The Debate Union is 5-C program, open to any interested undergraduate
One of the largest and most successful college debate programs in the world
No prior debate or speech experience is required; About half the members of the Debate Union have had no previous experience


Topic: CCDU Meetings
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 892 8601 7753
Passcode: 7A1zGV

To Receive Info or Join – Request to be Added to the CCDU Mailing List – Email John Meany

John Meany, Director of Forensics,

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, 12:00-2:00 PM, online, by appointment

Congratulations on the Lewis and Clark Tournament!

Congratulations toSara Abassi and Kristen Lu for their outstanding performance at the recent Lewis and Clark Debate and Speech Invitational Tournament, October 9-11, 2020. They placed second at the tournament.

This year’sLewis and Clark event is one of the largest invitational tournaments in the country, with more than 77 colleges/universities from 27 states attending. Two Claremont teams entered the event – Sara Abassi and Kristen Lu and Justin Shen and Michele Tang.

Meetings/Practices – Week of October 12

Meetings and practices are scheduled for new and prospective member so the Debate Union, as well as for returning students. 

Zoom Link for Meetings

Topic: CCDU Meetings
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 892 8601 7753
Passcode: 7A1zGV

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, October 13
4:30-5:20 PM – Debate Union Argumentation Session – Critiquing
8-10 PM – BP Practice (open to any student)

Wednesday, October 14
4:30-5:20 – Debate Union Argumentation Session – Generics
6:15-8 PM – BP Debate practice (open to any student)

Thursday, October 15
Approximately 7:30-8:30 PM – Biden Town Hall Watch – Discussion after this evening’s Biden Town Hall – All welcome

To Join:
Topic: Biden Town Hall Watch
Join Zoom Meeting
815 4369 6343

Friday, October 16 – CCDU Seminar
12-1:25 PM – Intro for New Debaters – Information about the Debate Union, Introduction to BP Debating
1:30-2:20 PM – Debate Union Argumentation Session – Generics
2:30-3:30 PM – Debate Union Argumentation Session – Case Construction, POIs
3:30-4:30 PM – PDP Judge Certification (for educational outreach)



Congratulations on USUDC Tournament!

Congratulations to Helena Ong and Naomi Tilles for their outstanding performance at the recent national championship sponsored by Hobart and William Smith Colleges, October 2-5, 2020. They were octafinalists at the tournament, ranking among many of the finest debaters in the world.

This year’s US Universities Debate Championship is the 2020 national tournament, suspended since April 2020 due to the pandemic. The tournament permits national and international undergraduate teams to compete. In addition, graduating seniors unable to compete at the Spring 2020 championship retained eligibility to attend this year’s event. More than 200 teams participated. There will be another championship in Spring 2021. Three Claremont teams attended the 2020 championship – Helena Ong and Naomi Tilles, Kristen Lu and Jessy Nesbit, and John Cho and Adarsh Srinivasan.

The US championship in the British Parliamentary format was established by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union and first hosted by CMC in 2005. The Debate Union held the first 3 championships before John Meany convinced schools to have a bid system for site selection and move the tournament to a new region annually. The Debate Union has placed in the top ten at the USUDC on a half dozen occasions, including first place and second place finishes.

Presidential DebateWatch – Thursday, October 15

The Debate Union will sponsor a Presidential DebateWatch (if a second presidential debate will be held). Guests should observe this evening’s inaugural presidential debate from 6:00-7:30 PM. At the conclusion of the debate, please immediately sign on to the Zoom link. A member of the Debate Union will host a moderated discussion on the debate process, moderator effectiveness, and candidate/national issues and performances.

The debate is scheduled 6:00-7:30 PM.

The post-debate discussion is scheduled 7:30-8:30 PM.

The Zoom link will be announced by October 11.

The discussion moderator will provide a link to a post-debate survey for all those interested. It will only take 1-2 minutes to complete the survey.

The Claremont Colleges Debate Union has sponsored DebateWatches fo the last 5 presidential election cycles. The Debate Union is hosting college and educational outreach high school debatewatches for the 4 presidential and vice-presidential debates this fall.

Public Debate – Compulsory Voting in US Elections, Sunday, November 1

Please promote and attend a public debate on the following topic, The United States should adopt compulsory voting for general elections, on Sunday, November 1, 2:00 PM.

The debate will be held online. Check here after October 27 for Zoom access.

Register for Upcoming Events!

Register as a team (2-person) or as an individual debater or judge for tournaments. Public events doing not require advanced registration.
Registration for October events prior to October 20 will end on Wednesday, Seotember 30, 12 PM.


October 3-5 – USUDC – Hobart & Wm. Smith Colleges, BP, Registration closed
October 10-11 – Lewis and Clark College, BP – Senior and Junior Divisions, Registration until October 1, 3:00 PM
October 17-18 – University of Vermont, SJD, Registration until October 1, 3:00 PM
October 23-25 – St. Stephen’s College – India. BP, Registration until October 12, 3:00 PM
October 24-25 – Loyola University – Chicago, BP, Registration until October 12, 3:00 PM
November 6-8 – University of Vermont, BP, Registration open
November 7 – LA BP Tournament, BP, Registration open
November 14-15 – Host TBD – Social Justice Fall Championship, SJD, Registration open
November 20-21 – Host TBD – Canadian BP Championship, BP, Registration open
November 21 – University of North Georgia, Novice only, BP, Registration open
December 5-6 – Seattle University, BP, Registration open
January 16-17 – SJD National Championship, Morehouse College, SJD, Registration open
January 30-31 – Vanderbilt University, BP, Registration open
February 5-6 – International Humanitarian Law Debates, SJD format, Registration open

No registration required for discussion participants or observers for the following events, unless otherwise noted.
Registration is open for moderators and debaters.

September 29 – Presidential DebateWatch (Moderator registration closed)
October 4 – Showcase Public Debate – Abolish the Electoral College. (Moderator and debate registration closed)
October 7 – Vice-Presidential DebateWatch (Moderator registration closed)
October 15 – Presidential DebateWatch (Moderator registration open)
October 22 – Presidential DebateWatch (Moderator registration closed)
November 1 – Showcase Public Debate – The US should adopt compulsory voting for general elections. (Moderator and debate registration open)

New to the Debate Union? What to Do Next!

For those new to the Debate Union, here are some recommendations about how to get involved. Programming, including training, is rolling and there will be additional opportunities for training and there will be newly announced events. Please complete roster information for the fall term. The link is available online.

Interested in Intercollegiate Debating?

Attend the format introductions for British Parliamentary (BP) debating and/or Social Justice/International Humanitarian Law/Lafayette (SJD/IHL) format – the latter is a single format with different labels depending on the topic issues.

• Organize to attend a weekly practice, either Tuesdays, 8-10 PM or Wednesdays, 6-8 PM. Please contact one of the interns to schedule your time. Practice begins the week of September 7.

• Organize to attend the weekly CCDU argumentation session, Tuesdays, 4:30-5:20 PM (beginning September 15) and Wednesday/Friday repeat sessions.

• To fast track, please attend the CCDU Seminar noon Friday, October 2.

• When available, register to participate at debate tournaments. One may do so as an individual, with a team partner, or as a judge (training will provided and BP judges do not have to be highly experienced – can be new to the format).

Interested in Professional Communication Events?

Register to participate as a moderator or debate participant for one or more of the following events. There will be a training for DebateWatch moderators, as well as preparation sessions and practice for those participating in the public debate on abolition pf the Electoral College. Please register with a note to one of the CCDU interns.

Attend the Presidential DebateWatch, Tuesday, September 29.
Watch the debate and then go to the Zoom link for the post-debate discussion.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 971 1953 9572

One tap mobile
+16699006833,,97119539572# US (San Jose)

Interested in Educational Outreach?

Attend a PDP judge certification session. Certified judges are eligible to judge at Public Debate Program competitions.


Zoom Link for Debate Union meetings. practices, etc.

For all CCDU meetings, practices, etc.

