2020-21 Congratulations

Select Intercollegiate Tournaments

2020 US National Championship (re-scheduled to October 2021)

Congratulations to Helena Ong and Naomi Tilles for their outstanding performance at the 2020 National USWUDC Championship, sponsored this year by Hobart and William Smith Colleges, October 2-5, 2020. They were octafinalists at the tournament, ranking among many of the finest debaters in the world.

This year’s US Universities Debate Championship is the 2020 national tournament, suspended since April 2020 due to the pandemic. The tournament permits national and international undergraduate teams to compete. In addition, graduating seniors unable to compete at the Spring 2020 championship retained eligibility to attend this year’s event. More than 200 teams participated. Three Claremont teams attended the 2020 championship – Helena Ong and Naomi Tilles, Kristen Lu and Jessy Nesbit, and John Cho and Adarsh Srinivasan.

The US championship in the British Parliamentary format was established by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union and first hosted by CMC in 2005. The Debate Union held the first 3 championships before John Meany convinced schools to have a bid system for site selection and move the tournament to a new region annually. The Debate Union has placed in the top ten at the USUDC on a half dozen occasions, including first place and second place finishes.

Lewis and Clark Tournament

Congratulations to Sara Abassi and Kristen Lu for their outstanding performance at the Lewis and Clark Debate and Speech Invitational Tournament, October 9-11, 2020. They placed second at the tournament. This year’s Lewis and Clark event is one of the largest invitational tournaments in the country, with more than 77 colleges/universities from 27 states attending. Two Claremont teams entered the event – Sara Abassi and Kristen Lu and Justin Shen and Michele Tang.

University of Vermont

Congratulations to Jessy Nesbit and Maya Kurkhill for their exceptional performance at the University of Vermont Debate Tournament, November 6-8, 2020. They placed fifth at the tournament, losing in the semifinal round of debates. In addition to their team award, they both placed among the top individual speakers at the competition – Jessy was the 8th place speaker and Maya was 16th. This year’s University of Vermont event is one of the largest BP invitational tournaments in the country, with more than 90 teams representing 48 colleges/universities from more than 10 countries (Philippines, India, Belorussia, China, Jamaica, Canada, Palestine, Peru, Nepal, Pakistan) and 15 states attending (including highly competitive teams from Bates, Yale, Middlebury, Cornell, UCLA, and Wesleyan).

Social Justice Debates Western Championship Tournament

Congratulations to Michelle Ramirez for her outstanding individual performance at the Social Justice Debates Western US Championship Tournament, sponsored online by George Washington University, November 14-15, 2020. Michelle placed fifth at the tournament. The Claremont teams, Michelle Ramirez and Jasmine Perales and Trevor Christensen and Adarsh Srinivasan each missed a team award by a single decision in the preliminary debates. This year’s Social Justice Debates Western States Championship was one of the largest invitational tournaments of its format ever held in the country. It is the last Social Justice Debates competition before the national championship, which will be sponsored by Morehouse College on January 16-17, 2021. This year’s SJD topic is Social Justice Movements should make police abolition their top priority.

Seattle University

Congratulations to everyone for their extraordinary performances at the Seattle University Debate Tournament, December 5-6, 2020. Michele Tang and Justin Shen placed second at the tournament, losing in the final round. Adarsh Srinivasan and Nati Azmera finished fifth, losing in the semi-final round. In addition to their team awards, all four students placed among the top individual speakers at the competition – Adarsh was the 6th place speaker, Michele and Justin tied at 11th place, and Nati finished 19th. Michelle Ramirez and Jasmine Perales debated well, missing elimination rounds based on the result of their final preliminary debate. This year’s Seattle University event was the largest BP invitational tournament in the western states, with teams representing 14 states and 5 countries in attendance, including highly competitive teams from Cornell, UCLA, Columbia, Yale, British Columbia, Grinnell, and Wesleyan.

University of Utah

Congratulations to Michelle Tang and Justin Shen for their terrific performance at the University of Utah Debate Tournament, January 16-17, 2021, the opening competition of Spring 2021. Michele and Justin were the top novice team (first year in BP debating) at the competition and were semi-finalists in the open division at the tournament. In addition to their team awards, Justin was the 2nd place speaker and Michele was 3rd.

Select Professional Events


The Debate Union sponsored DebateWatches, including an election debate observation and subsequent town hall discussion. The discussions included evaluation of the moderator, issue agenda, and candidate performances. Separate DebateWatches were held for college, high school, and middle school audiences. Members of the Debate Union moderated discussions. The CCDU sponsored 12 debates for presidential and vice-presidential debates, as well as the debate between candidates for the US Senate from Georgia, from October-December. The Claremont Colleges Debate Union has sponsored DebateWatches for the last 5 presidential election cycles.

Public Showcase Debates

The CCDU held a series of public showcase debates, featuring opportunities for audiences to engage the debaters during a question and comment period in the middle of the debate, through heckling and Zoom reactions, and with an audience vote on the debate outcome. CCDU members moderated and debated in all events. The Debate Union held debates on the following topics – Abolish the Electoral College, The US should adopt compulsory voting for its general election, Presidential candidates should be required to play Jeopary!, Does unionization do more good than harm?, The minimum wage should be set at $15, and Trump’s second impeachment did more harm than good.  


The Debate Union, in collaboration with the Scripps Pre-law Society and the Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy, hosted a lecture on legal education and public interest law, featuring LA County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham. This was the opening of a series of presentations on legal practice and issues, which will continue in 2021-22.

Select Debate Outreach

Thank you to all current and former members of the Debate Union for their extraordinary volunteer support for the Middle School and High School Public Debate Program (PDP), the CCDU’s proprietary debate outreach initiatives. In addition to volunteering as tab staff and judges at events, Maya Kurkhill serves as national co-president of the High School Public Debate Program and Kimberlin Huang and Naomi Tilles have managed major online events and trained others as tabulation staff. Hundreds of thousands of PDP teachers and staff participate in class and competitive programming in more than 30 countries annually.

%d bloggers like this: