The Bard Debate Union was founded in 2004 after Bard student, Stephen Davis (class of ’05), together with his friend from Vassar College, Ruth Zisman, decided to attend and compete in several regional and national CEDA/NDT policy debate tournaments. The duo ended up winning the Novice National Championship and being named best new debaters in the country. Thus, upon recognition that Bard College was just filled with enthusiastic and passionate debaters like these, the Bard College administration, with particular support from Dean of International Studies, Jonathan Becker, quickly decided to found and sponsor a debate union, with Davis as their team captain and Zisman as the director of the program.
Since 2004 the Bard Debate Union has been competing on the regional and national debate circuits. Bard debaters are also continuing to have a big impact on campus and in the local community. “Bard students tend to be very successful in debate because they think outside of the box,” says Dean Jonathan Becker.
Among some of the honors the team has received, the team was named “Best New Program” by Columbia University in 2005 and “Program of the Year” by the Society Advocating More and Better Argumentation. The team has also accrued countless team and speaker awards at tournaments throughout the years. In 2007 Bard College was tied for 9th place in the country at the Cross Examination Debate Association National Championship and, in the same year, Bard College qualified for the National Debate Tournament (an elite national championship that invites only the top ranked teams in the country) for the first time in the college’s history. In 2008, at the team’s first WUDC tournament ever, Bard College won the tournament and was named 1st place!