By David Steinberg & Patrick Waldinger

On November 5-8, the University of Miami Debate Team traveled to The University of Vermont in Burlington to compete in the Fall Championship of the Social Justice Debates. This was the first face to face competition for the UM Team since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down travel in March of 2020.

The team of Delphine Leoue Ngoko Djomo and Iman Sami won three of their four preliminary debates on the topic, “The adoption of a mandatory racial desegregation policy for K-12 public schools is desirable” to advance into the quarterfinal round, where they won the decision over students representing the United States Air Force Academy. They unfortunately lost in the semifinal debate against the eventual tournament champions from Morehouse College. Djomo was named the sixth best speaker in the tournament, and Sami was ninth place.

The University of Miami advanced past teams from Pepperdine, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Rochester, Appalachian State and other schools to secure third place. The Social Justice Debates are unique in that they are judged not by debate coaches, but by social justice activists, scholars, educators, and professionals who are content area experts. The competition is secondary to the learning dialogue which furthers understanding and, in tangible ways, may impact change and action.

UM will compete in the Final Social Justice Debate Championships at Morehouse in Atlanta in February 2022.

While Djomo and Sami were competing in the Social Justice Debates, members of the University of Miami Policy Debate Team competed virtually at the Liberty University Debate Tournament. This year’s policy debate topic is antitrust policy in the United States. The debate team of Jessica Axtman and Samaranjay Goyal reached the semifinals in the Junior Varsity division in their first ever college debate competition.

Goyal was the sixth overall individual speaker and Axtman 11th. In the Novice division, Jacob Rona partnered with a debater from the United States Naval Academy, amassing a 4-2 record in the preliminary rounds and reaching the quarterfinals. Rona was the 15th overall speaker out of 50 debaters. The debate team of Vivian Chen and Darrel Creary did well in their first tournament together. This was Creary’s first college debate tournament and it was Chen’s second.

The UM Policy Debate Team will compete this weekend, November 13-15, at the ADA Fall Championship hosted by the American Debate Association (ADA). Patrick Waldinger, UM Debate’s assistant director of debate, is the current vice president of the ADA. The UM Policy Debate Team will finish out their semester competing at the Wyoming Debate Tournament on December 3-5.

The UM Debate Team is a co-curricular activity sponsored by the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Communication. It is directed by Professors David Steinberg and Patrick Waldinger. Participation is open to all undergraduate students. For more information, contact Professor Steinberg at