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Who We Are

The Cornell Speech and Debate Program is the only university-sponsored speech and debate organization at Cornell. The organization is one of the largest of its kind in the United States, registering students for intercollegiate competition in:

  • Policy debate
  • Worlds (British Parliamentary) debate
  • Individual Speech events
  • Spanish Worlds debate

The program is distinctive because it is large, successful, and inclusive of all skill levels. Annual student membership typically exceeds 100 members. Students who compete in each format of speech or debate frequently make it to elimination rounds and bring speaker awards back to Ithaca, which has contributed to a consistently high national and international ranking for Cornell in each type of speech or debate.

Our organization is fortunate to receive funding from a variety of sources, including our alumni network and the ILR school. This funding allows the team to support a full team of coaches, all of whom have excelled in their respective formats at the collegiate level. Any Cornell undergraduate can join the team, regardless of their skill level, and coaches regularly coach completely new novices and top varsity competitors as part of the 'big tent' of Cornell Speech and Debate. 

Cornell Speech and Debate believes that the skills and experience that students gain from intercollegiate competition also prepares them to apply those skills in the overall campus intellectual community and in important social contexts. The list of CSD outreach is ever-evolving, but some past initiatives have included:

  • Public debates on community-relevant topics (past guests have included Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, representatives from PETA, the British National Debate Team, and cadets from the U.S. Military Academy)
  • Debate training and education for people in prison
  • Debate training and education for older adults
  • Debate partnerships with schools and organizations all over the world

For many of our members, this is not only a debate and speech organization but also a close-knit family. Regardless of whether you are new or old to Cornell, or simply looking around, we invite you to learn more about our program. Our program is open to all Cornell students regardless of previous experience or course of study.

Feel free to contact any of the coaching staff or members of the student leadership should you have any questions. The entire CSD program has weekly meetings during academic fall and spring semesters - attend a meeting or email a coach or eboard member for more information. 

Program Leadership

The Speech and Debate program at Cornell University is a co-curricular program boasting world-class faculty and staff with combined teaching and coaching experience of 60+ years. Along with graduate assistants (GAs) who serve as assistant coaches and enrolled in the ILR School graduate program, the Speech and Debate staff hold national and global achievements, and provide top-notch argumentation, debate, and persuasive communication instruction.

  • Senior Lecturer, ILR School
  • Director, Speech & Debate Programs

Sam Nelson is the Director of Speech & Debate and ILR school senior lecturer at Cornell University.

  • Assistant Director, Speech and Debate Programs
  • Director, Policy Debate
  • Director, Cornell International Summer Debate Camp
Armands has coached nationally ranked college and high school debate teams for over a decade, and was himself a competitor throughout college and high school. 

  • Assistant Director, Worlds Debate (BP)

Ibe has substantial experience in debates, coaching and event management.

  • Director, Spanish Worlds Debate

Júlia has been involved in competitive university debating since 2018, when she started her trajectory with the Cornell Speech & Debate Society (Spanish division) as an exchange student at ILR

  • Coach, Worlds Debate(BP), Policy

Seokho Daniel Yoon is the Founder and Secretary-General of Debate Korea and the Convenor of the Korea World Universities Debating Championships 2021.

  • Assistant Director, Speech and Debate Programs
  • Director, Speech

After assuming his position in February of 2022, MacLain continues to serve as the Director of Speech for the Cornell University Speech and Debate Program with great success.

Current e-board

Six Cornell students pose together outside
Cornell Speech and Debate has an annual election for undergraduate student leadership of the e-board for the Cornell Speech and Debate Society. The 2023 (April 2023 - April 2024)  eboard members are as follows:

President— Ben Shaw

Vice President External— Gaveal Fan

Vice President Internal— Piper Kohlenberger

Treasurer— Bally Warren

Secretary— Eva Egeghy

Diversity Director— Gabriel Muñoz

Contact Us

Email Us:

For general inquiries, e-mail

You may also directly email student officers or program staff (listed above) with more specific questions. For information specific to current Cornell students, visit the Join the Team page. 

Office/Mailing Address:

Cornell University
Speech and Debate
615b Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853 USA