THE CLAREMONT COLLEGES DEBATE UNION (CCDU), a 5-C program centered at Claremont McKenna College; it is among the largest and most successful college debating societies in the nation. The Debate Union offers three major debate and communication programs – intercollegiate competitive debating, professional communication training and events, and educational outreach. Programming is national and international. Students may participate in any or all programming.

Any undergraduate of the Claremont Colleges is eligible to participate in sponsored activities. No previous experienced is required – generally, about half of CCDU members have no prior speech or debate training. There is substantial staff and peer training available for all CCDU members.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly all initial 2021-22 events will be conducted online.


The CCDU participates in national and international debate competition in the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) format, also known as the British Parliamentary (BP) debate format. It is the most popular and among the more rigorous college debate models extant. The CCDU attends 30 or more tournaments each year. CCDU teams have won 5 national championships (varied formats) and placed second five times, ranked in the nation’s top ten in 24 of the past 29 years, and received many, many hundreds of team and individual awards at major national and international competitions. Students have won major awards at US national debate championships in the BP format, including first place in 2010 and second place in 2008. The CCDU established the BP US national debate championship, now the largest college championship debate event.

In addition to WUDC events, the Debate Union attends specialized competitions in select other formats, including Social Justice Debates, Lafayette Debates, International Humanitarian Law Debates, Society of Professional Journalists Debates, and Public Debate Program Debates. In 2021-22, the CCDU will participate in 8-10 tournaments in these additional formats.


The Debate Union has an unparalleled historical commitment promoting public debate and discussion on matters of controversy and concern. The CCDU sponsors scores of campus and community events each year, including debates, lectures, discussion panels, academic conferences, town hall meetings, broadcast productions, advocacy training seminars, international student/faculty exchanges, poetry slams, and other national and international community, interscholastic, and intercollegiate events. The Debate Union has designed and moderated candidate electoral discussions and debates in Southern California communities and provided training and support for campus public policy debates. The CCDU has received national awards from debate organizations and non-profit groups for its public debate and discussion activities. Student papers have been accepted for argumentation, education, democracy promotion, development studies, neuroscience, mathematics, security studies, and political science conferences in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Students have participated in public events, academic conferences, and workshops in Croatia, Slovakia, Korea, the United Kingdom, Uganda, China, Slovenia, Italy, Turkey, Nigeria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Tanzania, Hungary, Qatar, Peru, Russia, and the US. The CCDU held a 2016 Conference on Nuclear Policy; it will host a Conference on Electoral Reform in Spring 2022.
Among other 2021-22 events, the Debate Union will sponsor public affairs podcasts, a lecture series on legal practice and theory, a deliberative book club, an intra-collegiate public debate series – the Pentagonal Debates, a film club, and multiple civic/social engagement projects.



The Debate Union has extensive outreach programming and sponsors one of the nation’s largest class and contest debate and public speaking training programs for secondary school students – the Public Debate Program. Hundreds of thousands of middle and high school students, primarily representing socially and economically marginalized communities, receive instructional resources and participate in class and contest programs each year. The program operates throughout the US and in 37 other countries. College students produce text and video curricular materials, conduct educational research, direct instructional seminars for secondary school teachers and students, manage tournament operations, and judge at competitions. Public Debate Program development and event partners have included Asante Africa, English-Speaking Union of the United States, Tulane University Service Learning, NASA, and the Forum for African Women Educationalists. The Public Debate Program US middle school national debate championship is now the largest debate tournament competition in the country.

The CCDU supports additional educational outreach initiatives in the US and abroad, including leadership communication, photojournalism, healthy eating, and civic engagement projects. In 2021-22, the CCDU will launch a series of new events for students interested in extra-curricular activities directly promoting academic and career success.

Summer/Fall 2021 Contact

All listed times on this site are Pacific Time.

Zoom contact for all meetings:
Topic: CCDU Meetings – Summer/Fall 2021
Meeting ID: 873 673 7540
Passcode: CCDU2021

Congratulations, Seattle Debaters!

