WATCH: Vanderbilt hosts debate exhibition on topic of TikTok bans

Vanderbilt University hosted an exhibition Feb. 3 designed to introduce the public to the craft of debate. 

The University of Mississippi teamed with Vanderbilt to host the debate exhibition in Wilson Hall. The free event, part of an effort to increase civic engagement on Vanderbilt’s campus, drew an audience from the higher ed and Nashville communities. 

The two-person teams at the exhibition debated the proposition “Resolved: Universities should ban the use of TikTok on university-provided devices and internet networks.” This year’s topic was timely, as higher education institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin and Auburn University, have implemented bans on TikTok despite protests from students. 

Incorporating discussion of free expression when social media policies at colleges are dominating headlines made this year’s theme particularly relevant, said John Koch, director of debate and a senior lecturer in Vanderbilt’s Communication Studies program, which houses the debate program. 

This public exhibition was part of a larger national debate tournament that Vanderbilt hosted over the weekend. About 100 students from 30 universities participated in the campus tournament. 

The debate program is one way Vanderbilt students can practice the reasoned, respectful exchange of ideas that is essential for learning and discovery at a university and for participation in civic life. Free expression, open inquiry and civil discourse are closely held values at Vanderbilt, and the university is undertaking a number of efforts to ensure that they survive, on campus and off, amid the polarization of the current political moment.  

Vanderbilt has built an international reputation as a debate powerhouse, and its annual tournament has drawn dozens of schools to the competition over the years. 

Watch the debate: