Meetings/Practices for Weeks Sept 20/27 updated

Please review new sessions on the ‘Meetings/Practices for Aug/Sept 2021’ post on this site.

Debate Union Social Reception, Week of September 20

Come meet new and returning members of the Debate Union! Event planning’s 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 – on Friday or Saturday, September 24/25. Date, time, location will be announced by interns by Tuesday, September 21, 3:00 PM.

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.

New to the Debate Union? What to Do Next!

For those new to the Debate Union and after attending an orientation/information session, here are some recommendations about how to get involved. Programming, including training, is rolling and there will be additional opportunities for training. Most upcoming events are not yet scheduled by other institutions and will be announced the first week of September.

Please complete roster information for the fall term. Here is the link:

Interested in Intercollegiate Debating?

Attend the format introductions for British Parliamentary (BP) debating and/or Social Justice Debate formats.

Attend a weekly practice. CCDU interns will contact members to schedule your semester practice time. In general, you will select a Tuesday or Wednesday evening time for practice. A practice is 2 hours for a debate and feedback.

Attend CCDU argumentation/instruction and research sessions, Scheduled periodically and repeated several times during a 2-week period. Sessions focus on speaker responsibilities, argumentation, case writing, public speaking for debate, counterplanning, critiquing, topic interpretation and categorization, and more…

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 upcoming events There will be a training for moderators, as well as preparation sessions and practice for those participating in events beginning in mid-September.

Interested in Educational Outreach?

Attend a PDP judge certification session and tabulation administrator/tournament director session. Certified judges are eligible to judge at Public Debate Program competitions.


Thank you to members of the Debate Union and CCDU alumni for their outstanding instruction and administrative work during this summer’s Claremont Debate and Leadership Communication Institutes (CDLI). This year, there are 12 institute sessions and 4 tournaments, scheduled from June-September, for secondary school teachers and students. Programming included multiple teacher workshops, debate sessions for middle school and high school students, an academic scholars program for middle school students, and leadership communication training and an academic conference for high school students.

The final events for the summer include PDP online tournaments for middle school and high school summer students on the weekend of August 14-15 and Public Debate Program (PDP) California teacher and student workshop on September 11. In addition, high school students from the leadership program are invited to participate in a capstone project – a leadership initiative – at their school or in their community during the academic year. High school students may also attend a secondary school division of a Spring 2022 Conference on Electoral Reform.

CCDU members and alumni from CMC, Scripps, and Pitzer participated in Summer 2021 and included active CCDU members Maya Kurkhill (CMC ’23), Kayla Solomon (SCR ’24), Amari Huang (CMC ’23), Melanie Kallah (CMC’25), Ben Wasson (CMC’25), Sterling Drummond (PTZ’25), as well as former members Lauren Phillips (CMC ’13) and Pastor Arroyo (CMC ’20).


Select Intercollegiate Tournaments

2020 US National Championship (re-scheduled to October 2021)

Congratulations to Helena Ong and Naomi Tilles for their outstanding performance at the 2020 National USWUDC Championship, sponsored this year 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. 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.

Lewis and Clark Tournament

Congratulations to Sara Abassi and Kristen Lu for their outstanding performance at the Lewis and Clark Debate and Speech Invitational Tournament, October 9-11, 2020. They placed second at the tournament. This year’s Lewis 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.

University of Vermont

Congratulations to Jessy Nesbit and Maya Kurkhill for their exceptional performance at the University of Vermont Debate Tournament, November 6-8, 2020. They placed fifth at the tournament, losing in the semifinal round of debates. In addition to their team award, they both placed among the top individual speakers at the competition – Jessy was the 8th place speaker and Maya was 16th. This year’s University of Vermont event is one of the largest BP invitational tournaments in the country, with more than 90 teams representing 48 colleges/universities from more than 10 countries (Philippines, India, Belorussia, China, Jamaica, Canada, Palestine, Peru, Nepal, Pakistan) and 15 states attending (including highly competitive teams from Bates, Yale, Middlebury, Cornell, UCLA, and Wesleyan).

Social Justice Debates Western Championship Tournament

Congratulations to Michelle Ramirez for her outstanding individual performance at the Social Justice Debates Western US Championship Tournament, sponsored online by George Washington University, November 14-15, 2020. Michelle placed fifth at the tournament. The Claremont teams, Michelle Ramirez and Jasmine Perales and Trevor Christensen and Adarsh Srinivasan each missed a team award by a single decision in the preliminary debates. This year’s Social Justice Debates Western States Championship was one of the largest invitational tournaments of its format ever held in the country. It is the last Social Justice Debates competition before the national championship, which will be sponsored by Morehouse College on January 16-17, 2021. This year’s SJD topic is Social Justice Movements should make police abolition their top priority.

Seattle University

Congratulations to everyone for their extraordinary performances at the Seattle University Debate Tournament, December 5-6, 2020. Michele Tang and Justin Shen placed second at the tournament, losing in the final round. Adarsh Srinivasan and Nati Azmera finished fifth, losing in the semi-final round. In addition to their team awards, all four students placed among the top individual speakers at the competition – Adarsh was the 6th place speaker, Michele and Justin tied at 11th place, and Nati finished 19th. Michelle Ramirez and Jasmine Perales debated well, missing elimination rounds based on the result of their final preliminary debate. This year’s Seattle University event was the largest BP invitational tournament in the western states, with teams representing 14 states and 5 countries in attendance, including highly competitive teams from Cornell, UCLA, Columbia, Yale, British Columbia, Grinnell, and Wesleyan.

University of Utah

Congratulations to Michelle Tang and Justin Shen for their terrific performance at the University of Utah Debate Tournament, January 16-17, 2021, the opening competition of Spring 2021. Michele and Justin were the top novice team (first year in BP debating) at the competition and were semi-finalists in the open division at the tournament. In addition to their team awards, Justin was the 2nd place speaker and Michele was 3rd.

Select Professional Events


The Debate Union sponsored DebateWatches, including an election debate observation and subsequent town hall discussion. The discussions included evaluation of the moderator, issue agenda, and candidate performances. Separate DebateWatches were held for college, high school, and middle school audiences. Members of the Debate Union moderated discussions. The CCDU sponsored 12 debates for presidential and vice-presidential debates, as well as the debate between candidates for the US Senate from Georgia, from October-December. The Claremont Colleges Debate Union has sponsored DebateWatches for the last 5 presidential election cycles.

Public Showcase Debates

The CCDU held a series of public showcase debates, featuring opportunities for audiences to engage the debaters during a question and comment period in the middle of the debate, through heckling and Zoom reactions, and with an audience vote on the debate outcome. CCDU members moderated and debated in all events. The Debate Union held debates on the following topics – Abolish the Electoral College, The US should adopt compulsory voting for its general election, Presidential candidates should be required to play Jeopary!, Does unionization do more good than harm?, The minimum wage should be set at $15, and Trump’s second impeachment did more harm than good.  


The Debate Union, in collaboration with the Scripps Pre-law Society and the Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy, hosted a lecture on legal education and public interest law, featuring LA County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham. This was the opening of a series of presentations on legal practice and issues, which will continue in 2021-22.

Select Debate Outreach

Thank you to all current and former members of the Debate Union for their extraordinary volunteer support for the Middle School and High School Public Debate Program (PDP), the CCDU’s proprietary debate outreach initiatives. In addition to volunteering as tab staff and judges at events, Maya Kurkhill serves as national co-president of the High School Public Debate Program and Kimberlin Huang and Naomi Tilles have managed major online events and trained others as tabulation staff. Hundreds of thousands of PDP teachers and staff participate in class and competitive programming in more than 30 countries annually.