Cross Examination Debate Association

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Cross Examination Debate Association
Nonprofit organization, policy debate
Founded 1971
Headquarters United States
Key people
Amber Kelsie, President[1]

The Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) (/sidə/ SEE-duh) is the largest intercollegiate policy debate association in the United States. Throughout the school year, CEDA sanctions over 60 tournaments throughout the nation, including an annual National Championship Tournament that brings together over 175 individual debate teams from across the nation to compete on the basis of research, persuasive speaking, argumentation, and philosophy.


Founded in 1971 as the Southwest Cross Examination Debate Association, CEDA is now the primary national association promoting policy topic intercollegiate academic debate. In cooperation with the National Debate Tournament Committee and the American Debate Association, CEDA formulates the annual intercollegiate policy debate topic used in tournament competition throughout the nation.

CEDA acts as a tournament sanctioning agent, providing through its Constitution and By-Laws a framework for normalizing tournament practices and procedures. Throughout the tournament season, CEDA calculates the National Sweepstakes Standings, the national and regional rankings of member institutions based on compiled tournament results.

CEDA also functions as a professional association for scholars and teachers in the field of applied argumentation and debate. In addition to sponsoring scholarly programs on issues of interest to association members at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, CEDA has organized two indigenous scholarly assessment conferences: The 1991 St. Paul 20th Anniversary Assessment Conference, and the 2001 Tahoe Conference on Academic Debate. CEDA and the NDT co-sponsored a third professional conference, The 2009 National Developmental Conference at Wake Forest University. The 2009 Conference was directed by Dr. Allan Louden of Wake Forest University. The conference proceedings were edited by Louden and published by the International Debate Education Association Press as Navigating Opportunity: Policy Debate in the 21st Century.

CEDA also publishes Contemporary Argumentation and Debate: The Journal of the Cross Examination Debate Association, a refereed scholarly journal that serves as the primary outlet for monographs and essays addressing issues related to the theory and practice of academic debate. The journal is edited by Dr. Jennifer Bevan of Chapman University and Dr. Gordon Stables of the University of Southern California.

For a number of years, CEDA employed a two-person team value debate format. CEDA utilized two topics each year, one governing the Fall Semester and the second governing the Spring Semester. For the Spring 1996 topic, it was voted[2] to continue debating the fall topic about Mexico. Beginning with the 1996-1997 season, however, CEDA has employed a single, year-long policy debate topic.

In 1996, the NDT and the American Debate Association agreed to employ the CEDA topic during their seasons, effectively unifying the organizations.


In the 2013 tournament, the winning team from Emporia State University was criticized for using personal memoirs and rap music to criticize white privilege during the debate.[3][4] Opponents to this form of debate argue that rhetorical tools utilized by recent championship teams violated the anti-harassment policies of CEDA and the National Debate Tournament and common sense.[5] CEDA President Paul Mabrey points to the value of limited actual formal rules in CEDA debate and the ways that a variety of forms of debate raise the educational value of the activity and call these objections "nothing other than thinly-veiled racism."[6]

In 2014, despite winning the tournament, the winning team from Towson University was criticized by these observers for referencing racial slurs. In the wake of this controversy, CEDA President Paul Mabrey stated in an official CEDA video of that the accusations of poor preparation and incomprehensibility “...[R]epresent the worst of our human bigotry. These attacks on Towson, Oklahoma, and others in our debate community are motivated by racism and fear.”[6]

National Tournament results[edit]

Debate topics[edit]

