Debate team competes worldwide

The official University of Miami Debate Team is currently ranked 8th in the nation, according to the American Forensic Association and the National Debate Tournament.

“The debate is completely immersive and demands a lot of time and commitment,” said David Steinberg, director of the debate team. “Debate is divided into different skill levels. Most of our debaters are novices. Thankfully, college debate is set up in an effective way for learning, so the new people are not competing against the experts. In the rankings, a win is a win.”

The competitive debate program trains all year long on a topic and competes in tournaments 12 to 15 times a year with the goal of a National Championship.

The rankings are based on a point system, granting points to the top overall performing teams. The debate team competes against schools around the nation and globe.

“Last year, we went to Ireland and this year Ali, the vice president of the debate team, is going to Shehnai, India for the World’s University Debate Tournament,” Steinberg said.

UM will also host the Pan American Debate Tournament in January. The Pan American Tournament will be the first of its kind as schools from Latin America are sending their top debaters to compete at the university. Debates will be held in English and Spanish.

The debate team also attempts to serve and inspire students in less advantaged schools throughout the Miami-Dade school system through the Urban Debate League. The team’s project works to promote debate among high school students in urban areas.

During the summer, the team also hosted the Miami Debate Institute, where high school students came in to learn the fundamentals of debate. The team hoped to facilitate and give the students a chance to participate, as students who do debate are more likely to graduate, get better grades and get into college, according to junior Spencer George who has been in the club for two years.

“It’s one thing to be able to talk about changes we need to make and what we should do,” he said. “It’s an entirely different thing to go out and make a difference in the world.”

Any undergraduate student can join the team. Participation on the team can be taken for academic credit as part of the course COS 304, intercollegiate debate theory and practice. The credit can be taken up to eight times.

For more information, email Dave Steinberg at

November 20, 2013


David O'Connell

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