Pictured above: University professors Kate Chapman, Matthew Patitz, Noah Bilig, Kate Shoulders and University Housing’s associate director Stephanie Adams stand on stage at the Life Raft Debate event. | Photos by: Halie Brown 

Tensions rise as professors defend their discipline for a chance to win among the life raft.

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By Halie Brown
University Student

On Wednesday an @Home program transported students a millennium into the future, after an apocalypse wipes out the entire human population. The lucky survivors manage to find a raft which they’ll use to find a place to build a new life. The raft can fit everyone but three out of four professors.

The Life Raft Debate gives students the ability to view other colleges on campus as professors struggle to defend their discipline. Students were able to get a better perspective of what each college had to offer, and how many majors could help contribute to rebuild a better society.

The Professors

Matthew Patitz, an associate professor for computer science and engineering represented the College of Engineering, started off the debate. He admitted that he was at a bit of a disadvantage since the beginning; computer science and engineering are a relatively new field, and many of the disciplines from the College of Engineering, while important, wouldn’t be valuable immediately once off the raft.

Patitz pushed himself under the raft so to speak later in the debate, admitting that if there was a choice to keep three out of four professors, he would choose the other three as his discipline was not useful in a dystopian world.

Noah Billig an assistant professor in landscape architecture defended the Fay Jones School of Architecture. Landscape architects create cities and understand systems, Billig boasted that architecture covers a broad spectrum of majors with a mix of arts and science; but it wasn’t broad enough to compete with Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences.

The debate took place in the Arkansas Union Theatre where the stage was transformed into a shipwreck raft.

The Winner

Kate Shoulders, an associate professor in agriculture, came up with the most level headed argument of the night to reach students.

“I’m sure you all like to eat,” Shoulders said, gesturing to the crowd as she leaned into her mic. “And you wear clothes; those were actually grown at some point, and you need folks to do that.”

Mackenzie Payton a freshman chemistry major in Futrall Hall came into the debate believing that agriculture would win because of its necessity after an apocalypse.

“I thought (Shoulders) enunciated everything that she thought really well,” Payton said. “Some people up there I don’t think prepared enough, but it was interesting to see everyone’s perspectives.”

In close second, Kate Chapman came behind Shoulders by four points. A psychology major, and a representative for Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, she kept the crowd on her toes with a sharp tongue and references to pop culture. Without psychology and art, she said, we would devolve into a real life version of the Walking Dead where the people would be the problem, not the apocalypse.