The University of Miami Debate Team began its year as we did last year, by winning the Novice Division Championship of the Intercollegiate Debate Tournament at Georgia State University, held September 20-22 in Atlanta.  UM entered four two-person teams in the policy debate tournament, held under the auspices of the American Debate Association, the Cross Examination Debate Association, and the National Debate Tournament.  Competition was divided into Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Novice Divisions based on experience of the debaters.  UM’s squad entered a novice team, two JV teams, and an open division team.  The tournament tough for the JV and Open teams, with the three combining for 7 wins against 13 losses.  However, the Novice team stole the show!

The UM Novice debate team of Melissa Cavell and Anna Shah won 4 of 6 preliminary debates to advance into the field of 16 as the 5th seed (34 teams were entered in the division).  After winning that debate on a 2-1 decision, they advanced through the elimination debates with three unanimous 3-0 decisions, beating Novice powerhouse Liberty University from Virginia in finals to claim the Tournament Championship.  Anna Shah was the 2nd place individual debater in the tournament (of 64 competitors), and Melissa was the 7th place speaker. 

The win was a squad effort, with Junior varsity debaters Barbara Puodzius, Anna Ivanova, Xingkai Liu, and Zac Cosner, and Varsity debaters David Silverman and Spencer George, as well as Coach Patrick Waldinger all working hard to help prepare Anna and Melissa for their award round wins.  During the tournament, UM won debates against James Madison University, University of Houston, Trinity of Texas, Liberty, Emory, Pepperdine, and Vanderbilt.  To win the novice division, UM competed in a field that also included Florida State and George Mason.  

The teams competed in six preliminary debates (8 for the Open debaters), lasting about 2 hours each during the grueling weekend.  Our championship team of Anna and Melissa spent more than 20 hours debating during the weekend.  All teams debate both sides of the year-long topic, “The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marijuana, prostitution, online gambling, the sale of human organs, physician assisted suicide.

The team is now preparing for upcoming tournaments at UCF, Kentucky, and Samford University as well as local public debates and events.  UM Debate is sponsored by the UM School of Communication, is coached by Director of Debate David Steinberg and Assistant Director Patrick Waldinger, and is assisted by Doctoral student Randall Martinez.  Participation is open to all UM Undergraduate students.  For more information contact Professor Steinberg at, and visit us online