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Debate Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What we are debating this year?

The 2019-2020 topic area will be released in June 2019, the specific wording will be released in July.

Will I have to pay for meals, filing materials, gas money, plane tickets, etc.?

All costs associated with travel for debate are covered by the team. ESU Debate provides its team members with money to pay for food on the road, and you will not have to pay for any accommodations.

Will being a debater take so much time that I won’t do well in school?

Definitely not. You are a student first. If a debater cannot come to practice or a tournament because they have a class function or they feel they are falling behind, then the coaching staff will accommodate them with no questions asked. We want you to graduate and go do incredible things in the world. Debate can help you in class, and long after you graduate, but class has to be the first priority. Additionally, the squad regularly has study hours as a team. Before big tournaments that will require a lot of preparation, students are expected to complete as much school work in advance as they can BEFORE we begin practices and work sessions (some of our debaters complete a month of school work in advance so that they can focus on practice and argument development). Moreover, you will find that the skills debate teaches you (e.g., logical reasoning, research, argument construction, critical thinking) will make your academic career much more fruitful. While we place a high premium on competitive excellence, ESU Debate measures its overall success by the professional accomplishments of its competitors during their time here and after. If you put forth the effort, ESU Debate will catapult you into a running-start at a successful life, never the other way around.

What type of resources does the ESU Debate team have at its disposal?

We provide stands, timers, and flow paper. The squad room has desktop computers and a printer, and all of its amenities are accessible to debaters 24/7 during the school year (as a debater, you get a “late pass” that allows you to study, work, or just hang out in the squad room any time of day or night). ESU Debate has two squad rooms (one for work, one for practice).

How big is the squad?

It varies from year to year but typically ranges from 4-10 debaters. That is about the average for most college debate squads.

What kinds of arguments does ESU run?

Whichever kind you would like to run. As a coaching staff, our philosophy is that you decide what kind of debater you want to be, and we’ll make you better at it. Identity and style is as important as anything else to winning so we encourage and nurture all approaches to debate.

So can I pick what I want to run?

As a debater, you must be creative and intellectually invested in the arguments that you run. Thus, we do not force you to run any particular set of arguments, and the coaching staff encourages creativity and innovation in debate arguments. We want to win, but your education and fun is also important. You pick what you want to run, the coaching staff will help you make it a winning argument.

I like the idea of debating for ESU, but I’m worried that law schools or graduate schools won’t look at a degree from ESU the same way they would a degree from other universities.

No. First, just because you’ve probably heard more about larger universities does not mean ESU cannot offer what they do. ESU graduates go to the best law schools, graduate schools, and achieve gainful employment just as much as graduates from any other university. ESU is a great school that is often underrated. Second, because ESU is a teaching-focused university, you get the benefit of small classes and lots of attention from full-time faculty rather than huge lecture halls and less-experienced graduate assistants. You will get to know outstanding scholars who can provide you with the sort of opportunities for additional engagement that you just can't get at research-focused institutions. Third, law schools and graduate schools do not discriminate against students from smaller universities. They know that there a lot of reasons a student might have gone to a smaller state university. They also know that the advantages of a small school may leave a student better prepared for graduate and professional study. What matters are your grades, letters of recommendation, application essays, and test scores, not necessarily the name at the top of your diploma. ESU graduates are doing great things in law school, graduate school, and all over the debate world.

Do debaters have to major in something specific or can they major in anything they want to?

Debaters can major in anything they want to. There is always a wide diversity of majors on the team.

Can anyone be a part of the team?

YES! ESU Debate has a walk-on policy, and no experience is necessary to be a part of the program. All you need is the desire to get better and patience with your skills development. Many great debaters at ESU and elsewhere have started with limited or no high school experience. If you are sitting in your dorm room right now wondering if debate is for you, come over to King Hall 210 and chat with some team members and coaches. We would love to have you over. No pressure, no long-term commitment necessary. Determine your own level of involvement and give debate a shot.

How many hours does it take?

The time commitment depends on what you want out of it. Many debaters work between 15-20 hours a week on debate, much like being on an athletic team. Many spend less than that, but if you want to compete at the national level, it will require a substantial time investment. If you want to compete regionally, the time investment is substantially less. As a whole, ESU Debate profits from all levels of competitive success, so we seek to foster all sorts of experience levels on the team.

Do I have to attend meeting and practices?

We have regularly scheduled meetings during the week. Many weekends have work sessions and practice rounds. These practices, however, can work around your schedule. Some students have semesters, for example, where they simply cannot make it to all the squad meeting times and those students simply make arrangements with teammates and coaches to practice at other times or make the most out of less time. You will never (and should never) miss a class because of a debate practice or meeting.

Are there any opportunities on the debate team to engage the community?

Absolutely. The debate team coordinates and sponsors events on campus designed to increase civic engagement and public discourse on a range of issues. We are currently planning public debates for the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters and members of the team who are less interested or less able to participate in travel are welcome to focus primarily on our public debates.

OK, how do I know if I am right for the debate team?

If you want to learn more than you do in class, if you want to work hard to be among the best at something, if competition and argument are two things you love, then we’re the right place for you! What is most essential is that you have a strong, competitive nature that you balance with a patient approach to your improvement. If you are willing to put in the time and get a little better every day, you can grow very quickly as a debater.

How do I join?

Contact Chris Loghry, Director of Debate, at or come by King Hall 210A where the director's office is located. Feel free to talk to debaters or professors if you need help finding us.