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A letter of condolence to the American University Debate Society

December 3, 2014
Ki'tay Davidson, alumnus of the American University Debate Society, passed away on December 2nd, 2014. He was 22 years old.

Ki’tay Davidson, alumnus of the American University Debate Society, passed away on December 2nd, 2014. He was 22 years old.

Today I learned that one of your debaters, Ki’tay Davidson, passed away in his sleep. I want to offer my most sincere condolences. I was fortunate to compete against Ki’tay while he was on the circuit and from that experience it is an incredible loss to all who call themselves a part of APDA that Ki’tay will no longer be an active part of it. Ki’tay challenged the cookie-cutter homogeneity the league stagnates in. How much more could I learn from another whitewashed Ivy League econ major when I could learn so much more from Ki’tay? And in my limited interaction with him, I was most struck by his earnestness. It was of little surprise when I found this as one of Ki’tay’s favorite quotes on his facebook page:

“When your options are either
to revise your beliefs
or to reject a person,
look again.

Any formula for living
that is too cramped
for the human situation
cries for rethinking.

Hardcover catechisms
are a contradiction
to our loose-leaf lives.”

What could be a more perfect mantra for navigating APDA and life?

In the end, my interactions with Ki’tay were miniscule compared to the relationships he had with your team. That is why this is a letter and not eulogy; I could never hope to capture the Ki’tay that you love.

But where our ground is common is that I know what in a team that Ki’tay was a part of. I was fortunate to find defining friendships on a debate team of my own, the Rutgers University Debate Union. If your experience was anything like mine, the kinship made in such a unit is unlike any other. My relationships on my own team have defined me for the rest of my life, in a way that I’m sure knowing Ki’tay defined you. I found RUDU to be a special kind of enclave. It wasn’t just a team or a club. It was a safe place where I think every member could take a shot at what it meant to be truly sincere with the empowering support of like-minded friends. It was truly a Good place, and it was Good place because of people on my own team, like Ki’tay, that can make out little group greater than the sum of its parts.

And that’s why I feel such personal pain at your loss. While I am not a member of the American Debate Society, I can begin to understand the wellspring of grief that comes from losing a member of your second family. After I heard about his death, I took a look at the RUDU team picture taken last year. I looked into the faces of my current and teammates, people I had known for years now and I would hope to know for years to come. I thought about how knowing each of them defined me in a certain way, to different degrees, but all with influence. And I thought how traumatic it would be to lose any of them. I would lose a partner to the experiences of long van rides, to team dinners, to playing board games, to bowling, to arguments, to conversations, to laughter, to bubble rounds and break rounds and everything in between, to genuine experiences of knowing another person. I would lose a piece of myself; my experiences in RUDU important in the context of who I shared them with.

This provides my base to only begin to understand the real grief you must be going through. In the sadness that results, I hope I can offer some things that I find to be true about those who define us. The grief is painful, but it is the result of an amazing lived experience, to be part of a group of human beings that can connect in such an empowering way. From there I offer my sincerest condolences to the members of the American University Debate Society. While it is unjust to lose someone as amazing as Ki’tay, it teaches me to understand what enriching, magical places ADS and RUDU can be and how privileged we are to be able to spend any amount of time there. I hope that offers some solace.

May Ki’tay rest in power.

Sincerely, Kurt Falk

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