2016, Brad Smith Debate Tournament

The 2016 Brad Smith Debate Tournament was hosted by the University of Rochester Debate Union, and was the Northeast season opener for Worlds Debate and the Northeast Novice season opener for Policy Debate. The tournament was held on Saturday, September 17th and Sunday, September 18th.

The tournament is named in honor of H. Brad Smith, a longtime and invaluable supporter of the University of Rochester Debate Union; both Brad and Jane Smith had joined us to help with judging and hosimg_8724pitality. The tournament was CEDA and SAMBA sanctioned.

The adjudication team for the 2016 Brad Smith Tournament was composed of many great debaters- the CAs were Bexley Brown and Josh Martin and the DCAs were Reefat Aziz, Sarah Hofmann, Miriam Kohn, and Chris Perkins.  URDU had selected three equity officers from a pool of immensely qualified candidates to uphold equity in the British Parli
amentary and Policy divisions of the tournament- Wahab Alhaji, a senior; Dan Lemire, a senior; and Ben Frazer, a junior and our squad’s Worlds Captain. The whole URDU family did a great job administrating the tournament, swing debating and volunteering!


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USU Nationals 2016

The USU Nationals tournament is the ultimate instance in which our precious World’s debaters are put to the test in order to push themselves to their limits in terms of knowledge of the world and debating ability. Eight of our debaters, six of them who participated in the open division, and two who have enrolled in the novice division, have undertaken the task of traveling all the way to Atlanta, Georgia so that they could compete and come out as better debaters. In the tournament, a very large number of teams registered, and there were actually thirty-two teams that broke out of the preliminaries. One of these thirty-two teams was the team consisting of Sarah Hofmann and Ben Frazer, who finished just below the top ten teams breaking. Both debaters also finished as octofinalists in the tournament, so we can at least say that the URDU left Atlanta with some success in their hands. The amount of knowledge our debaters have learned throughout debating was impressive as well; hearing different arguments and perspectives from different sides has allowed them to gather different sorts of information to further enrich their minds. Overall, not a bad experience, and the URDU is already looking forward to doing even better at the next USU Nationals tournament!

Some of the motions presented in this tournament were:

TH regrets the 24 hour news cycle

In large ethnically diverse societies, THW institute uniform secular civil codes

THBT Palestinian violence against Israeli civilian targets is justified


Some of our debaters are assembled…


Ben and Sarah compete in the octofinals!!!!


The URDU in USU!!!


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CEDA Nationals 2016

In this tough and unique Policy tournament, the URDU went to Binghamton once again so that they can compete in a much harder and challenging tournament compared to the Regionals tournament they went to earlier the previous month. In the spirit of the Easter weekend, the people that came to the tournament have both enjoyed and challenged themselves into making the most of the overall experience. The intense rounds that came around proved that the debaters had a fun and yet intense learning session during that weekend. Eventually, all those who came benefited from the experience, and Merkle was around to support the team as well! It was a relaxing, but mentally exhausting experience for those who came, especially for our coaches who decided to come along. At least we can all appreciate the fact that CEDA Nationals was held in nearby beautiful Binghamton!


Our debaters and coaches spending their time relaxing at a restaurant!!


Merkle decided to join in collecting Easter Eggs during the CEDA tournament!!!

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Pan American Universities Debating Championship 2016

On one fine March weekend, the URDU flew all the way to Jamaica in order to engage in one of the toughest tournaments ever faced, and they came out with great success in their hands! The warm weather and the Caribbean atmosphere were greatly felt, and the tournament itself served as a platform of knowledge and competition. Fortunately in this case, there was much of both factors: knowledge and competition, and everyone greatly benefited from them. The tropical atmosphere in Jamaica made up for much of the enjoyable experiences that our debaters took while sightseeing and taking photos of the island. We had Miriam Kohn and Chris Perkins finish as finalists, and we also had Reefat Aziz and Kate Zheng finish as the top and the 3rd best ESL speakers of the tournament respectively. Fascinating tournament all together and we hope that next year’s Pan-Am tournament can exceed this one in terms of enjoyment and success!

Some of the motions presented in this tournament were:

TH supports a coup d’etat in Venezuela

THW stop commemorating wars

THBT states should implement compulsory licensing of all patented essential medications

THW allow individuals to donate a significant portion of the taxes they owe to the state to charities or non-profit organizations.


Precious view of the sea..



Reefat and Miriam looking happy in Jamaica!!!


One of the motions about to be announced…


Miriam having fun with some company!


