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HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau to host British debate team

DebateBROWNWOOD – September 29, 2017 – Two members of Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team will publicly debate members of the British National Debate Team on Sunday, October 15, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The exhibition event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

HPU juniors Christopher Freeland of Bangs and Tyler Olin of Howe will debate against British team members Rebecca Howarth and Richard Hunter. The topic for the debate is “This house regrets social media.”

Christopher Freeland, a theatre education major, serves as the Student Speaker Bureau team captain and draws from many years of cross-examination and parliamentary debate. In University Interscholastic League (UIL) Cross Examination debate, Freeland qualified in the state octo-finals as District Champion. In the March 2017 National Christian College Forensics Association national tournament, Freeland ranked 7th National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) Junior Varsity Speaker and debated in the finals junior varsity round of NPDA Debate. Freeland also participates in extemporaneous and impromptu speaking as well as prose and poetry interpretation.

Tyler Olin, a social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major, is in his second year on HPU’s speech and debate team. He had three years’ experience of team policy debate in high school, placing at the regional qualifiers meet his senior year. In college he has been named an octofinalist at a regional tournament in Texas, a semifinalist at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association Fall Championship and a finalist in junior varsity at the National Christian College Forensics Association national championship. He also achieved a semifinalist finish in individual parliamentary debate at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association Fall Championship.

Rebecca Howarth studied economics with German at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 2015. Her key debating achievements include reaching the quarter finals of the European University Debating Championships in Vienna, Austria. Between 2012 and 2015, she won five and qualified for the finals of approximately 14 national and international competitions. While studying abroad in Berlin, she reached the finals of the “German as a foreign language” category of the German National Debating Championships. She is also an accomplished judge, having been selected as chief adjudicator for approximately six tournaments and judging numerous finals, including the Japanese University Debating Championships. She currently works in management consulting at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she runs a debating initiative designed to improve communication skills in the workplace.

Richard Hunter grew up in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and began competitively debating at a young age, twice reaching the final of the Northern Ireland Schools Debating Competition. He went on to attend the University of St Andrews, pursuing a degree in modern history. While at university, he was able to participate in dozens of competitions in the United Kingdom and around Europe competing against students from all over the world. His debating achievements include reaching the final of the Scottish leg of the John Smith Memorial Mace in 2017 as well as acting as an adjudicator at the European University Debating Championships in 2016 and 2017.

Dr. Julie Welker, HPU professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication, coaches the Student Speaker Bureau.

“We’re proud to host the members of the British National Debate Team and look forward to this opportunity for cultural exchange,” she said. “We hope the community will join us for this exhibition debate.”

High school teachers interested in bringing their students to the debate are encouraged to contact Dr. Welker by e-mail at For more information about HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau, visit