Topic: CCDU Meetings
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 892 8601 7753
Passcode: 7A1zGV


To join the Debate Union, please submit your contact information at the following site:


Edward Tufte, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within
(2nd Edition, 32-page pamphlet, $7, paperback,


Edward Tufte, Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions
(32-page pamphlet, $7, paperback,

Additional review and information on Tufte

Edward Tufte is an expert in the field of information design. A professor emeritus of political science, statistics, computer science, and art at Yale University, his texts offer a pointed criticism of popular methods of graphic illustrations (e.g., PowerPoint), as well as establish techniques for the effective use of statistical and related design. These texts will introduce readers to sophisticated approaches to data illustrations and design thinking.

Laurian Vega, ‘Tufte is Dead; Long Live Tufte’

Ann Jennings, ‘Jennings on Tufte, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative’


Roland Barthes, Mythologies
(New edition, $10, paperback,

Additional review and information on Barthes and Mythologies

Roland Barthes, French social and literary critic, influenced the development of semiotics, structuralism, literary theory, communication, and post-structuralism. He taught philosophy and social/cultural criticism at a number of French universities. Barthes emphasized the active role of the reader in the ‘production’ of a text – as he noted in Image–Music–Text in 1977, “the death of the author is the birth of the reader.”

Andrew Robinson, ‘An A to Z of Theory Roland Barthes’s Mythologies: A Critical Theory of Myths’

Marco Roth, ‘Roland Barthes: Myths We Don’t Outgrow’

Michael Robbins, ‘Revisiting Roland Barthes’ Mythologies’


John McPhee, Draft No. 4 – On the Writing Process
($10, paperback,

Additional review and information on McPhee

John McPhee, professor of journalism at Princeton University, is an author of more than 25 books and scores of essays (he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker for more than five decades), as well as a pioneer of creative non-fiction. A 4-time nominee and 1999 winner for the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-fiction, his books include a wide range of subjects, from travel and biography to the environment, aeronautics, and sports. Draft No. 4 features McPhee’s analysis of the writing process.

Sam Anderson, ‘The Mind of John McPhee’

Tyler Malone, ‘John McPhee: Seven Ways of Looking at a Writer’


There has been considerable secondary school outreach activity throughout the summer.

Summer Debate and Leadership Communication Institutes
The Debate Union is hosting a series of middle school and high school debate and leadership communication workshops. Due to Covid-19, this year’s workshops are operating exclusively online, the first time that the CCDU’s summer conferences have been offered online. More than 200 students have registered so far for the summer programs.

Secondary School Outreach Expansion
The Debate Union is expanding its debate class and contest programming in Summer 2020. John Meany will lead workshops for more than 200 teachers in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and California in August. Direct mail recruiting is underway to add new schools to more than a dozen currently operating Public Debate Program leagues in Southern California, as well as for PDP leagues across the United States. The Debate Union is establishing new virtual debate leagues and in-class school public speaking and argumentation instruction, as well as inviting schools to participate in virtual competitions outside of their extant leagues. For example, the CCDU will continue to promote high school debating in English and Spanish throughout Panama, as it welcomes Panamanian schools to participate in online debate tournaments in the United States.

High School Outreach International Debate Success
Sierra Canyon School (SCS), a member of the HSPDP, won the London Online Debate Challenge in June 2020. Two SCS teams participated in the competition. The individual teams were ranked 2nd and 6th and their cumulative success led to the first place result. The tournament used the British Parliamentary debate format, typically used for college debating but infrequently available for high school competitions. It is an impromptu debate model, with debates organized after only 15 minutes of preparation time from the topic announcement to the start of the first speech of the debate. PDP middle schools and high schools will be able to participate in upcoming online debate tournaments in the UK and other countries. The CCDU will help organize 2020-21 HSPDP outreach online tournaments for international schools.

New PDP Website and Tab Software
The Public Debate Program will have a new, unified website for its network of schools participating in middle school debate, high school debate, international high school debate, leadership and civic engagement projects, as well as professional communication events. In addition, the CCDU is producing a next generation of proprietary software for tournament tabulation. The software will offer a more flexible and stable option for tournament administrators. Both website and software should be ready by September 1.