DENTON — After achieving success at multiple parliamentary debate tournaments during the past five months, two members of the University of North Texas Debate Team were selected for the 2018 National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, which will be held March 28-31 at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.


Matthew Hernandez, a freshman broadcast journalism and political science major from Athens, and Abron Hester, a senior political science major from Harker Heights, qualified for the national tournament as one of the top 64 teams, representing more than 20 colleges and universities, in the nation. The two won the National Parliamentary Debate Association division at the annual fall Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association Championship Tournament last November, giving UNT Debate its second win in a row for that tournament’s parliamentary debate division. In addition to winning the division, Hernandez and Hester both received speaker awards.


Hernandez and Hester also placed at tournaments held at the University of Utah, William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri and Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. They are currently ranked by the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence as 39th out of more than 600 college and university two-student teams in the nation.


“Hester and Hernandez have had a great season so far,” said Brian Lain, Director of Debate at UNT. “UNT Debate is happy to represent our university at nationals. Our long history of speaking success continues with a new generation of students.”


Hester, who was named to 2016-17 Texas All-State Forensic Squad by the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association, also represented UNT in the 2017 National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence with another debate partner.


Founded in 2000, the National Parliamentary Debate Association is the largest national intercollegiate debate organization in the U.S. Parliamentary debate focuses more on rhetoric than policy debate, and while policy debate tournaments have one assigned topic, topics in parliamentary debate change for every round. The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence will give participating teams the topics three weeks before the start of the tournament.