ABOR’s Regent’s Cup

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The Regents’ Cup celebrates free speech and civil discourse at Arizona’s public universities. Students from the universities compete for thousands of dollars in scholarship money during the debate and storytelling event. This year’s theme is the importance of the preservation of democracy. We spoke with Arizona Board of Regents member Larry Penley for more.

“The Regent’s Cup is an opportunity for students to compete with one another, generally around the issues of free speech.” This year, they are focusing around the institutions of democracy.

But at it’s core this is a debate, right?

“We have story telling, but a lot of it is Oxford-style debate. We though that we needed to gage people around civil discourse.” There is a lack of “civil discourse, a lack of being able to talk to people with different views, and both listen to them and present our views in a logical, reasonable way.”

Story telling by way of competition; how does that?

“One of the topics is to have students tell a story in an engaging sort of way that the audience appreciates, learns from. But, I will say that most people attend to the debate issue.”

The theme of all this is the importance of preservation of democracy. Why that theme; why now?

Every generation is charged with protecting democracy. With more and more people questioning the press and the institutions of democracy–free speech included–we find ourselves in a time where democracy is under threat.

Are there winners and losers?

“There are winners!” Arizona State University has one twice before. This is also public speaking experience for students.

As a board, ABOR decided to build in civics education at a collegiate level, but also build-in the ability of students to understand the difference between an argument, a fact, a judgement, and be able to make their argument in a civil way.


Larry Penley, Arizona Board of Regents member

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