Rutgers University Debate Union

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Rutgers University Debate Union
Unofficial Seal of RUDU
General Information
Established 2001
2016 Executive Board [1]
President Pasha Temkin '18
Vice President Max Albert '19
Treasurer Naeem Hossain '18
Public Relations Chair Andrea Vacchiano '19
Novice Mentor David Vinarov '19
Events Director [1]
Tournament Director Jeremy Kritz '19
Debate Coach Matthew Maddex

The Rutgers University Debate Union (RUDU) is Rutgers University's intercollegiate debate team. Re-founded in 2001, the Union's roots extend back to the 18th century literary societies that existed at Rutgers (then Queen's College). There have also been the tradition of King's-Queen's Debates with Columbia University (then King's College) when Rutgers was known under its founding name of Queen's College.[2] RUDU currently competes on the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) circuit[3] and finished the 2010-2011 season ranked fifth in that league.[4] At the end of the most recent 2012-2013 season, RUDU was ranked third.[5] RUDU also took sixth place in the North American Parliamentary Debate Championships 2012[6] and ninth place in the US National Championships 2013.[7]


While RUDU was re-founded in 2001 after a period of dormancy, there is a strong history of debate at Rutgers. The team not only debated Columbia in the King's/Queen's debates of the 18th century,[8] they also purportedly took part in the first intercollegiate debate of the modern era, held against New York University in 1881.[8] Paul Robeson was a member of Rutgers' debate team[9] during his time there in the 1910s. Rutgers debaters were often quite successful, notching a long winning streak in the early 20th century[10] and defeating Harvard University in 1947.[11]

Rutgers debaters made the elimination rounds at the first-ever National Debate Tournament in 1947[12] and went on to compete in debate events nationally until about 1997.[8] The team also competed in speech events for much of the 1970s and 1980s, reaching a national ranking of 17th at the National Forensics League championship in 1980. Among the notable members of this period were J.G. Harrington, who later became the first Rutgers alumni inducted into the National Forensics Hall of Fame, Paul Mansfield, a national quarter-finalist in Impromptu Speaking in 1980, and David Fischler, a national quarter-finalist in Rhetorical Criticism in 1980 who led the team from 1977 to 1980.[8] The Debate Union appears to have disappeared completely from the campus from 1997-2001 before its modern rebirth.


RUDU is run by an elected six-person Executive Board who serves a calendar-year term starting in January.[13] The E-Board makes nearly all decisions pertaining to management of the team. Currently, the E-Board consists of six members: a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Public Relations Chair, Novice Mentor, and Alumni Coordinator, while the Co-Tournament Directors are ancillary to the E-Board.[1]

In addition to the E-Board, RUDU is run by a full-time Coach, who is an employee of the University.[14] In its modern incarnation, Rutgers went without a Coach from 2001-2009. Storey Clayton, the current Coach, began coaching RUDU in the fall of 2009.[15] Chris Baia joined the team as Assistant Coach in 2012.[16]

National Competition[edit]

RUDU competes in the American Parliamentary style of debate as a member of the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA), which is an intercollegiate debate association with over fifty member universities across the United States.[3] RUDU attends tournaments across the country each week during the APDA season, from September through April.

The team also hosts an annual tournament in the spring, the Rutgers Invitational, traditionally either in February or April. This event attracts many APDA institutions from around the country. With 81 competing teams,[17] the 2012 tournament was the largest of the twelve RUDU has hosted in its modern incarnation. As of 2013, The College of William and Mary has won the most Rutgers Invitationals.[18]

Public Debates[edit]

RUDU has recently increased its visibility on the Rutgers campus with a number of public debates designed to facilitate discussion of current events:

Project Civility Debates[edit]

On October 5, 2010, four RUDU debaters faced each other in a public debate on the topic of civility among college students, in conjunction with Rutgers' new Project Civility.[19] A second Project Civility debate was held on April 27, 2011 and involved Rutgers faculty and the Rutgers–Newark policy debate team as well as RUDU members.[20] A third Project Civility debate was held on September 21, 2011 and involved four RUDU members discussing the practice of marginalized groups reclaiming words traditionally used against them.[21] A fourth Project Civility debate, also involving Rutgers–Newark, was held on April 11, 2012 and discussed the validity of the practice of "covering" one's identity, based on Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenji Yoshino.[22]

Transatlantic Debates[edit]

RUDU competitors face the RU Association of International Relations in a public debate on December 10, 2012.

On November 29, 2010, RUDU debaters faced the Rutgers Model United Nations team in a debate sponsored by the Transatlantic Climate Bridge about the development of renewable sources of energy.[23]

On December 10, 2012, RUDU again faced Rutgers MUN (Rutgers University Association of International Relations [RUAIR]) on various issues of US-German cooperation and the future of NATO.[24]

The Rutgers University Debate Union was defeated in both debates against the MUN Team.