Congratulations to all 3 teams attending the Seattle University Debate Tournament, hosted online, December 4-5. At one of the largest tournaments in the US in 2021, Michele Tang and Justin Shen placed second at the event, their second consecutive final round and second place finish. After Justin was unable to continue due to illness, Michele debated on her own through the elimination rounds to earn the team’s award.

The other two teams also qualified for the open division elimination rounds, impressive performances for novice teams (and clearly the top novice teams at the competition). Alaina Neuburger and Alana Yang finished as quarter-finalists, an outstanding achievement at their second intercollegiate tournament. Audrey Strevey and Grayson Shaw qualified for elimination debates and won their quarter-final and semi-final debates, ultimately finishing as participating finalists for their performance in the last debate. Audrey has placed in the open final for 2 consecutive tournaments; Grayson earned his second individual speaker award at his second BP tournament.

Sixty undergraduate and graduate school teams from the US, UK, Africa, and India competed at this year’s event.

Meetings/Practices for Week of December 6

Here are the additions, updates for the upcoming week.

No practices. Take the extra time to complete academic work.

All  trainings are online.

Meeting ID: 873 673 7540
Passcode: CCDU2021

Week of December 6
9 Instruction – Intro to British Parliamentary (BP) Debating, 4:30-5:00 PM
9 Instruction – Writing a Case – BP, 5:00-5:30 PM
9 Instruction – Counterplanning, 5:30-6:00 PM
9 Instruction – Topic Categorization and Critiquing, 6:00-6:30 PM
9 Instruction – Generic Arguments and Research Briefing, 6:30-7:00 PM
9 Instruction – Intro?orientation to the Debate Union (for new debaters beginning in Spring 2022), 7:00-7:30 PM


Congratulations, Linfield Debaters!

Congratulations to Justin Shen and Michele Tang and Lina Kallel and Audrey Strevey for their outstanding performances at the Linfield College Debate Tournament, hosted online, November 13-14. Justin and Michele placed second at the tournament. Lina and Audrey were the top novice team at the competition and qualified for the open division elimination rounds. They qualified for the final round and ended as finalists at the event, placing in the top four teams at the tournament.


Congratulations, Loyola-Chicago Debaters!

Like the Point Loma tournament, the Claremont team attending the 2021 Loyola-Chicago Debate Tournament was new to British Parliamentary debate competition. And, like colleagues at Point Loma, they learned a great deal in serious competition with students from 5 states. They were close to qualifying for awards but, unfortunately, missed participating in the tournament Grand Final Debate. The one-day, online tournament was held on Saturday, October 23.

Two students attended the event – Alaina Neuburger and Alana Yang. Congratulations to both for opening this year’s midwest competitions.

Congratulations, Point Loma Debaters!

Although debaters were close to qualifying for awards at the first in-person competition for 2021-22, a highly competitive BP tournament sponsored by Point Loma University, October 23-24, no team did, in fact, win a team award at the event. Many of those participating, however, were at their first British Parliamentary format competition and first debate tournament – it was outstanding practice for all. The Claremont teams and judges were all ‘novice’ debaters and judges, meaning they were all in their first year of British Parliamentary intercollegiate debating.

Eleven students attended the event. Debaters included Sumi Vora, Devanshi Guglani, Max McKnight, Kenny Le, Sterling Drummond, Grayson Shaw, Xinyue Zhang and Jen Lim; judges included Mario Fuentes, Dana Villasenor, and Margo Cohen.

Congratulations, Lewis and Clark Debaters!

Congratulations to Stelring Drummond and Grayson Shaw for their outstanding performance at the Debate e Union’s first 2021-22 competition, hosted online by Lewis and Clark College, October 9-10. They won the tournament, defeating teams from Vanderbilt and Willamette in the British Parliamentary (BP) final.

Maya Kurkhill and Jessy Nesbit tied for the most first place finishes in their debates but, unfortunately, narrowly missed qualifying for the semi-finals on speaker points. Two teams – Sumi Vora and Fio Wibawa and Kenny Le and Max McKnight – had fine performances in their first BP competition.

