There had never been a member of the 12-person USA Debate Team from Alabama until this year, but now Jane Grey Battle will represent both our state and the country in Singapore, Croatia, Germany, Thailand and several Ivy League schools. On any given weekend you will find her articulating arguments on topics like the Belt and Road Initiative (China’s development strategy to create a trading route that touches every country) everywhere from Spokane, Washington, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida—and mostly recently from a Zoom screen—along with the rest of her team made up of students from both Mountain Brook High School and Mountain Brook Junior High School. We chatted with her to learn more about her interest in debate and more.
What are you looking forward to about being on the USA Debate Team?
I have already started practicing with the other members and getting to know them. They all seem so, so intelligent. Every conversation even outside of debates is challenging because we all have different worldviews.
How did you get into debate, and what do you like about it?
My first summer with the Mountain Brook team my partner and I ended up winning a 2018 national middle school championship, and from there I caught the bug. Every single month we are going super in depth on a new public policy or current event, and we are always reading up on our topic areas. I am always learning something new, and that’s the best part. With our national team, I get to meet students from all across the country. Especially in such a homogeneous group of people I am with in our school system, it’s a good opportunity to break out of that bubble and have some fascinating conversations with others at competitions and intensives.
What is one debate from your career that stands out the most?
There are certain controversial topics, which have been really interesting. We had one on universal background checks, and you had to first assess the judge’s bias and then make arguments with the knowledge that your panel of judges has opinions. That one feels most similar to the real world because no one comes to a topic with a clean slate.
What do you see yourself doing professionally?
I want to do something with international affairs. I am very interested in politics. Through Yale Young Global Scholars I got to meet students from all across the world, and I was being challenged by every single world view there was. I realized how interested I am in learning more about other cultures and perspectives on issues.
What else are you involved with?
I am president of the Justice Club, which is all about issues related to social justice and current events. At each meeting my co-president or I will give a lecture on a different topic. Yesterday was environmental justice, and a week before was criminal justice. I am also the president of a club called Heritage Panel, which is part of the YW and promotes diversity and inclusion in our school system. Right now we are coming up with a book list with diverse authors to put in the library for anyone who wants to gain a different perspective. I am also vice president of Youth Legislature, and I run a youth coalition called Young Votes for a Better Alabama. We did a whole campaign around House Bill 107, which was to repeal Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act, our three strikes law, and we got over 170 letters sent. We are organizing young people whether they can vote or not to get into contact with the people who represent them and share their voices.