International Humanitarian Law Topics/Tournament

This year’s Internal Humanitarian Law topics are the following:

• It is unethical to deploy autonomous weapons systems.
• Abolish the International Criminal Court.

There is one tournament on this topic, hosted by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union. It is scheduled for Sunday, March 1.

Social Justice Debate Topic/Tournaments

This year’s topic is The United States Federal Government should provide direct compensation to African-Americans who descended from slaves as reparations for slavery.

Tournaments using the format include George Washington University (November 2019) and Morehouse College (January 2020).

Congratulations to Helena Ong and Naomi Tilles for their outstanding performance at the US Air Force Academy’s British Parliamentary Debate Tournament, held September 21-22, 2019.

Helena and Naomi won the novice championship (an event for students in their first 12 months of intercollegiate debate competition, regardless of prior experience). Helena was also the top individual speaker in that division.

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



Request to be Added to the CCDU Mailing List

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, Healthy Eating Initiative, 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, 12:00-1:30 PM and by appointment

Oregon State Penitentiary Debates

The CCDU is one of 12 college debate programs to receive an invitation to the debate tournament at the Oregon State Penitentiary, October 5, 2019. This is a highly selective and competitive event. Zane Chung-Mehdi and Jonathan Miller will represent the CCDU at this year’s tournament.

If you are interested in judging (should be familiar with BP debating and likely to attend this tournament, if available, in the future), please contact John Meany,, by September 12.

Request Registration – Upcoming Early Fall 2019 Tournaments

To request registration, you may complete the registration forms available at the opening meetings for new and returning debaters on September 3 and September 10, Bauer Forum, CMC  (new to the Debate Union, 8:15 PM and returning debaters 9:00 PM). Registration for later events is rolling but there is a hard deadline for the September tournaments and the Morehouse tournament, October 4-5 – registration for these events closes on September 10.

All tournaments have a mix of experienced and novice contestants. Some events, however, have a much greater proportion of highly experienced debate teams. Students should have considerable proficiency to request registration for these events. On the current list, those tournaments include the Morehouse, Denver, and Vermont tournaments.

IMPORTANT!  Students must complete 2019-20 CCDU contact, participation, and travel documents before requesting registration.

Returning debaters and new debaters with substantial debate experience in any format, able to train in a fast-track for early fall competition may request register now for the following tournaments:

September 21-22 US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO (BP)
September 27-28 Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL (BP)
October 4-5 Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA (SJD)
October 5-6 San Diego State University, San Diego, CA (BP)
October 12-13 Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR (BP)
October 19-20 University of Denver, Denver, CO (BP)
October 26-27 Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA (SJD/BP)
November 2-3 University of Vermont, Burlington, VT (BP)
November 2-3 Dominican University, San Rafael, CA (BP)

New debaters with limited or no prior speech or debate experience may request registration for the following events:

October 5-6 San Diego State University, San Diego, CA (BP)
October 12-13 Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR (BP)
October 26-27 Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA (SJD/BP)
November 2-3 Dominican University, San Rafael, CA (BP)

Thank you, Panama Debate Workshop Staff

Led by Pastor Arroyo (CMC ’18), a Fulbright Scholar and English instructor at the University of David, high school teachers and students in Panama began training in PDP debating this year. Pastor sponsored workshops for hundreds of students in Spring 2019, leading to an English language debate competition in July.

CCDU members Trevor Christensen and Gonzalo Secaira traveled to Panama in August to assist in Spanish language workshops for more than 175 students and teachers. In September, the HSPDP-Panama will host 5 high school Spanish language debate tournaments throughout the country. The HSPDP-Panama champion and one other Panamanian team will represent the country at the HSPDP Championship in April 2020.

Thank you, CDLI Summer Interns

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. This year, there are 9 institute sessions, scheduled from June-September, for secondary school teachers and students. College students and alumni participated in 7 residential debate and professional communication workshops held at CMC from mid-June to early-August. More than 350 students attended the sessions. The final workshop is for Public Debate Program secondary school teachers, scheduled for the last weekend of September.