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Europe 2016: Budapest, Hungary and Rotterdam, Netherlands

Part 1: Budapest, Hungary

In a spectacular series of trips and tournaments, the URDU sent four curious, but intelligent debaters to, of all places, Europe! They’ve embarked on a journey that lasted nearly two weeks, and everyone has greatly benefited from the experience! They first went to Budapest, where everyone who went were amazed by the beauty of the city and the foreign Hungarian culture. The tournament at Central European University proved to be quite challenging and fun for everyone, and the variety of perspectives offered during the rounds made up interesting debates as well. Everyone appreciated the competitive European teams that took part in the tournament, and our debaters enjoyed from the uniqueness of the Budapest experience in general.

Some of the motions presented in this tournament were:

THW ban private political donations, and fund all political parties and campaigns from general taxation

THBT European leaders should not have agreed to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership

THBT it is legitimate to release the unpublished personal memoirs of deceased public figures, even when this is against the express wishes of the individual or their family

THW not allow workers to renounce their employment rights (e.g. holiday pay, defined working hours, sick pay, minimum wage) in return for work experience or financial benefit

Part 2: Rotterdam, Netherlands

After having competed in the Budapest tournament, our exhausted debaters took a few days off in order to appreciate and observe the beauty that was the city of Rotterdam. They’ve rested and had a great time exploring all around wherever they went. They even tried out some of the most unique foods they’ve seen in their lives, such as the dragon fruit! Eventually, as our debaters experienced the daunting task of changing hostels and carrying their bags in the streets, they were thinking about the challenging Rotterdam tournament ahead of them. When the tournament commenced, the adjustment of the time a speech is supposed to last  (5 minutes a speech) caught our debaters off guard, but they eventually did better than expected! The difficulty of the tournament could be definitely felt, and eventually, everyone learned something new and were proud of their overall performance. Courtney Otto was also the 5th best novice speaker in the tournament!!! It was a beautiful experience for everyone as Rotterdam became a fond memory once the tournament was over and it was time to go back home to the University of Rochester.

Some of the motions in this tournament were:

THW ban talk toys

THBT the US should require the NRA to pay reparations to victims of gun violence

THBT Egypt should conscript women to female only units

THW release inmates from jail solely on the basis of their rehabilitation and not upon the completion of a predetermined period of time

THW make the number of votes an individual has inversely proportional o their wealth(i.e. the more wealth an individual has the fewer votes in an election)


One of the fine buildings we saw net to the Central European University in Budapest.


Bexley judging a round in Budapest…


Debaters watching the final round of the Budapest tournament!!


Rotterdam from the view of our hostel sure is beautiful…


The view of Rotterdam from the top of a ferris wheel!


Our debaters all together during the Rotterdam tournament!!!


Our debaters listening to an announcement…


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Swarthmore College Regionals World’s Tournament

It was yet another tough World’s tournament that our fellow debaters have decided to go to, and it was another one that they all came out having learned something new. The tournament was a challenge for our fellow members of the URDU, and the magnificence of the art of debate was portrayed by the stiff competition presented there. The diversity of the motions presented in there created challenging debate rounds in which debaters and judges all benefited from the variety of perspectives, as well as the plethora of arguments presented for each side. Eventually, our teams all did well, and we are proud of Sarah Hofmann and Ben Frazer reaching semifinals later on! Great job for everyone too!

Some of the motions presented in this tournament were:

THW hold religious organizations liable for the outcome of faith healings

THR the use of the female body as a site of feminist protest (e.g. nude and topless protests, Slutwalk)

THBT free trade agreements should only be signed into law after being approved by referenda in the signatory countries

THW legalize the production and sale of opium in Afghanistan


Waiting for Round 1 to start…


The URDU looks on as they enjoy their food!


Ben and Sarah finish as semifinalists!!!!!

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Ithaca NAUDC World’s Tournament

In this very difficult tournament for our World’s team, the amount of learning and stress was quite strong. Those few who went have discovered that the experience was brutal, especially given the fact that the tournament consisted of many teams from the country. The trip may have been short to Ithaca, but the competition was stiff and tough. However, one of the fun parts of this tournament, besides witnessing the variety of teams participating in this difficult tournament, was seeing Sarah Hofmann, our World’s Captain, and her partner Ben Frazer nearly breaking into quarterfinals! Woo-hoo!

Some of the motions presented in this tournament were:

THB existing welfare programs should be replaced by unconditional cash transfers

THB political polling and major election analytics do more harm than good

THB the United States should impose substantial tariffs on Chinese goods until China ceases all currency manipulation

THW hold government officials criminally responsible for severe harm to citizens resulting from grossly negligent public policy


Round 6 is being announced…



Ben and Sarah finish to a well-fought 17th place in the Ithaca tournament!!!!




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