US Universities Debating Championship

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The US Universities Debating Championship (USUDC) is the largest British Parliamentary debating tournament in the United States, and one of the largest debate tournaments in the World. The event is held for college and university students attending school in the United States, and is hosted by a different university each year. The host is selected by the member schools of the US Universities Debate Association. The event determines the National Champions for the year.[1]

Most recently the tournament was hosted by Clemson University in April 2019. The current National Champions are Salil Mitra and Jenny Jiao from Duke University. The Novice (first year) division was won by Prinaya Choubey and Natasha Abrol from the University of Rochester. Ko Lyn Cheang of Yale University was the top individual speaker at the tournament; Greg Weaving of Princeton University was top novice speaker. [2].


USUDC is held in a format based on the World Universities Debating Championship. The tournament is held in April, before most American colleges have their final exams. In recent years about 180 teams have competed at the tournament.[1] Since 2015, only students registered at an American college or university may compete in playoff rounds and be made National Champion, but students from foreign schools can still compete. Before 2015, foreign schools were allowed to compete in playoffs, resulting in a 2012 championship where separate tournament champions and national champions were crowned.

Each team is made up of two students from the same college or university. In a given debate they will compete against three other teams. A motion, or proposition, is given to the teams fifteen minutes before the debate. Two teams are assigned to defend the motion, and two teams to oppose the motion. The teams are judged by a panel of judges who rank them from first place to fourth place and assign scores to each person based on the quality of their speech. In a debate, teams typically go against teams with similar records to themselves, based on a point system where first place is three points, second is two, third is one, and fourth is none. If a team had six points after three rounds, then they would typically compete against other teams with 6 points [3]

After six or eight preliminary rounds there is a "break," announced at the banquet on the second day, and only the top thirty-two teams progress to the third day. On day three rounds are elimination rounds, the bottom two teams in a round do not progress. They begin with octofinals, then quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, and they name the National Champion. Seeding for octofinals is based on the cumulative points the team had at the end of preliminary rounds.

Novices, people in their first year of collegiate debate, have a separate break to novice quarterfinals should they not make the open octofinals. A Novice Champion is then named after the Novice Final. which follows after quarterfinals and semifinals.

US Universities Debate Association[edit]

The US Universities Debate Association (USUDA) is the body which governs USUDC. It was founded in 2013 in order to organize the British Parliamentary debate circuit in the United States.[1] They select the host for the next USUDC each year. Membership in the USUDA is open to all colleges and universities in the United States.

Tournaments By Year[edit]

Harvard has won the Championship four times, Yale twice, and no other school more than once. In 2018, Harvard became the first school to defend the title.[1] University of Chicago and University of Mississippi have submitted bids for the 2020 edition.

Year Host Institution National Champion Finalist Teams Top Speaker
2005 Claremont McKenna College Michael Rose & Tom Lassen, University of Alaska, Anchorage Chris Kolerok & Rose Helens-Hart, University of Alaska, Anchorage; Martin Pinnes & Daniel Streim, Colgate University; Ashish Sinha & Michael Ferris[a], University of British Columbia Josh Martin, University of La Verne
2006 Claremont McKenna College Samuel Myat San & Alexander Schwab, Harvard University Tom Lassen & Chris Kolerok, University of Alaska, Anchorage; Adam Chilton & David Denton, Yale University, Chris Jones & Monica Ferris[a], Athabasca University David Denton, Yale University
2007 Claremont McKenna College Josh Martin & Rob Ruiz, University of La Verne Matt Contreras & Courtney Crooks, Loyola Marymount University; Dan Adler & Eric Sanelle, Portland State University; Brian Kettles and Julie Liztwan[a], University of Alberta & University of Calgary Julia Liztwan, University of Alberta
2008 Portland State University Alexander Schwab & Kevin Kiley, Loyola Marymount University Charles Sprague & Kari Wohlschlegel, Claremont Colleges; Rob Ruiz & Thomas Allison, University of La Verne; Michael Imeson & James Kilcup, Seattle University Kari Wohlschlegel Claremont Colleges
2009 University of Vermont Lewis Bollard & Ben Belser,Harvard University Mike Aguilera & Kevin Kiley, Loyola Marymount University; Robert Embree & Monica Ferris[a], Hart House; Doug Cochran & Daniel Warrents, Middle Temple Daniel Warrents, Middle Temple
2010 Regis University & University of Denver Charlie Sprague & Jesse Katz-Blumenthal, Claremont Colleges Aaron Baker & Lindsay Bing, Portland State University; Alex Campbell & Anish Mitra, Stanford University; Nate Blevins & Naz El-Khatib, Yale University Colin Haughey, University of Alaska, Anchorage
2011 University of Vermont Cormac Early & Jo Box, Harvard University Sarah Carpenter & Amie Stanley, University of Alaska, Anchorage; Maxwell Dovala & Kate Falkenstein, Yale University; Angela Kintominas & David Maher[a], University of New South Wales Cormac Early, Harvard University
2012[b] Willamette University Tournament Champions: Christine Simpson & Michael O’Dwyer, University College, Dublin; National Champions: Buzz Klinger & Will McConnell, Hobart and William Smith Colleges Maxwell Dovala & Kate Falkenstein, Yale University; Kamya Chandra & Nipun Mahajan, St. John's University Sam Ward-Packard, Yale University
2013 University of La Verne Ben Kornfeld & Sam Ward-Packard, Yale University Chris Axtman & Megan Towles, Carroll College; Colin Etnire & Dearv O’Crowley Loyola Marymount University; Emma Pierson & Andrew Suciu, Stanford University Ben Kornfeld, Yale University
2014 Purdue University Taylor Blackburn & Jac Stewart, Bates College Kirat Singh & Srinath Reddy, Cornell University; Colin Etnire & Krikor Kouyoumdjian, Loyola Marymount University; Michael Barton & Sam Ward-Packard, Yale University Michael Barton, Yale University & Sam Ward-Packard Yale University
2015 University of Alaska, Anchorage Tony Nguyen & Edwin Zhang, Yale University Tiffany Keung & Alex Mechanick, Brown University; Fanele Mashwama & Bo Seo Harvard University; Rodjé Malcolm & Emanuel Waddell, Morehouse College Matt Summers, Bates College
2016 Morehouse College Drew Latimer & Jeremy Chen, Tufts University Dhruva Bhat & Danny DeBois, Harvard University; Evan Lynyak & Henry Zhang, Yale University; Harry Elliott & Taahir Munshi, Stanford University Harry Elliott, Stanford University
2017 Regis University & University of Denver Archie Hall & Alex Wu, Harvard University David Slater & Elana Leone, Stanford University; Harry Elliot & Bobbi Leet, Stanford University; Daniel Stoyell & Rebecca Blair, Cornell University Zoë Seaman-Grant, Bates College
2018 Stanford University Vedant Bahl & Mars He, Harvard University Benjamin Muschol & Will Smith, Northeastern University; Harry Elliott & Bobbi Leet, Stanford University; William Arneson & Charlie Barton, Yale University Harry Elliott, Stanford University
2019 Clemson University Jenny Jiao & Salil Mitra, Duke University Aditya Dhar & Michel Nehme, Harvard University; Ko Lyn Cheang & Lorenzo Pinasco, Yale University; Harry Meadows & Abby Westberry, Bates College Ko Lyn Cheang, Yale University

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "USUDAHistory".
  2. ^ "USUDC 2019 Results".
  3. ^ "USUDA About".

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