This past week, ten members of the Bard Debate Union travelled to Anchorage, Alaska for the US Universities Debating Championship, held at the University of Alaska. It took us nearly 32 hours to get to Anchorage as we found ourselves stranded in Denver, CO on Thursday night, but we made it and had an excellent weekend of debates! Senior Hanze Song and sophomore Eva-Marie Quinones came in just one point short of advancing to elimination rounds. Both coaches, David and Ruth, advanced to elimination rounds as judges. And all of our teams had phenomenal debates and learned so much. We especially want to congratulate our seniors – Hanze Song and Izzy – Filkins for completing their debate careers with the Bard Debate Union. We will miss them both dearly and hope they come back to visit soon. This concludes the 2014-2015 travel season for the Bard Debate Union and what a season it has been! Go Bard Debate!
On the weekend of March 28-29, 2015, eight members of the Bard Debate Union, together with coaches Ruth and David, headed to Hamilton, NY for the Colgate Open. We had never had the chance to attend this tournament in the past due to its often being scheduled during our Spring Break. However, we finally had the chance and we are so glad we went. As an “open” tournament – open not only to college and university students but anyone and everyone – the tournament was highly competitive and thus offered the opportunity for many very good debates. After 5 preliminary rounds, novice team of Adelina Colaku and Nathaniel Carlsen had 8 total team points which made them the 2nd ranked novice team of the tournament. They debated in novice finals on the topic “As an LGBTQ fiscal conservative, this house would vote democrat.” And after two very good speeches, they came in just short of champions. Excellent job, Nathaniel and Adelina. We are so happy to have you on our team. Great job to everyone who attended! Go bard Debate!
On Wednesday, 4 March 2015, the Bard Debate Union hosted a public debate on the topic, “Resolved: hate speech should be criminalized.” The questions that motivated our debate are: should there be limits to the freedom of speech? Or should the freedom of speech be protected at all costs, even when speech becomes violent, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.? Would a limitation on the freedom of speech in the United States necessarily be unconstitutional? The participants in the debate were Hanze Song and Antoinette Kane (representing the Proposition side) and Eva-Marie Quinones and Cole Rainey-Slavick (representing the Opposition side). Stephanie Presch was our moderator. It was a fabulous debate that drew a big audience and generated over 40 minutes of Q&A. Great job to Eva-Marie for organizing the debate and to all of the participants. Go Bard Debate!
On Friday, 27 February 2015, the Bard Debate Union hosted the 4th Annual Middle and High School Debate Tournament at Bard. We welcomed nearly 100 students and teachers from the Bard High School Early Colleges in Manhattan, Newark, Queens, and Cleveland, from the Red Hook and Rhinebeck High Schools, and from Red Hook Middle School and St. Joseph’s Middle School in Kingston. The students debated the topics of police brutality, national security and civil liberties, and the abolition of homework. In the end, we gave out awards to the top placing middle and high school teams and speakers. Everything ran perfectly on time and a great time was had by all. None of this would have been possible without the very hard work of the Bard Debaters – Anna, Eva-Marie, Stephanie, Shaya, Armaan, Hanze, Jackie, Antoinette, Izzy, Hasani, Cole, Bronte, Nathaniel, and Charlie. What an amazing day! We are already looking forward to the 5th Annual Tournament next year! Go Bard Debate!
It was a bit of a rocky (and by “rocky” we mean “snowy”) start to the Spring 2015 semester for the Bard Debate Union. For three weeks in a row, we faced blizzards and snow-storms on Monday nights preventing us from holding our weekly meetings. But finally in early February we got going! We opened our Spring 2015 tournament travel this past weekend (Feb 20-22) at the Regional Championships at Western Connecticut State University. And, again, it snowed. In fact, for the first time in Bard’s debate history, a tournament had to delay its Sunday start due to weather. But we persevered and had a great weekend. Eva-Marie and Hanze ended the tournament with 10 points, just 1 point shy of advancing to elimination rounds. And our teams of Izzy and Erind and Cole and Bronte put in a very strong showing. Special congrats to Bronte for debating at her first tournament! We also are hugely grateful for Stephanie coming along and judging (and congrats on judging the novice finals!). Thus, while we are all ready for spring, we are also really happy to be debating together again. Go Bard Debate!!!
