8 in the Fine Arts Building. This year’s finalists debated if “the death penalty is the only just punishment for the Parkland shooter.”
Joey Sweet and Nile Morris made up team Archosaurs, the closing opposition that won this year’s 13th Annual Cabin Fever Debates. This is Sweet’s second consecutive Cabin Fever win and Morris’ first time participating. Morris was also the recipient of the Quianna Clay Prize for Excellence in Debating.
TNL: How were you feeling going into the final debate?
Joey Sweet: I really didn’t know how it was going to go. We were against some very, very good teams, particularly the team Hold Out Boyz. It was my buddy Travis [Klover] and his friend Jordan [Clark]. The way Cabin Fever works is that every member of [Seawolf Debate] has to recruit two teams and that team that was recruited was by my friend Nathan Burns, who is a close friend of mine who I’ve known for a number of years… Ultimately, it came out in our favor.
Nile Morris: The really challenging and interesting and intriguing thing about debate is that you don’t choose the side of the bench you’re on… and so being on closing opposition, whether or not I believed that the only just penalty for the Parkland shooter is death, I have to argue to the best of my abilities that I am against it. The debate really equips you this whole other way of thinking about arguments. Whether or not you agree with the argument, you have to research both sides to create a very holistic one yourself… I felt really confident going into it.
How did it feel when you won?
Sweet: It feels good, I’m not [going to] lie. I entered with the intent of getting all the way to the finals and taking home the grand prize and that’s how it worked out, so I feel very good about it.
Morris: I was elated. We worked really hard and I did my absolute best. Going into each one of those rounds I knew that there were individuals around me that were just as good, if not better, so I felt a lot of satisfaction from coming away with those, knowing I did my absolute best and having a lot of fun. The debates are the most fun I’ve had in ? I can’t even remember how long.
How was your overall experience?
Morris: I had always been kind of apprehensive to participating in Cabin Fever Debate because it’s one thing to know you’re good at something in your circle of friends, everyone is always telling me “you love to argue,” but it’s another thing to be judged by a panel of peers, a panel of judges, let alone a panel of professionals. I always had that apprehension of going, but once I heard was I being recognized for the work I was putting forth, but potentially a contender for winning the whole entire thing, I really felt like I had found something that a lot of people won’t find which is not a calling but a hobby that is also a fulfilling. I’m really fulfilled by debating.
Sweet: It was pretty different from what we’ve seen in the past where, generally, the topics were all pretty serious, which is not to say that past years have been completely silly or unserious, but generally, this year the topics were a bit more worked from the headlines, more geared towards things specific consequences in real world. There weren’t really any conceptual or philosophical sort of rounds; really, the closest one we had to that would probably be the final, because there was a lot of talk in the final round about “what is justice?” and “what is the best method to provide closure to the community in the wake of the shooting?” and things like that. Previously, in some of the other years, they’ve had rounds that focused on UAA. The final motion for 2016 was about whether or not the university should allow guns on campus, for example.
Okay, what was the idea behind your cool team name, Archosaurs?
Sweet: That was Nile’s idea. We were thinking something dinosaur-related and that’s what he came up with.
Morris: Archosaurs are last living relatives of dinosaurs: birds and crocodilians. Both of these animals are ancient apex predators, that have survived for millennia. I wanted to bring that same spirit of determination and survival into our Cabin Fever Debate team and, if you ask me, it definitely worked.
The winning team splits $1,000. Any grand plans for your reward money?
Morris: I went and bought a new pot for my favorite shamrock plant and I’m going to probably buy a few things. I just got a 1989 Subaru Legacy Wagon… it’s very Alaskan. The back window has, like, duct tape and plastic over it. So, in short, a pot for the plants and buy some parts to fix my car over the summer.
Sweet: I’m not sure exactly yet. I do want to save a good portion of it. I do want to be responsible about it ? there is that temptation to just really take a day and blow all of it, and I’m gonna have to resist that urge because it will cover a little bit more than a month’s worth of rent and I know I should be responsible… But, man, I just want to go to the 5th Avenue Mall and absolutely waste every single dollar I have. But I’ll rely on my friends to talk me out of that.