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Lauren Clark English 101 Fall 2008

The Great Debate


Because democracy does not take place on the sidelines.

Context:
Campus life in the United States is rich with complex and often heated discussions. You
may not always immediately notice, but there are important social and political
debates occurring all around you. For example, the controversial proposal to introduce
a University District on WSU’s campus has generated a discussion, which goes beyond
boundary lines and codes, that addresses some of our fundamental beliefs and
concerns as Americans. This particular debate is one in which students, teachers,
university officials, and local law enforcement alike struggle to reconcile the power of
authority with questions about freedom and right to privacy. The U-district debate, like
other major debates about campus-related issues, is a rich example of the way critical
thinking and discussion manifests in student life.

Assignment:
For your next assignment you will work in groups. Ideally, your group will consist of three
people. You will collaborate on a 4-5 page argumentative paper that takes a side in a
major campus controversy that you will sign up for in class. There will be two groups at
work on each controversy, one for and one against.

Each set of groups (for and against) will present their argument to the class, and
together lead a class discussion about their topic. You may create or use anything you
want to aid in the persuasiveness of your presentation. Presentations should run 10-15
minutes. After both groups present they will lead the class in a discussion of their issue.
Each group should prepare at least 3 open-ended questions to help generate
discussion. Your goal in the discussion is not to shoot each other down, but to
encourage your classmates to engage in a tolerant debate about your issue. You will
have a class period to use at your discretion.

Paper Requirements:
1. Your paper must be 4-5 pages (12 point Times).
2. Your paper must include at minimum 6 sources.
3. You must include a bibliography, and it and all in-text citations should be in MLA
format.
4. Your paper should present a clear thesis (an argument either for or against),
which should be supported throughout the paper through ample use of
evidence and analysis. Make sure you are not just presenting facts. Use critical
thinking to analyze your sources.
5. You paper should include at least 1 counter argument.

Paper Due: 10/17


Presentation Week: 10/20-10/24
Lauren Clark English 101 Fall 2008

Presentation Requirements:
1. You will present your argument on the same day as your “opponent” group
presents theirs.
2. Both groups must provide a 10-15 minute long presentation in which you detail
their main arguments for the class. Make sure you clearly identify your thesis for
the audience (let us know what issue you are talking about and what you think
about the issue)
3. You may present in any format, using whatever visual aids you think will be most
useful to your audience.
4. After both groups present they will lead a class discussion about the topic. The
groups should plan to fill the remainder of the class period.
5. Each group will need to prepare at least 3 open ended questions to help
generate discussion.