Academic Year Topic
1971–1972 RESOLVED: That the US should withdraw its ground combat forces from bases located outside the Western Hemisphere.
1972 Fall RESOLVED: That the penal system in the US should be significantly improved.
1973 Spring RESOLVED: That the US should seek to restore normal diplomatic and economic relations with the present government of Cuba.
1973 Fall RESOLVED: That “victimless crimes” should be legalized.
1974 Spring RESOLVED: That the US should reduce its commitment to Israel.
1974 Fall RESOLVED: That the federal government should grant amnesty to all those who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.
1975 Spring RESOLVED: That American television has sacrificed quality for entertainment.
1975-1976 RESOLVED: That education has failed its mission in the US.
1976-1977 RESOLVED: That legal protection of accused persons in the US unnecessarily hinders law enforcement agencies.
1977-1978 RESOLVED: That Affirmative Action promotes deleterious hiring practices.
1978-1979 RESOLVED: That the US policy significantly directed toward the furtherance of human rights is desirable.
1979-1980 RESOLVED: That compulsory national service for all qualified US citizens is desirable.
1980 Fall RESOLVED: That protection of the national environment is a more important goal than the satisfaction of American energy demands.
1981 Spring RESOLVED: That activism in politics by religious groups harms the American political process
1981 Fall RESOLVED: That unauthorized immigration into the US is seriously detrimental to the US.
1982 Spring RESOLVED: That the American judicial system has overemphasized the rights of the accused.
1982 Fall RESOLVED: That a unilateral freeze by the US on the production and development of nuclear weapons would be desirable.
1983 Spring RESOLVED: That individual rights of privacy are more important than any other Constitutional right.
1983 Fall RESOLVED: That US higher education has sacrificed quality for institutional survival.
1984 Spring RESOLVED: That federal government censorship is justified to defend the national security of the US.
1984 Fall RESOLVED: That the method of conducting presidential elections in the US is detrimental to democracy.
1985 Spring RESOLVED: That the US is justified in providing military support to nondemocratic governments.
1985 Fall RESOLVED: That significant government restrictions on coverage by US media of terrorist activity are justified.
1986 Spring RESOLVED: That membership in the UN is no longer beneficial to the US.
1986 Fall RESOLVED: That improved relations with the Soviet Union are a more important objective for the US than increased military preparedness.
1987 Spring RESOLVED: That regulations in the US requiring employees to be tested for controlled substances are an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
1987 Fall RESOLVED: That continued US covert involvement in Central America would be undesirable.
1988 Spring RESOLVED: That the American judicial system has overemphasized freedom of the press.
1988 Fall RESOLVED: That significantly stronger third party participation in the US presidential elections would benefit the political process.
1989 Spring RESOLVED: That increased restrictions on the civilian possession of handguns in the US would be justified.
1989 Fall RESOLVED: That violence is a justified response to political oppression.
1990 Spring RESOLVED: That the trend toward increasing foreign investment in the US is detrimental to this nation.
1990 Fall RESOLVED: That government censorship of public artistic expression in the US is an undesirable infringement of individual rights.
1991 Spring RESOLVED: That the US Supreme Court, on balance, has granted excessive power to law enforcement agencies.
1991 Fall RESOLVED: That US colleges and universities have inappropriately altered educational practices to address issues of race or gender.
1992 Spring RESOLVED: That advertising degrades the quality of life in the US.
1992 Fall RESOLVED: that the welfare system exacerbates the problems of the urban poor in the United States.
1993 Spring RESOLVED: That the United Nations implementation of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights is more important than preserving state sovereignty.
1993 Fall RESOLVED: That the national news media in the United States impair the public's understanding of political issues.
1994 Spring RESOLVED: That United States military intervention to foster democratic government is appropriate in a post-Cold War world.
1994 Fall RESOLVED: That throughout the United States, more severe punishment for individuals convicted of violent crime would be desirable.
1995 Spring RESOLVED: That the United States should significantly increase the development of the earth's ocean resources.
1995 Fall RESOLVED: That the United States should substantially change its foreign policy towards Mexico.
1996 Spring RESOLVED: That the United States should substantially change its foreign policy towards Mexico. (selected to repeat Fall topic)
2007 - 2008 RESOLVED: That the United States Federal Government should increase its constructive engagement with the government of one or more of: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Syria, and it should include offering them a security guarantee(s) and/or a substantial increase in foreign assistance.
2008 - 2009 RESOLVED: That the United States Federal Government should substantially reduce its agricultural support, at least eliminating nearly all of the domestic subsidies, for biofuels, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, corn, cotton, dairy, fisheries, rice, soybeans, sugar and/or wheat.
2009 - 2010 RESOLVED: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal, and/or substantially reduce and restrict the role and/or missions of its nuclear weapons arsenal.
2010 - 2011 RESOLVED: The United States Federal Government should substantially increase the number of and/or substantially expand beneficiary eligibility for its visas for one or more of the following: employment-based immigrant visas, nonimmigrant temporary worker visas, family-based visas, human trafficking-based visas.
2011 - 2012 RESOLVED: The United States Federal Government should substantially increase its democracy assistance for one or more of the following: Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen.
2012 - 2013 RESOLVED: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on and/or substantially increase financial incentives for energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, wind power.
2013 - 2014 RESOLVED: The United States Federal Government should substantially increase statutory and/or judicial restrictions on the war powers authority of the President of the United States in one or more of the following areas: targeted killing; indefinite detention; offensive cyber operations; or introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities.
2014 - 2015 RESOLVED: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marijuana, prostitution, online gambling, the sale of human organs, physician assisted suicide.
2015 - 2016 RESOLVED: The United States should significantly reduce its military presence in one or more of the following: the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, the Greater Horn of Africa, Northeast Asia.


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