Notre Dame Debate Team

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If you are interested in learning more about debate at Notre Dame,
please contact Dr. Susan Ohmer, Director of Debate at sohmer@nd.edu.

Who are we?

The Notre Dame Debate Team is comprised of students from the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College who are interested in the competitive activity of argumentation. We are a group of students who believe that our academic excellence, and Notre Dame college experience, are enhanced by our participation in challenging competitions. Whether or not you have ever competed in debate before, this activity has much to offer anyone interested in argument, politics, or current events.

What do we do?

The Notre Dame debate team competes in both Policy and Parliamentary debate. We travel to several national tournaments each year and have competed successfully against other prominent debate teams from around the country. Our tournaments have taken us to California, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Illinois, where we have met other college students who have an interest in this highest form of intellectual competition. The team has regular weekly meetings to prepare for debate at these events. A Notre Dame education is academically rigorous, and we believe that debate provides the perfect complement for our experience here--educationally, competitively, and socially.

Policy Debate

The Notre Dame debate program has recently formed a Policy Debate Team, thanks to the generous support of William T. and Helen Kuhn Carey. We belong to the NDT (National Debate Tournament), the most expansive competitive debate organization in the country. In forming this new aspect of our program, we are excited to become even more active in this most traditional form of debate. In policy debate one resolution is debated the entire year, and students spend the year researching and building cases related to this one topic. As a result of this intensive work, in-depth knowledge, research skills, and technical speaking proficiency develop very quickly for the policy debater.

If you have experience in policy debate in the past you are especially welcome to join us, but we also look forward to introducing beginners to policy debate.

Parliamentary Debate

Over the past several years, the Parliamentary Debate Team at Notre Dame has been active and successful. Regularly qualifying teams for national tournaments, we are very proud of our successes in ‘Parli’ competition. Parliamentary Debate is a team activity, with two people from the same school respectively comprising each side of the debate. In this form of debate, the ‘resolution’ (debate topic) changes round-by-round at each tournament. When each resolution is announced, teams have 15 minutes to prepare to either defend or negate the resolution. The round then proceeds with speakers taking turns making their case and countering the arguments of their opponents.

We look forward to even more successful seasons out on the Parliamentary Debate circuit!

How do you get more information?

For more information on the Notre Dame Debate Team, its activities, its goals, or how you might join, contact Dr. Susan Ohmer (sohmer@nd.edu), Director of Debate.