The Cornell Speech and Debate Society, comprised of the Worlds Debate Team, the Policy Debate Team and the Speech Team, has had an exceptionally successful year, according to ILR Senior Lecturer Sam Nelson, director of the teams.
Cornell debaters have been in the finals of seven regional and national worlds-style debate tournaments this academic year, as well as in the elimination rounds of several international tournaments in Canada and England.
In addition, the team of Jennifer Kim ’16 and En Ting Lee A&S ’17 won the North American Women’s Debating Championships, held in Canada.
Cornell also had four teams make it to the elimination rounds of both the Harthouse International Invitational in Toronto and the U.S. National Championships in Atlanta, breaking more teams at both competitions than any other school.
The national championships began with nearly 200 teams, and by the end of the tournament, Cornell had two teams in the top eight. The teams were Justin Ying A&S ’16 and Dan Stoyell ENG ’18, and Adnan Muttalib A&S ’16 and En Ting Lee A&S ’17.
Cornell’s Policy Debate Team is currently the third ranked team in the United States, according to the Cross Examination Debate Association, the largest intercollegiate policy debate association in the United States.
Cornell closed out the varsity finals at the Rochester policy tournament with the teams of Lauren Luciani Eng ’18 and Nicholas Tilmes A&S ’19, and Gabriella Knight ’18 and Shohini Kundu A&S ’17 both advancing from semifinals.
Luciani and Tilmes also won the junior varsity division of the West Point policy tournament, while Lauren Kelly ’18 and Andrew Kim ’19 were quarterfinalists.
Big Red’s Speech Team participated in 11 events, and team members have been ranked in the top 10 in almost every event. At the New York/New Jersey State Championship, the Speech Team won the championship in the categories of Impromptu, Duo and Dramatic Interpretation and was crowned the Overall Team Sweepstakes Champion.
The Speech and Debate Society also hosts the largest freshmen-only debate tournament on the East Coast and prioritizes inclusivity and novice development. This year’s freshmen class has displayed remarkable amounts of talent and drive, which bodes well for the team’s future competitive success, Nelson said.
Freshmen from the Policy Debate team have regularly advanced to novice elimination rounds, winning or coming close to winning the novice divisions of multiple policy tournaments in the region. They have also received speaker awards at almost every tournament they attended.
At the West Point Military Academy Policy Tournament, Shara Safer PAM ’19 and Tony Zhou A&S ’19 won the novice division, not dropping a single vote through their rounds, and were also the first and second place speakers.
Cornell freshmen have been in the novice final of almost every worlds-style tournament the team has attended this year. The team of Emma Rose Wirshing ENG ’19 and Myra Gupta ENG ’19 has also won two of the four novice finals that were held this semester.
Some of the freshmen debaters on the world’s team have even advanced to varsity elimination rounds, defeating varsity debaters from other schools. Brittany Garcia ’19 was the top-ranked novice speaker, as well as the fourth ranked varsity speaker and a varsity finalist at a regional tournament.
On the speech team, Brianna Mims ’19and Niyyah Barber ’19 made finals at their first collegiate tournament, in the categories Dramatic Interpretation and Prose Interpretation, respectively. Mims also qualified for nationals.