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!!!
On Friday, May 16, 2014 the Bard Debate Union gathered at coaches Ruth and David’s house to celebrate the close to another successful year of debate and to celebrate the conclusion of 10 years as a program! We also had the bittersweet opportunity to congratulate and bid farewell to two seniors, Lee Gensler and Annie Cockrell. We wish Lee and Annie the best in their futures beyond Bard and look forward to having them visit us soon. Hard to believe the Bard Debate Union is 10 years old. What a 10 years it has been. Here is to 10 more! Go Bard Debate!
Three Bard Debate Union members were the recipients of awards at Sunday night’s Undergraduate Awards Banquet – an annual awards ceremony to recognize academic achievement and community service. First year Jackie Merrill was the recipient of the Heinz and Elizabeth Bertelsmann Award for Excellence in Political Science. Junior Shaya French was the recipient of the Charlotte F. Michos Award for Excellence in the Sciences. And, finally, Junior Anna Daniszewski was the recipient of the college-wide Heinrich Bluecher Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and Community Service. What an impressive group of passionate and hard-working students. Go Bard Debate!!!
Ten members of the Bard Debate Union travelled to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana for the US Universities Debating Championships on the weekend of April 11-13, 2014. There were 180 teams in attendance at the tournament making for a very competitive weekend. But Bard team of Lee and Armaan pulled it out, earning 12 total points and breaking into the Octa-final round, ending the tournament tied for 17th place. Our other three teams also all put in valiant efforts, earning 8, 8, and 9 points respectively. Congrats also to David for breaking as a judge and judging the final round and to Ruth for helping out on the tab team. Special congrats and thanks to our graduating senior Lee for completing her 4-year debate career with style, grace, and a remarkable amount of competitive success! We will miss you, Lee! This concludes our 2013-2014 competitive season and our 10th year as a program. Go Bard Debate!
On Friday, April 4, the recently founded Bard Debate Union branch at Eastern NY Correctional Facility hosted its first competitive intercollegiate debate (and the only recent intercollegiate debate in a prison that we have been able to identify). The Bard Debate Union @ Eastern welcomed the award winning West Point Debate Team for a debate and discussion on the topic, “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase support for the construction of a national high-speed rail network.” The debate occurred in front of an audience of over 50 people, including faculty and staff from Bard and West Point, Eastern NY Correctional Facility staff, BPI administrators, and nearly 40 Bard students based at Eastern. After thoughtful and passionate debate that centered on issues related to the environment, the economy, and equality, the guest judges, West Point Debate Coach and Political Studies Instructor Major Adam Scher, Bard Professor of Philosophy Daniel Berthold, and Bard Vice President and Dean for Civic Engagement Jonathan Becker, sided (after a long deliberation) with the Bard triumvirate of Rodney Spivey, Darryl Robinson, and Paul Clue who were negating the resolution. This debate represented the culmination of a month of research and preparation for the Bard students as well as a year of debate training and practice for the team, which was founded in Summer 2013 under the leadership of David Register. Congratulations are in order to all of the participants in the debate, both very game cadets and the winning Eastern side. Many thanks to BPI administrators (particularly Megan Callaghan and Bob Tynes) for their help in organizing this event and supporting the idea of prison debate, Maj. Scher who is a credit to West Point, and especially to BPI faculty member and Bard debate coach David Register, who has been working tirelessly with the Eastern debaters all year long and without whom none of this would be possible. Special thanks as well to the staff of Eastern NY Correctional Facility who were extremely cordial hosts. Our hope is that this is the first of what will be many debates for the Bard Debate Union @ Eastern.