7 Best Colleges for Debate Teams

Best College Debate Teams

Election Day is fast approaching, and the much-awaited presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is set on Monday, September 26, 2016.

The first debate, which will be held at Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, promises to be an intense one, not only because it will test the platforms of the two candidates, but because Republican elect Donald Trump has been known to fly off the handle in moments of extreme pressure and anger.

How will his opponent, Democrat Clinton handle the debate?

There will be presidential debates on October 4, October 9, and October 19, just a few weeks from Election Day. But people are already expecting the first presidential debate to set the tone.

What can we expect from the two nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

College students no doubt will unblinkingly be tuned in to this debate, weighing and watching the two debaters on screen. But what constitutes a good debater and how would these candidates prepare themselves for the great match?

Well, here are 7 of the best colleges in the country that rigorously prepares their teams for debates, and whose students have won competitions nationally and globally.

7 Best Colleges for Debate Teams

Yale University

Yale University debate team

photo courtesy wikipedia.org

The school’s Yale Debate Association was founded in 1908, and is considered one of the nation’s top debating teams.

It won many awards from the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA), and even won College of the Year from the same organization. Yale has been ranked as high as No. 4 in the latest World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) list.

Since the debate team is old, it has one of the largest alumni networks in the country, often featuring famous historical personalities like former president William Howard Taft, journalist William F. Buckley, activist L. Brent Bozell, Jr., and Stanford Law professor Deborah Rhode, just to name a few.

The YDA hosts multiple competitions around the country for high school and college students, and for the alumni.

The Yale High School Invitational is for high school students, who will compete in twelve contests. The contest is always held at the Yale Campus, and is open to any high school student from around the country.

YDA also hosts intercollegiate competitions, like the Yale Inter-Varsity (IV), which is open to all college students who want to join a debate done in British Parliamentary.

Another competition that stirs interschool sentiments is the Triangulars debate, which is an event for Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, the Big Three. It had started in the 19th century and continues to this day. The debate is popular, often drawing crowds attended by high-ranking officials.

Harvard University

debate team harvard University

image by harvardaed.org

The Harvard College Debate Union (then Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society) was established in 1981, and joined the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) as soon as their financial constraints loosened.

Every since their participation in the National Championships in 1983, the Harvard team has been winning awards one after another.

In 1992 – 1993, the Harvard debate team won in the National Championships, World Championships, and got runner up spots in the North American Championships in ’92 and ’93, which put the team on the map.

Not only that, Harvard University’s debate team has the most number of National Championships wins, and from 2011 – 2015, the group won 4 out of 5 awards in the APDA Championships.

This team is actually different from the Harvard Debate Council, which focuses more on Policy debates. The council was founded in 1892, and has won the National Debate Tournament six times. It’s one of the oldest and most successful debate teams in the country and the world.

Brown University

debate team brown university

image courtesy wikipedia.org

The APDA ranks Brown University No. 2 in its latest College of the Year debate team ranking, and No. 5 as Team of the Year. The Brown Debating Union started in 1824, and had become part of the university’s English Department during the 1950s.

But almost three decades later, the department stopped funding the team, so it became an independent club for the students. Because of this, the team stopped participating in policy debates, and instead joined the parliamentary debates, which weren’t so costly.

The team attends many competitions, and had also won in the North American Women’s Debating Championships a year ago.

Cornell University

cornell university debate

photo by en.wikipedia.org

The Cornell Speech and Debate Union is composed of three teams: Worlds Debate Team, Policy Team, and Speech Team. The Worlds Debate Team joins contests using the British Parliamentary Debate style. This team joins around 14 competitions every year, and they have always been quarterfinalists, semifinalists, finalists, and champions. The team doesn’t leave without an award.

Cornell’s Worlds Debate team is ranked 10th in the World Universities Debating Championships. Their Policy team has garnered many awards, and has advanced to the semifinals and finals round many times, winning championships and special awards.

Their Worlds Debate group has also joined numerous competitions like Bard IV and Yale IV, and Pan-American Championships, where they won in the Spanish Division, among others.

Princeton University

princeton debate team

image courtesy princeton.edu

The Princeton Debate Panel, with Nathan Raab and Anirudh Dasarathy, ranked 1st place in the latest APDA Team of the Year ranking (the team has won 8 of them, plus 9 Speaker of the Year awards). Recently, the team had also won the North American Debating Champions.

The group was founded in 1765, and had started participating in the APDA events as soon as the latter was formed.

Many prominent figures in American history and politics had been part of Princeton University’s debate team: Woodrow Wilson who coached the team, diplomat John Foster Dulles, senator Ted Cruz, Google and Twitter executive Jason Goldman, and many more.

Brandeis University

Brandeis University debate team

photo from usatoday.com

The university’s debate team isn’t so old, but it’s BADASS. The Brandeis Academic Debate And Speech Society (BADASS) was 3rd in last year’s APDA ranking of College of the Year, and 10th in Speaker of the Year.

The team has placed 3rd as Club of the Year three times, and 2nd place two times. They have garnered high awards in the APDA debates ever since 1997.

BADASS consistently ranks in the top 10 among debate teams, and is No. 69 in the world for its debate team.

Rutgers University

debate team rutgers university

image by newbrunswicktoday.com

The Rutgers University Debate Union was re-established in 2001, but the original debate team was founded way back in the 1700s when Rutgers was still called Queen’s College. Back then, although it did not become an Ivy League school, it participated in a debate tradition with then King’s College (now Columbia University), much like the Triangular debate competitions of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

When the two schools had a change of name and some policies, RUDU joined the Columbia University Parliamentary Society to revive the tradition.

In the latest APDA debate, RUDU ranked 6 and 7 in Team of the Year, 5 in Speaker of the Year, and 2 and 3 in Novice of the Year. In previous years, the team had placed as high as 3rd in National Championships.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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