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Worlds debate tournament competitors on the ILR campus, congregating in the great hall of Ives room number 305

News and History


Help us celebrate the success of our teams and members

Cornell Speech Wins Big at Ed Leonard Memorial Tournament

Speech qualified for nationals in 17 events during their first tournament.
Five speech competitors pose between rounds
Cornell Speech Wins Big at Ed Leonard Memorial Tournament

Worlds Captain Meg Kandarpa Wins Leadership Award

Meg Kandarpa recieved the Steven Penner Award in October, 2021 for her contributions to the high school and collegiate debate community.
Meg drinking from a watermelon
Worlds Captain Meg Kandarpa Wins Leadership Award

Policy Novices Compete at Wayne State

Mac and Kayla challenged themselves in the J.V. division while representing Cornell at the Wayne State Tournament.
Mac and Kayla pose outside Ives Hall
Policy Novices Compete at Wayne State

Competition History

The Cornell Speech and Debate Program had a successful 2020-2021 school year despite pandemic challenges. We entered competitors or hosted competition for a record number of tournaments during Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, taking advantage of increased opportunities for students to compete online. Below is a summary of individual teams: 

The Cornell Worlds Team competed in over 20 tournaments, with teams advancing to elimination rounds at over a dozen of them. We advanced to quarterfinals and beyond at the North American British Parliamentary Championships, the Princeton IV, the Yale IV, the Oxford IV, the USC IV, the 2020 United States Universities Championships, and the Tilburg Women and Gender Minorities IV. We also hosted the Novice National Championship online, where 80 teams from all over the United States and world competed.

The Cornell Policy Debate Team had teams reach semifinals at the Binghamton University tournament and novice debaters won the novice championship at Georgetown University. The 2020-2021 topic considered whether alliance commitments in international relations should be recalibrated. At the end of the season, the team wrote a topic proposal paper for 2021-2022 school in collaboration with the United States Naval Academy and Trinity University suggesting the policy community debate U.S. policies for mitigating income inequality in the United States. 

The Spanish Debate Team focused its efforts this year on recruiting new members and on expanding its international presence. The team competed in online tournaments and had members participate as Chief Adjudicators in tournaments in Panama and Peru. Cornell held the largest Spanish debate tournament in the history of the US with over 200 participants and over 100 registered teams. Together, the team was able to recruit one of the highest caliber adjudication teams of any tournament in recent memory along with an excellent support staff to oversee other aspects of the tournament. The team also expanded its social media presence to better foster and strengthen its connections with teams in Latin America and Spain.

The Cornell Speech Team had an impressive year that culminated in taking home 11th place in the nation at the National Forensics Association (NFA) national tournament. Speech took 48 individual speeches to NFA nationals, bringing home 5th place in the "Presidents I" division. The team achieved its goal of top 20 at both nationals, also taking home 18th in the nation at the American Forensics Association (AFA) national tournament in April. Notable achievements include national novice impromptu champion, national novice extemporaneous champion, and multiple national semifinalist placings. Speech won the New York-New Jersey state championship in February, defending its title. In just one year (during a pandemic!), the team more than doubled in size.