The Debate union is now preparing for upcoming BP events hosted by Loyola University – Chicago, Point Loma University, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges as well as the first in-person Social Justice Debates tournament for the year, sponsored by the University of Vermont.

Debate Union Social Reception, Week of September 20

Come meet new and returning members of the Debate Union!

Event planning is underway – there will be a dessert reception and opportunity to meet other members, find prospective debate partners, learn about professional communication opportunities and outreach events from John Meany and CCDU interns.

The event will be held this week – Friday, September 24. 4:00-6:30 PM, mid-quad lawn by Crown Hall, CMC.

Debate Practice Times, Fall 2021

Although there are BP practices the week of September 20, the official start of formal practice at set times for the semester (times that should accommodate everyone’s schedule), begins the week of September 27. Those practices are at the following times:

Mondays, 3:00 PM and 4:45 PM
Tuesdays, 8:15 PM
Wednesdays, 4:45 PM and 6:30 PM

Practices for SJD events will be announced later this week. The official times next week may be the same as the scheduled times this week or 15 minutes later typo accommodate some later class periods.

You should have received a confirmation from Maya for your practice time. If you have not or have yet to schedule a practice time, please contact Maya at

New BP Tournament Listings

These are additions to the calendar. Most are available to all students. All except Point Loma University are online. Select events will only permit, at most, 1-2 teams from each institution. Tournaments available to all are marked. You may begin registering for tournaments at any time. Prior to registration, yo0u must complete requested membership information in the CCDU 2021-22 roster. Please send an email to any intern to add your name to request registration for a tournament. You will receive a reply about your ability to attend your requested events. The intern addresses are Maya Kurkhill,, Michelle Ramirez,, and Helena Ong,

New BP Tournaments, v. September 12, 2021
Tournaments available to all are noted in bold.

9-10 Lewis and Clark College
16-17 University of Toronto
23 Loyola-Chicago
23-24 Point Loma University, San Diego (in person, not open to all but will be available to a large number of teams)
5-7 Hobart and William Smith Colleges (may change the date from this weekend)
13-14 Linfield College
13-14 University of Cambridge
4-5 Seattle University
29-30 Vanderbilt (prefer in-person, if possible; not open to all but will be available to a large number of teams, even as an in-person event)

Social Justice Debates Topic 2021-22

This year’s topic for Social Justice Debates is

The adoption of a mandatory racial desegregation policy for K-12 public schools is desirable.

The first tournament will be held online, Saturday-Sunday, October 2-3. There is a tentatively planned in-person tournament scheduled at the University of Vermont, Saturday-Sunday, November 6-7.

Although 2021-22 topic statement, format, and other support information is not yet available, here is the link to the 2021-21 information. The format and rules ought to be identical – the topic is different but the social justice foundation of each topic is likely to be quite similar, adapted only for the working of the topic. The link:

Topic and debate preparation will begin the week of September 13. The schedule for meetings, research, practices will be listed here during the September 10-12 weekend.


Send an email to John Meany, Director of Forensics, indicating interest. Please use “Join the CCDU” as the email subject heading.

Complete the member forms located at

Done. You are in. Welcome!



Zoom Link:
Topic: CCDU Meetings – Summer/Fall 2021
Meeting ID: 873 673 7540
Passcode: CCDU2021

There are regularly scheduled training sessions for intercollegiate debating in the British Parliamentary, Social Justice/Lafayette/International Humanitarian Law/Society of Professional Journalists, and Public Debate Program formats, professional communication events support including conference and presentation programming, FirstReporters!, and Civics in Action programs, and national and international educational debate outreach in the Public Debate Program and World Schools formats. National and international opportunities are scheduled throughout the year, including summer and break events. The Debate Union pays all major costs of participation.

Debate Union Office – Bauer South 21, CMC
John Meany, Director of Forensics, Office Hours – Tu/Wed, 12-2 PM, in-person and online, by appointment