Aubrie Bauer’s hands flew as she argued why President Joe Biden shouldn’t run in the 2024 election. The junior’s passion for signing, debate, and this topic helped her win the 4th Annual Stories and Speeches in Sign Competition, held by Gallaudet’s Center for Democracy in Deaf America (CDDA) in the Multi-Purpose Room in SAC on October 5th. Bauer and her four competitors — all members of Gallaudet’s debate team — prepared stories related to current political controversies to perform for the audience. Before and after every speech, attendees had the chance to vote yes or no on the topic. The goal was to sway the audience’s opinions as much as possible. Excitement in the crowd would rise as votes were tallied about a range of issues, which included climate change and gun control. The results of the audience votes factored into the rankings determined by the two judges, Interim Dean of Faculty, Dr. Paige Franklin, and CDDA Executive Director and debate team coach Dr. Brendan Stern. Bauer took home a $100 Amazon gift card for first place. The second place winner was senior Jonathan Summers for his take on why air travel should be banned. “Honestly, it felt really good to sway the voting score,” he says. “I know completely banning air travel is radical, but I wanted to challenge myself.” Summers appealed to the audience’s sense of guilt with statistics about the staggering environmental effects of air travel, and how we are responsible for preserving the planet. In third place was junior Joe Cherichello for his ideas on why we should fight in schools if there is a shooter. “This competition is an excellent way to boost confidence in debaters, and prepare for the upcoming eventful debate year,” Stern said in his closing statement. CDDA is excited to build on the Gallaudet Debate Team’s historic achievements with its 2023-2024 roster and schedule. Stern and interpreter liaison Adam Bartley now have the help of three former debaters — Aubrey Moorman, Romel Thurman and Lexi Hill — who are serving as assistant coaches. The team features returning veterans Bauer, Clark Barrett, Lorelei Becktel and Trent Mora, as well as five newcomers: Cherichello, Jett Kelly, Emily Nover, Dalina Schwartz, and Summers. This month, the team will be competing in the Huber Debates, a British Parliamentary tournament, and this year’s fall Social Justice Debate Championship November 10th-12th. To wrap up the fall, the team will partner with Gallaudet Athletics and Student Engagement and Leadership (SEL) to host a DebateMania event on November 30th.