Tarleton State University hosts its third Texan Debate Thursday, April 12, in the lecture hall of the O.A. Grant Humanities Building on the Stephenville campus.

Debate rounds take place at 1, 2 and 3 p.m., with the final set for 7 p.m.

More than 50 teams, including entrants from Central Texas College, Ranger College and TCU will debate removal of Confederate statues in public spaces. The program began with 15 teams just three semesters ago.

Texan Debate is one of Tarleton’s First-Year Experience initiatives, designed to engage freshmen students in communication studies, and improve retention and graduation rates.

Based on a similar program at California’s Chico State University, Texan Debate gathers students in communication classes to consider arguments on various sides of controversial topics.

Participating students, divided into teams of two, do not get to choose which side they argue.

“It’s not about belief; it’s about developing and presenting an argument,” said Dr. Delwin Richey, who leads the program. “I want them to think more like an attorney with a client, and they have to advocate for that client, whether they agree with the client or not. That teaches them how to look at things, not just in a personal manner. They are working on an argument to be successful.”