On Friday, December 12, members of the Bard Debate Union gathered at coaches Ruth and David’s house to celebrate a wonderful Fall 2014 semester. There was delicious food, funny board games, a toasty fire, and a sparkling apple cider toast to celebrate a semester of great debates as well as Ruth’s recent completion of her PhD. We could not be happier about all of the new students who joined the team this year and the hard work and dedication that everyone showed this semester. Wishing you all a very happy winter break and looking forward to seeing everyone at the end of January!!! Go Bard Debate!!!
On Friday, October 24, Bard’s Family Weekend began. And, as always, the Bard Debate Union joined together with the Center for Civic Engagement to plan an event that would have appeal to visiting families and alumni. This year we decided to host a Faculty-Student Roundtable on the topic of “The US and ISIS.” Panel participants were: Professor Walter Russell Mead, the James Clarke Chace Processor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities; Professor Peter Rosenblum, Professor of International Law and Human Rights Law; and Bard College seniors and Bard Debate Union members, Stephanie Presch and Jesse Verven. And what an event it was! The room was packed; there were even people sitting on the floor. And the panelists all did an amazing job addressing this issue of pressing international concern. Go Bard Debate!
On October 7, 2014, the Bard Debate Union hosted West Point for our Third Annual Hannah Arendt Center Conference public debate. The Hannah Arendt Center Conference is an international conference held each year at Bard College that addresses a major topic in political theory. This year’s topic is American Exceptionalism; the title of the conference is: “The Unmaking of Americans: Are there still American values worth fighting for?” So we chose for a debate topic: “Resolved: individualism is an American value worth fighting for.” We organized the debate as two mixed teams of Bard and West Point, with both faculty members and students participating. And it turned out to be a truly phenomenal debate, with each speaker offering a thoughtful and intellectually rich approach to the question of individualism. Great job to Stephanie, Jackie, Andrejs, and Professor Berkowitz from Bard as well as our friends Aaron, Theo, Will, and Major Scher from West Point. What an event!
On the weekend of September 20-21, 2014, the Bard Debate Union hosted the inaugural Bard College Invitational. The weekend began, in fact, on September 19 when the Bard Debate Union at Eastern Correctional Facility hosted the University of Vermont for their second competitive debate at the prison for a debate on NATO. Bard was (again) pronounced victorious. Then on Saturday and Sunday, at our tournament in Annandale, we had 68 teams in attendance (136 debaters) and over 60 judges. Including the Bard participants, our tournament hosted well over 200 people. And everything went swimmingly. Our world-class adjudication team (Mary Nugent, Monica Ferris, and Ben Kornfeld) did an exceptional job selecting motions and judging debates, and our tab director (Steve Llano) ran the tournament like a pro! Topics included: the assigning of baby names, cap and trade Carbon, Aboriginal art, boycotting the NFL, Scottish independence, the criminalization of HIV transmission, enemy insurgent groups, and police brutality. Everything ran on time, even ahead of schedule. The food was amazing (Chipotle was a serious hit) and everyone was in good spirits throughout the weekend. The Bard debaters did an awesome job debating, judging, coaching, cleaning, etc. We could not have asked for a better first tournament and could not be more proud of everyone in the Bard Debate Union for pulling this off. Looks like this might have to become an annual event. We hope to see you there next year! Go Bard Debate!!!
The Bard Debate Union is very excited to call the 2014-2015 season to a start!!! Not only is our team bigger than ever but we also have many exciting events coming up! We had over 40 people attend both our Language & Thinking Information Session on August 25 as well as our First Debate Meeting of the Year on September 1. We are super excited to be hosting the Bard College Invitational on the weekend of September 20-21, 2014. This will serve as the season-opening tournament for British Parliamentary debate teams in the Eastern US. The Friday before the tournament (on September 19) the Bard Debate Union at Eastern NY Correctional Facility will also be hosting its second public debate, this time against the University of Vermont, on the topic of NATO, thanks to all of the hard work of coach, David Register. We also have a number of big tournaments lined up at Yale, HWS, Vermont, and Brandeis. We have two exciting public debates scheduled: our Hannah Arendt Center Conference Public Debate with West Point on the subject of American Exceptionalism (October 7) and our Family Weekend Faculty/Student Roundtable on the subject of the US and ISIS (October 24). And, finally, we are excited to get to work on all of our outreach programs in the Red Hook and Rhinebeck Schools as well as our research fellowships with the Bard Prison Initiative. It’s going to be a great year! One could even say (since we are now entering our 11th year) that it is going to be a great era – a whole new era for the Bard Debate Union!!! Go Bard Debate!!!