Ashley Park and Barbara Puodzius, members of the University of Miami Debate team, won the novice championship at the Georgia State University National College Debate Tournament held in Atlanta on September 21-23. 

The team is sponsored by the School of Communication and coached by David Steinberg, a senior lecturer at the SoC and the university’s director of debate.

Park and Puodzius, both students in the College of Arts and Sciences, defeated teams from Wake Forest, the University of West Georgia, Vanderbilt and the University of Louisville.

UM’s squad entered two novice teams and three junior varsity teams in the policy debate tournament, which was held under the auspices of the American Debate Association, the Cross Examination Debate Association and the National Debate Tournament.

In Atlanta, the five UM teams competed in six preliminary debates on the topic, “Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially increase statutory and/or judicial restrictions on the war powers authority of the president of the United States in one or more of the following areas: targeted killing, indefinite detention, offensive cyber operations or introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities.”

The UM Team of Valentina Valdez and Nate Nunez, also in the novice division, won four of six debates to advance into the award rounds as the sixth seed.  Valdez was recognized as the 10th place individual performer of the 58 novice debaters competing, and Nunez took seventh place.

 In the junior division, David Silverman and Spencer reached the quarterfinals; Ali Jessani and Ryden Butler advanced into the elimination debates.  Joe Karam and Ken Yu also competed for UM at the tournament.
The participating schools included New York University, University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida, University of Houston, University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.

The debaters began their research and argument preparation during the summer, Steinberg said. They also spent a week of intense preparation at a debate retreat in Davenport, Fla., before the start of school in August.   In addition to Steinberg, the debaters are coached by Patrick Waldinger, assistant director of debate, and by doctoral student Randall Martinez.

“This weekend was a great success for UM Debate, and for our new assistant director of debate, Patrick Waldinger,” Steinberg said.  “It is awesome to have him here.  His work and leadership, along with the dedication and talent of our students, made the win happen.”

The team will compete again at the University of Central Florida on Oct. 12th.  Later in the year, the team will travel to tournaments at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Participation in debate is open to all UM undergraduates.  Interested students should contact David Steinberg at