Mission and Rules

Mission Statement:

The Bard Debate Union is a community of students, faculty, and staff committed to promoting the values of civic discourse, dialogue, and debate throughout the Bard College community, the greater Hudson Valley region of New York, and the world at large.

The Bard Debate Union represents a union of both a student club and a college-sponsored team. As a club, the BDU organizes meetings, workshops, and events on campus and in the local community. As a team, the BDU prepares for, attends, and participates in inter-collegiate debate competitions.

Club Membership/Meeting Expectations:

In compliance with college policy, all club-sponsored meetings, workshops, and events are open to all members of the Bard College community so long as said members abide by the code of conduct and general expectations of respect and decency as outlined in the Bard College Student Handbook (available here: http://www.bard.edu/dosa/handbook/). Debate can be, of its nature, a competitive and combative enterprise, but all club members are expected to treat one another with respect at all times.

As debate is a space in which students safely test and experiment with new ideas and positions, the audio/video recording of Bard Debate Union activities is strictly prohibited unless all people in attendance have given their permission to be recorded.

Team Membership/Tournament Travel Requirements:

Debate tournaments provide an excellent opportunity for BDU members to practice their public speaking skills, engage in healthy competition, and to discuss some of the most pressing issues of the day with students from other colleges and universities. All Bard students are welcome to join the team. That said, participation in college-sponsored team travel is a privilege and not a right. Those who wish to attend tournaments are expected to abide by the following guidelines:

1. Attendance and practice. Team members are expected to attend weekly Monday night debate meetings AND at least one practice debate per week. Team members with a course conflict at this time should make specific arrangements with the debate coaching staff.

2. Research. Team members are expected to read the news regularly and to conduct independent research to prepare for tournaments.

3. Confirming tournament participation. Team members must confirm their participation in a given tournament no later than the Monday prior to the tournament. Team members who cancel in the three days prior to the tournament jeopardize their eligibility to attend future tournaments.

4. Notification of faculty. Team members are expected to notify their professors in writing (and to speak to them in person) if they intend to miss class for a debate tournament or debate-sponsored event. Team members are encouraged to do this as early in the semester as possible in order to receive approval from faculty members and make appropriate arrangements for make-up work.

Ultimately, the determination as to whether students qualify to participate in college-sponsored team travel rests with the debate coaching staff. Qualification to participate in select national and international tournaments will be based on participation in team activities (practices, research, and tournaments), service to the team (public debates, events, and outreach projects), and competitive success.

Behavior at Tournaments:

Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a respectful and responsible manner at all times and to abide by all rules and regulations of the Bard College Student Handbook. Students who fail to do so place themselves at risk of suspension from team participation.

Team members are expected to attend ALL tournament events (opening ceremonies, awards ceremonies, and all debate rounds) unless they receive explicit permission from a coach indicating otherwise. Students are expected to attend and watch ALL debates in which they are not participating (elimination rounds).

Bard students are NOT permitted to fund/transport themselves to debate tournaments and represent the Bard Debate Union without consulting the coaching staff and receiving explicit permission from the College. This is not only an issue of liability but of fairness; all Bard students should have equal opportunity to attend tournaments regardless of personal financial privilege.

Academic Standards:

Debate is an educational activity but can be time consuming and should not take away from students’ coursework. Students interested in participating in debate events and traveling to debate tournaments are expected to be in good academic standing. Students on academic probation or returning from a mandatory leave of absence or dismissal will not be permitted to travel to debate tournaments; such students will also be monitored throughout the course of the semester in question to assure that academic progress is being made. All questions about debate and academic standards should be directed to Co-Director, Ruth Zisman, and/or Dean of Studies, David Shein.