Claremont Colleges Debate Union Earns National Championship Title

The Claremont Colleges Debate Union has won the top overall award at the recent National Championship Tournament of the National Parliamentary Debate Association. The tournament, held in Denver, was the largest intercollegiate debate event ever held in the United States. Five of the eight team members are CMC students: Brendan Behan ’03, Aaron Ehrlich ’03, Daniel Rosengard ’04, Daniel Pawson ’03, and Jennifer Bindel ’04. Completing the team are Adrienne Hall ’02 and Kathryn Auerbach ’02, Scripps, and Brian Jackson ’05, Pomona.

The Claremont Colleges team earned the top honor, the National Championship Tournament Sweepstakes Award, in a field of 284 debate teams from 93 colleges and universities, placing ahead of the University of Notre Dame and last year’s champion, the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to the overall national championships, each of the entering debate teams won individual awards at the tournament.

Director of Forensics John Meany said the liberal arts setting is ideal for competitive debate. “Students who are interested in public argument, politics, and serious philosophical discussion — the kind of students who are intrigued by attending a small liberal arts college and engaging in serious and sophisticated discussion — are precisely the students who are drawn to debate,” Meany said.

Sample topics included: Open Societies Require Open Borders; Separation of Church and State is Sinful; Violence in Defense of the Earth is Justified; and U.S. Patriotism is no Better Than Islamic Fundamentalism. With only 15 minutes to prepare prior to debates, team members benefit from knowledge of current events and public policy, something that “CMC students are particularly good at,” Meany said.

Debate training involves significant public affairs research, weekly meetings on debate and argumentation theory and practice, comprehensive day and weekend seminars each month, weekly practice speeches and debates, and regular invitational tournament competition.

This is the eighth consecutive year that members of the Debate Union have ranked among the top 20 in the nation at the national championship. And where is the team this weekend? At Cal State Fullerton, competing in the national championships of the other leading debate organization, the Cross-Examination Debate Association.