University of Miami School of Communication is hosting the third annual ACC Debate Championship Tournament April 1-2, 2017.

As part of the ACC Academic Consortium, the ACC Debate Championship Tournament sets the 15 member schools of the ACC against each other in a fierce academic debate. This year’s topic is Resolved, that the United States Electoral College should be abolished.

University of Miami was encouraged to submit a bid to host this year’s ACCAC debate tournament by David G. Brown, ACCAC coordinator and Wake Forest provost emeritus. David Steinberg, senior lecturer and director of the University of Miami Debate Team, submitted the bid on behalf of UM.

“The ACCAC selected us based on my own and Patrick Waldinger’s experience as directors of debate, hosts of many events, and our willingness to stay true to the concept of the tournament to make it accessible, public, and engaging for as wide an audience as possible,” says Steinberg.

Waldinger is a lecturer in the School of Communication and the assistant director of UM’s debate team. Steinberg has organized and run more than 200 tournaments and debate events.

Nine universities have confirmed attendance, including Wake Forest. Since the tournament’s inception three years ago, University of Miami’s Debate Team has lost in the final round to the team from Wake Forest. Last year, two senior parliamentary debaters from UM, Renee Reneau and Michael Fuentes, debated against two policy debaters from Wake Forest in a stiff competition for the championship trophy.

“It was a close debate, but we lost. The other debate teams are all outstanding, so who knows if either Wake or UM will advance again. It’ll be fun to see if we can finally prevail, but to do so, we will have to win debates over some excellent competition,” says Steinberg.

In addition to Wake and UM, the other confirmed participants are Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Tech, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The University of Notre Dame, and The University of Pittsburgh.

For the tournament, each university sends one team of two undergraduate students. Each debate sets the team from one university against the team from another university in an organized format designed to encourage a public-audience style debate. Judges evaluate the delivery, argumentation, and clash in the debate, and declare a winner with each debate lasting about an hour. The debate format is based on the Lafayette Debates, a hybrid between intercollegiate policy and parliamentary formats.

“We use the Lafayette format which is kind of like policy debate, but with shorter uninterrupted speeches and longer periods of direct interaction. Cross-examination periods challenge the debaters to think on their feet while asking and answering questions about the topic. For an audience cross-ex is more fun and exciting to listen to than long speeches,” says Steinberg.

Each team competes in at least four preliminary debates, with a winner selected and each individual speaker awarded points on a 30-point scale. The team with the most wins from the Atlantic Division (Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Wake Forest) will debate the team with the most wins from the Coastal Division (Duke, Georgia Tech, UM, UNC, and Pitt) in a final round to determine the ACC champion. The winner keeps the traveling Championship Trophy for the subsequent year. 

“The ACC is wise to recognize that the benefits of the conference go beyond sports, and to put some of the resources that sports generate back into a number of academic programs, including the ACC InVenture Prize innovation competition, ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference, the ACC Student Leadership Symposium, and the ACC Debate Championship,” says Steinberg. 

The ACC Debate Tournament takes place April 1-2 at University of Miami School of Communication. Faculty, staff, students, and the public are invited to attend. Select debates, including the final round, will be live-streamed. For a full schedule of events, please visit For more information, contact David L. Steinberg at