Debaters Reflect After Debate Director’s Resignation

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Mr. Jouya’s 8th block gathered to take a final class picture. The class sent him off with final goodbyes soon after.

By Hibah Ahmed, Yearbooker

Former Director of Debate Mr. Sohail Jouya’s last day was this Tuesday, Sept. 21. He resigned this week and left the program with best wishes for Westwood Debate’s future.

“My hope is for the current debaters to recognize how much they need each other at this moment,” Mr. Jouya said. “I know that they will — when that many talented people come together, success is inevitable and I’ll be tracking it from afar. My time at Westwood is certainly some of my favorite moments of my career and I’m very fortunate to have been here.”

Students were understanding of his decision and shared sincere conversations with Mr. Jouya throughout the rest of the week.

“I can’t name one specific memory as my best memory with [Mr. Jouya],” Nathan Fang ‘22 said. “His playful, yet hard working, mindset was quite possibly what I admired most about him. From DJ Jouya to team prep calls during tournaments, the collective memories of him all together are cherished.”

The morning of Tuesday, Sept. 21, multiple novices stood outside Mr. Jouya’s portable classroom long before class, planning to surprise him with farewell gifts, letters, and bouquets. Many novices were emotional about the news of resignation, even though they had only known the debate teacher for a matter of weeks.

“When [Mr. Jouya] resigned I was in a state of shock, sadness, anger, and pure worry,” Eliza Herbert ‘25 said. “He was my favorite teacher and he made Westwood debate not just feel like a team, but a family. He made such a strong impression on all of us, kind of like your super awesome debate uncle.”

Other novices shared similar feelings.

“Mr. Jouya’s resignation was really upsetting news,” Mauricio Simental ‘25 said. “Having a teacher with experience, like [Mr. Jouya], was virtuous for all of us. The debate program will continue, but I don’t believe it will ever be the same.”

Varsity members, debaters who have been a part of Westwood debate for more than one year, shared words on the sudden news as well.

“I predict that the program will initially suffer a short dip as students’ morale is low,” Anya Gupta, ‘23 said. “I know that students holding elected positions will be sure to encourage their fellow team members, boosting morale and holding up the program.”

The executive council, juniors, and seniors in place to segway through this difficult transition wear hopeful looks for the ongoing season.

“The plan for Westwood Debate is to continue being a self-sufficient team and truly rely on each other for help not just within the activity,” President of debate Hrushi Saranu ‘22 said. “The leadership committee along with our wonderful parent booster club is working very hard  to ensure everything runs smoothly. Without a coach, increased communication is our top priority and we really thank Mr. Jouya for all he’s done. He definitely left us in a place to succeed.”

It’s unknown when Westwood will assign a new Director of Debate, but the program’s booster club is currently working closely with administration in drafting an interim plan for students until further notice. The program will be student-run for now; the executive council and event captains will lead classes, hold practices, and work with novices as the season progresses.

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