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NYC Students are Top Middle School & High School Debaters in the Nation at the National Urban Debate League Championships at Georgetown University!

by Erik Fogel | Apr 21, 2019 |

national championships


This week we shout out our National Debate Champions at the National Association of Urban Debate League's National Championships at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C!  Over 20 city debate leagues from Los Angeles to New York City gathered at the national tournament. The top two policy debate teams from every city are invited.


Policy Debate is the nation's oldest and most rigorous debate event where debate rounds are up to 1 1/2 hours each and there is only one topic each year where students earn an equivalent of a master's degree on that topic. Every debate team researches, writes and advocates their own "policy" to an annual problem. Therefore, debaters must study, research and write defensive and offensive arguments on hundreds of different policy proposals. This year's policy debate topic is: "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States."  Debaters throughout the year have debated nearly every single policy proposal on immigration reform including: Asylum Reform, Open Borders, Closed Borders, Border Walls, Abolish ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement), Student Visas, Climate Refugees, Dream Act, Detention Reform, Detention of Children Reform, Immigration Courts, VISA reform, Cyber Security, Domestic Violence, Family Separation, Farm Workers, Employment Visas, Skilled Workers, Gender Asylum, Religious Asylum, Human Trafficking, Travel Bans, Start Up Visas, Sudan Refugees, Syria Refugees, LGTBQ Immigration, H1-B Visa, and many many many, many, many, many, many, many more! You can see why students earn an equivalent of a master's degree on the annual topic.


And within each policy subject area - students have to research every single aspect of that policy - (a) the significance of the problem (Significance); (b) what the government is or is not doing about the problem (Inherency), (c) plans of action, (d) whether the proposed plan can or cannot solve the problem (Solvency), (e) the advantages and disadvantages of the team's plan (Advantages v. Disadvantages), (f) whether the team's plan is on topic or off topic (Topicality), (g) whether the plan is prone to any philosophical, linguistic or other criticisms (Critiques), (h) whether there are better alternative plans than the proposed policy option (Counterplans).   So each policy topic then multiples into dozens of additional areas of research.  And teams can already start preparing for next year's policy debate topic - Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States. Back in the day students would carry dolly carts filled with 5-10 bins of evidence of thousands of papers. Today, students still carry around tubs-o-ev but most files are stored digitally on computers. For videos about policy debate please check out our page: https://www.debate.nyc/policy-debate-resources

However, we digress! Back to the results of the National Urban Debate Championships of 2019.  There are over 20 citywide urban debate leagues across the country with the mission to make debate accessible to all!  Each year there is an annual championships tournament at the high school and middle school levels. The top two high school teams in every city receive full funding to attend the 3-4 Day Championships Tournament with their Coach at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. No better place for the national championships title than our nation's capital! 
The Results!  On the High School level, Brooklyn Technical High School and Leon Goldstein High School represented our league at the 2019 Urban Debate National Championship at Georgetown University. Shout out to Leon Goldstein's Malik Flemming and Allen Avrakh for representing the debate program's first appearance at the UDNC and ended with a respectable 3-3 record. Brooklyn Technical HS' Jeremy Santora and Samantha Rich continue the tradition of advancing to elimination rounds as they ended as Quarterfinalists (Top 8 in the nation). Samantha Rich was also 9th Speaker of the tournament. The NYCUDL has advanced teams into at least the round of 16 for seven consecutive years (2013-2019). Also, history has been made on the middle school level as John D. Wells Middle School 50 represented the NYCUDL in the inaugural Middle School Urban Debate National Championship for Policy Debate in Washington DC at Hardy Middle School. And in true NYCUDL fashion, MS 50 takes home big honors at the tournament. Middle School 50 managed to advance two teams to the Quarterfinals. Hanna Tavares and Shannelly Bianco were Quarterfinalists and both students won speaker awards (Shannelly won 10th Place Speaker; Hannah won 7th Place). The team of Kevin Ascencion and Kevin Imbert made it to the final four as they ended their run to the championship as Semifinalists. These young men were just 2 ballots short of making it to the championship debate. Amazing work from all of our schools and a big thank you to the coaches, parents, and volunteers that have helped make this past weekend a huge success. An amazing weekend for NYC Debate! And special shout outs to all the coaches of MS 50, Leon Goldstein HS, and Brooklyn Tech!  And final shout outs to NYCUDL Program Director Aubrey Semple for all his work, coaching and this blog post!
Thank you everyone for your support of debate in New York City!! - Erik
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