The cure to cabin fever

Has being pent up inside during these long winter months got you frustrated? If so, you may have cabin fever. Luckily, there is a cure: the Cabin Fever Debates.

The Cabin Fever Debates were established in 2006 for amateur debaters and has been held every spring since. They mimic the British Parliamentary Debate form, which has four teams. Two teams argue for the proposition and the other two argue for the opposition. The winners are determined by judges based on presentation and strategy.

The Cabin Fever Debates coach Steve Johnson announces the topic a week prior. He determines which side each team argues on by pulling slips of paper out of a comically large leprechaun hat. The teams then have a week to prepare their debates, regardless of their actual viewpoints on the chosen topic.

This year, over 30 teams of two students each with names such as “This Is Half-Vegan,” “Went to Get Milk” and “Blue Velvet” competed in eight preliminary elimination rounds. In the final round, only four teams will remain.

Suparat Prasannet, who is pursuing a double major in marketing and management info systems, gets a rush out of debating once she overcomes her initial nerves.

“The whole process is a lot more interactive than I thought it would be,” Prasannet said. “The audience isn’t just sitting there. You know how in a show, even if it’s the most amazing show ever, you just sit and you’re immersed? But [at the Cabin Fever Debates], you’re physically banging on the table, asking questions. It’s kind of addictive.”

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Mitchell Jones II, who is double majoring in international studies and global social sciences, went from not knowing much about debating to becoming a stand-out debater. By observing his peers in the Cabin Fever Debates, he figured out how to apply his theater background to analyzing complex issues via competitive debate.

“It’s just going to be a lot of fun seeing all of these people debate about topics that they might not necessarily agree with,” Jones said. “That’s what this encourages. Think a little bit outside your usual norms and preconceived biases.”

The Cabin Fever Debates has been a tradition for twelve years.  This is Dakota Seibert’s third year participating, and he is determined to make it past the semi-finals for the first time.

“[The audience] will realize ‘oh, I can do this,’” Seibert said. “Then maybe next year they can come to Cabin Fever Debates and be one of the people who win $50-$500.”

Though the champion team is awarded $1,000, admission for the debates is free and all are welcome to watch.  So cure your cabin fever by spending Thursday night watching Cabin Fever Debates.

The final round is at 7 p.m. on March 7 at the Fine Arts Building room 150. The topic debated will be instituting a tax to fund Alaska state services instead of cutting the Permanent Fund Dividend. For more information, contact Steve Johnson at (907) 786-4391.

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