Mission and Rules

Mission Statement

The Bard Debate Union is a community of students, faculty, and staff committed to promoting civic discourse, dialogue, and debate on Bard’s campus, in the local community, and across Bard’s national and international networks.

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

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; nonetheless, all club members are expected to treat one another with respect at all times.

Team Membership

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. Meetings and Practice. Team members are expected to consistently attend 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 and Preparation. Team members are expected to read the news regularly and to conduct independent research to prepare for tournaments. Team members should also do practice speeches, speech re-do’s, and speaking drills 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.

Qualification for Tournament Travel

Qualification to participate in debate tournaments will be based on a 3-part rubric:
1. Participation in debate union activities (practices, research, and tournaments)
2. Service to the debate union (leadership, public debates, events, outreach projects, driving vans, etc.)
3. Competitive success
Where more students want to attend a given tournament than spaces available, the coaching staff will choose participants based upon their cumulative performance in each of the three categories above.

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 (briefings, awards, etc.), participate in ALL preliminary debates, and watch ALL elimination debates in which they are not participating. Team members should always consult with a coach before removing themselves from or leaving a tournament, missing a tournament event, etc.

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.

Audio/Video Recording Policy

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.