“Describe an argument,” Professor Jennifer Dunn asked of her audience as a way to open up her discussion, Taking a Stand. This was the first Caritas Veritas symposium I had attended on September 24th, which took place in the lower level Crown Library. There were about 15 people in the audience, and almost everyone had an input in describing an argument, using words such as “anger” and “tense.” According to Professor Dunn, all of the answers given to her question were wrong. An argument done right should not be so controversial, but a mature debate. To know how to argue correctly is to be able to grasp, research, explain, and most importantly defend in a much better manner. To learn to do so, she said one must always keep the following three concepts in mind: preparation, practice, and a positive attitude.
To prepare yourself for an argument, one should know as much as possible of their topic. One must research both the conciliating and opposing sides of the claim so that one is able to not only explain their belief as best as possible, but also know how to defend it. One must also take into consideration any alternatives and consequences before advocating. When this is achieved the next step is to practice. Professor Dunn didn’t mean it as talking to yourself in front of a mirror, but to practice how your words are going to be used. You want your audience to understand you as much as possible, especially the people who are on the opposing side of the argument. Professor Dunn also mentioned to always keep a positive attitude. In an argument, one should always keep an open mind as to what the opposing side has to say, as you would want them to do the same for you.
An argument should not involve resentment, but rather respect for what the other has to say. The genuine way of arguing was then demonstrated in the second symposium I attended- “Illegal Immigrant” versus “Undocumented Immigrant:” Which term is better? This was a debate in which Jennifer Dunn supported the term “illegal immigrant”, while Paul Simpson- Executive Director of Academic Enrichment Center- supported the term “undocumented immigrant.” This debate took place in the Lund auditorium-the large theater in the Fine Arts building in front a large audience. Paul Simpson spoke first and began by stating that the term “undocumented immigrant” is more accurate in the sense of definition and character. He explained that referring to an undocumented immigrant as “illegal” is like referring to them as inhuman. Professor Dunn’s argument was that the term “illegal” doesn’t refer to the person, but the act of their behavior. Both debaters made strong points, in which they quoted or cited a lot of research in relation to their claim. Paul Simpson also said the term illegal was unfair to use considering some undocumented immigrants are going through the process of citizenship or are children who had no control over immigrating into another country illegally. Professor Dunn argued that the term illegal would still apply to those people, and that it’s ok because the term is not negative. She attributes the media as giving the term “illegal” such a negative connotation.
At the end of the debate, there was no winner or loser, just a demonstration of how an argument should be done. Both Professor Dunn and Paul Simpson, thoroughly explained their claim along with their opinions for agreeing with it. Also, each debater was very respectful- kept a good tone, asked and answered each other’s questions, and most importantly sat down and listened as the other spoke. Overall, I absolutely enjoyed both lectures. Taking a Stand was my favorite symposium; it was a great, educational lecture. Professor Dunn pointed out that knowing how to argue is a necessity to everyone, and I was able to see her point in that. Arguing is not about trying to prove someone wrong, but about proving yourself. You need to show where you stand throughout life-whether it’s in a college seminar class or political views- and that’s why it’s important that you give it your all while accomplishing how to argue.
To know how to put your thoughts and reasons out there helps you learn, communicate, and overall build a stronger person. I feel that if I achieve how to argue, I’ll have a higher chance at success. Also, when she mentioned to always practice, I felt it was a little silly at first but then she made me consider my speech skills. I am terrible when it comes to speaking in front of many people. I can always have the right words in the right order in my head, but when they come out they’re all over the place. So I definitely need to practice my speaking. The second symposium, “Illegal Immigrant” versus “Undocumented Immigrant:” Which term is better, was a great way of demonstrating how an argument should be done. Also, they debated over a real life common controversy in this country.
The United States is a very diverse nation, and the audience was diverse as well so I can assume that many already had a sense over this issue. If not, then this debate was good for them to hear; Americans should be well aware of this controversy. I wish I could have asked Professor Dunn for advice on how to overcome the pressure of social acceptance while trying to take a stand. There is always someone who wants to ridicule what you believe, and that can be hard to ignore; especially for someone like myself. A lot of the times I know where I stand, but I do feel weakened when someone is trying to prove me wrong or bring me down. As for the second symposium, I wish I could have asked Professor Dunn and Paul Simpson how they organized themselves and put together all their thoughts because they were able to express them perfectly. They both were using many sheets of paper and I wonder how they each decided to order them and know how and when to use them. I strongly recommend the first symposium, Taking a Stand, because it aims to help anyone. Also, Professor Dunn and Paul Simpson did such a wonderful, interesting debate that I would really enjoy watching them demonstrate another one.