CCDU members from CMC, Pitzer, and Pomona participating in Summer 2019 included Sydney Baffour, Jonathan Miller, Trevor Christensen, Jaelin Kinney, Amari Huang, Zane Chung-Mehdi, and Maya Kurkhill. Debate Union alumni included Lauren Phillips (CMC ’13), Pastor Arroyo (CMC ’20), Timmy Song (CMC ’19), and Matthew Reale-Hatem (PO ’19).


THE CLAREMONT COLLEGES DEBATE UNION (CCDU), a 5-C program centered at Claremont McKenna College and including students from all of the Claremont undergraduate colleges, 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. There are more than 100 major events scheduled for 2019-20.

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.


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 25 of the past 28 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 2019-20, 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. The Debate Union will sponsor a Conference on Criminal Justice Reform in Spring 2020 and a Fall 2020 Conference on Electoral Reform.



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 35 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.

DSC00698In addition to national programs, the Debate Union sponsors the International Public Debate Program, the nation’s largest secondary school international debate program. The IPDP represents the US at major international debate events. Members of the Debate Union coach and judge at international competitions – high school students have been award winners at the Pan American, Eurasian, European, and China National debate championships.

The CCDU supports additional educational outreach initiatives in the US and abroad, including leadership communication, photojournalism, healthy eating, and civic engagement projects.


The Debate Union sponsors an international secondary school debate outreach program, the International Public Debate Program (IPDP). Students primarily debate in the World Schools Debate Championship format, which is used for many major international competitions.

Members of the Debate Union may assist coaching and judging students for international competitions and may accompany them to major events during the academic term and summer.

The CCDU is now preparing for WSDC-format tournaments at Cornell University and Simon Fraser University in October, as well as the Euro Championship in Croatia in December and Spring 2020 Pan American Debate Championship and China Schools Championship. If you are interested in learning the WSDC format and assisting as IPDP staff, please review dates for IPDP training or contact John Meany,

Congratulations to members of the Debate Union for fellowship and scholarship awards. This list is woefully incomplete. Please send your information to

Blake Plante PO ’19, Watson Fellow

Paloma Palmer CMC ’19, Boren Scholar with the National Security Education Program – Senegal

Pastor Arroyo CMC ’18, Fulbright Scholar (Panama)

Anoush Baghdassarian CMC ’17, Napier Award for Creative Leadership (Refugee/genocide victim narrative collection in Armenia)

Anoush Baghdassarian CMC ’17, Humanity in Action (Legacy of post-Holocaust human rights – Berlin)

Joshua Rooney CMC ’17, Boren Scholar with the National Security Education Program – Kazakhstan

Syed ‘Umar’ Farooq CMC ’17, Critical Language Scholarship, US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Jordan

Syed ‘Umar’ Farooq CMC ’17, 2016 Truman Scholar

Mariah Barber PO ’15, Fulbright Scholar (Brazil)

Nadeem Farooqi CMC ’15, Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs

Nicole Pilar PZ ’14, Fulbright Scholar (Bulgaria)

Takako Mino CMC ’11, Napier Award for Creative Leadership (Public Debate Program integration in 5 East African countries)

Holly Poole SCR ’09 and CMC MA ’11, Fulbright Scholar (Macau)

Jake Heller PZ ’07, 2006 Truman Scholar

Jesse Last PO ’07, 2006 Truman Scholar

Andrew Lee CMC ’07, 2006 Truman Scholar

Madeline Zavodny CMC ’92, 1990 Truman Scholar






All students enrolled in Speech 61 must practice weekly to maintain good standing in the course. In addition, debaters must complete 2 hours of weekly argumentation training and preparation. All debaters, regardless of registration for Speech 61, need to practice weekly, attend argumentation sessions, conduct sophisticated research, etc. to succeed in rigorous event competition. In general, active intercollegiate debaters should practice 3 times every 2 weeks to maintain sufficient practice for competition.

Weekly practices will be scheduled on Tuesdays/Wednesdays in Fall 2019. Each debater should reserve a regular slot in one or more practices. Additional scrimmage sessions and seminars will be scheduled.

Anyone may attend to observe practice.