The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

After Winning Top Competition Honors, DVC Speech & Debate Entertains At Home


Speech Night is a popular event each semester at Diablo Valley College — a night when persuasive speech, oral communication skills and entertaining debates are on view, as students from the school’s award-winning Speech & Debate team put on a lively public performance.

This fall’s event, held Nov. 8, included a debate between two groups of students weighing the pros and cons of Rate My Professors — the controversial website recently covered in this publication.

Debate coach Paul Villa told The Inquirer why the team chose the topic. “It sounds fun,” he said.

“All professors hate it, [and] students can define it.”

Robert Hawkins, professor of communication studies and winner of the 2023 Teacher of the Year award for the Contra Costa Community College District, said some of the program’s top talent was on display during the debate.

“We definitely chose our best students, only because we want to show some of the top stuff that we have,” Hawkins said. To clarify, he added, “that doesn’t mean that students who don’t perform aren’t good.”

Hawkins and Villa boast an impressive track record of producing award-winning Speech & Debate teams at DVC.

Most recently, at the Paul Winters & Pat Kennedy Invitational held Nov. 3-5 at University of the Pacific, DVC Speech & Debate took home first place for Overall Team performance as it competed with the likes of UC Berkeley, University of Nevada, Concordia University Irvine and other four-year schools.

Numerous students from DVC shined at the event, bringing home top honors in a range of categories: Harsimar Saini won first place as Overall Top Speaker; Emily Hitomi won first place in the Lincoln Douglas Debate; Neena Mordine won first place for Program Oral Interpretation; Mordine and Tony Senhaji won first place for Duo Interpretation, and Daniella Lozano won first place for Dramatic Interpretation.

To celebrate their wins, members of the team put on a show during Speech Night where they presented arguments both for and against Rate My Professors, the website where students anonymously grade teachers for their performance.

Hitomi and Saini argued that “RMP is harmful for teachers,” while fellow team members Jason Sabbadini and Ameya Puranik made their case why the site is valuable. At the end of the debate, the audience took a live vote, with the winning team determined by applause.

Sabbadini and Puranik, who explained the advantages of the website, were deemed the winners. Hawkins himself refrained from voting, but admitted which side he was on.

“I didn’t vote because I am biased,” he said. “I think Rate My Professors is terrible. But I thought the better debating was done by the team that voted for [it].”

Students can join a debate team by taking the COMM 163 class and enrolling in either 1 or 2 units. They can also contact professors Hawkins or Villa, who co-direct the team. In addition, all are welcome to come Tuesdays and Wednesdays to Humanities 109 at 2:30, to experience the Speech & Debate team in action.

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Yelyzaveta Voronina, Staff Writer

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