Vegetarianism Debates[edit]

On December 1, 2010 Bruce Friedrich, Vice President of Policy for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) came to Rutgers to face two RUDU debaters on the ethics of eating meat.[25]

On March 13, 2013, four RUDU debaters reprised this debate, this time representing both sides in an event co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Vegetarian Society.[26]

King's/Queen's Debates[edit]

On April 29, 2011, RUDU joined the Columbia University Parliamentary Debate Society to revive a centuries-old tradition from the earliest days of both Rutgers and Columbia, when they were Queen's and King's Colleges, respectively.[2] The first King's/Queen's Debate in many years, hosted at Columbia, discussed the release of prisoners convicted under repealed laws.[27]

Rutgers Day Debates[edit]

On April 30, 2011, RUDU held three debates as part of Rutgers Day festivities. These debates discussed foreign policy in the Middle East, green energy, and gender-neutral student housing at Rutgers.[28]

Constitution Day Debates[edit]

On September 19, 2011, RUDU held a public debate to discuss whether the Constitution ought be amended to include a right to a free college education. All four participants were RUDU members and the audience voted at the end, agreeing that the affirming (Government) team had won the round.[29]

The second annual Constitution Day Debate was held on September 24, 2012. Four RUDU members debated on the topic of whether the US states should call for a Constitutional Convention to discuss the role of money in political campaigns. A one-vote margin of a vote of those in attendance decided for the negative (Opposition) team.[30]

Trenton Central High School Debate[edit]

On December 15, 2011, RUDU defeated Trenton Central High School in a large public debate on morality and when it is acceptable to kill innocent people to save more lives. Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack and several other noted community figures were on hand.[31][32]

Presidential Debate Watch Party/Analysis[edit]

On October 22, 2012, RUDU hosted a party with analysis to discuss the third of the United States presidential election debates, 2012. Four RUDU speakers previewed the debate and answered questions after from an audience of over 100 Rutgers students.[33]

Point Pleasant Borough High School Debates[edit]

On October 25, 2012, four RUDU debaters went to demonstrate parliamentary debate for Point Pleasant Borough High School in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The debates were attended by students of Ms. Stefanie Garguilo’s two sections of debate class, newly offered this year at the high school. Two rounds were held, one for each class.[34]

On April 23, 2013, the team returned with four participants for another two debates, one for each class.[35]

Climate Change Divestment Debate[edit]

On February 6, 2013, four RUDU debaters paired up with two faculty to debate whether Rutgers ought divest from fossil fuel companies to combat climate change. Each team consisted of two RUDU debaters and one faculty member and the event was attended by nearly 200 students and faculty. The debate was based on the movement as discussed on-campus by Bill McKibben earlier that week.[36]

Globe-Med Persuasion Seminar[edit]

On February 19, 2013, four RUDU debaters did a brief demonstration round for a meeting of Globe-Med’s Rutgers chapter, followed by a 40-minute seminar on persuasion with non-profits and potential donors by Coach Clayton. This is one of the first official community service events conducted by RUDU.[35]

Class Wish Education Debate[edit]

On March 5, 2013, four RUDU debaters did back-to-back one-on-one rounds on education policy for ClassWish Rutgers. The topics discussed were whether tenure in the public school system is good for students and whether art, music, and drama classes are necessary for K-12 education.[35]

UMDNJ/RWJS Healthcare Debate[edit]

On April 8, 2013, four RUDU debaters conducted a short round on whether it was ethical to ration some healthcare procedures for some in order to ensure more expansive access to healthcare for all. About fifty University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) students at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) attended the event.[37]

SC&I Public Speaking Contest[edit]

On May 4, 2013, RUDU co-sponsored the Public Speaking Contest, the first held in many years at Rutgers, for students who have taken the School of Communication and Information (Rutgers University)'s Public Speaking course (COMM 380). Coach Storey Clayton and Assistant Coach Chris Baia, who teaches COMM 380, were among the judges, and two RUDU debaters were among the participants.[38]


Year Name
2001-2002 Samuel Kim '03
2002-2003 Ross Mazer '06
2003-2004 Ross Mazer '06
2004-2005 Ross Mazer '06
2005-2006 Ross Mazer '06
2006-2007 Carl Kunda '07
2007-2008 Carl Kunda '07
2008-2009 Eric Knecht '10
2009-2010 Eric Knecht '10
2010-2011 David Reiss '11
2011-2012 Chris Bergman '13
2013 Ashley Novak '14
2014 Quinn Maingi '15
2015 Sean Leonard '16
2016-2017 Pasha Temkin '18



  1. ^ a b c Rutgers University Debate Union Official Website, "E-Board": - accessed August 20, 2013
  2. ^ a b Daily Targum, February 10, 1994:
  3. ^ a b American Parliamentary Debate Association, "Contacts": - accessed March 21, 2011
  4. ^ American Parliamentary Debate Association, "Club of the Year": - accessed May 2, 2011
  5. ^ Intrabartola, L., "Rutgers Debate Union Trumps Harvard: Team transitions from underdog to ranking third nationally in four years", Rutgers Today, March 29, 2013:
  6. ^ American Parliamentary Debate Association, "Hart House NorthAms 2012": - accessed March 28, 2012
  7. ^ Bregman, Z., "Debate team finishes year with record ninth rank", Daily Targum, April 30, 2013:
  8. ^ a b c d Rutgers University Debate Union official website, "History": - accessed May 25, 2011
  9. ^ Boyle, S.T. and Bunie, A.: Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise and Achievement, University of Massachusetts Press, 2005:
  10. ^ "Ninth Victory for Rutgers Debaters", New York Times, June 4, 1905:
  11. ^ "Debaters Bow to Rutgers in Sixth Contest of Term", Harvard Crimson, March 5, 1947:
  12. ^ NDT official results, 1947-1956: - accessed May 25, 2011
  13. ^ Rutgers University Debate Union Official Website, "RUDU Elects 2012 Executive Board": - December 8, 2011
  14. ^ Intrabartola, L., "Scrappy Rutgers Debate Team Rises to National Ranks", Rutgers Today, April 4, 2011:
  15. ^ Tatulli, P., "U. debate team earns top national ranking", Daily Targum, November 16, 2010:
  16. ^ Rutgers University Debate Union official website, "Debate Union Hires Chris Baia as Assistant Debate Coach": - June 11, 2012
  17. ^ Rutgers University Debate Union Official Website, "Yale Defeats American for Rutgers 2012 Title", February 21, 2012:
  18. ^ Rutgers University Debate Union Official Website, "RU Invitational": - accessed August 20, 2013
  19. ^ "University debate team grapples over civility", Daily Targum, October 6, 2010:
  20. ^ Diamante, R., "Campaign spends year encouraging civility on campus", Daily Targum, April 28, 2011:
  21. ^ Introna, S., "Project Civility continues second year on campus", Daily Targum, September 28, 2011:
  22. ^ Kent, S., "Students from New Brunswick, Newark debate covered identity", Daily Targum, April 12, 2012:
  23. ^ Kumar, R., "Model UN, Debate union face off on environmental policy", Daily Targum, December 5, 2010:
  24. ^ Schroer, H., "U. int’l relations group defeats debate union by slim margin", Daily Targum, December 10, 2012:
  25. ^ Arango, V., "Debate team, PETA talk meat-eating ethics", Daily Targum, December 2, 2010:
  26. ^ Facebook, "Vegetarian Society Debate: Should You Be a Vegetarian?", March 13, 2013:
  27. ^ Rutgers University Debate Union Official Website, "Rutgers, Columbia Revive Centuries-Old Tradition": - May 2, 2011
  28. ^ Branson, K., "A Great Debate at Rutgers Day", Rutgers Day Official Blog, April 7, 2011:
  29. ^ Rowe, A., "Students debate over right to free higher education", Daily Targum, September 20, 2011:
  30. ^ Morreale, M., "Debate team questions Constitutional Convention’s use", Daily Targum, September 26, 2012:
  31. ^ Parker, L.A., "Sterling Trenton High debate team set to take on Rutgers", The Trentonian, November 19, 2011:
  32. ^ Costa, S., "Trenton teacher is on a mission to inspire", The Times of Trenton, December 22, 2011:
  33. ^ Crocker, R., "Debate Watch Party Draws More Than 100 Students": - October 23, 2012
  34. ^ Rutgers University Debate Union official website, "Rutgers Visits Point Pleasant Borough HS for Two Exhibition Debates", October 25, 2012:
  35. ^ a b c Rutgers University Debate Union official website, "Public Debates": - accessed August 20, 2013
  36. ^ Otero, J., "Students, faculty debate ethics of oil company investment ", Daily Targum, February 8, 2013:
  37. ^ Rutgers University Debate Union official website, "Rutgers 7th at Brandeis, Debates Health Ethics at UMDNJ", April 9, 2013:
  38. ^ Rutgers School of Communication and Information official website, "50 Applicants Square Off During Public Speaking Contest": - accessed August 20, 2013

External links[edit]