Debate team ranks seventh worldwide

  At the moment, the Lawrence Debate Union (LDU) may very well be UVM’s most successful team.   The UVM debate team is currently ranked seventh out of 500 colleges and universities that participated in 33 tournaments worldwide, the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) website stated.   In the top 10 rankings, LDU is placed behind Sydney Union, Monash, Yale, Cornell, Oxford Union and Cambridge. UVM is ahead of Colgate, the London School of Economics and McGill, according to the IDEA website.   “We’ve been fortunate enough to draw some of UVM’s best and brightest students to the debate team,” coach David Register said. “This kind of success would be impossible without the intelligent, dedicated and hardworking students who have committed themselves to the LDU.”   Register, one of three coaches for the debate team, said he had been with the program for six years and attributed this year’s success to a number of reasons.   These included the commitment of coach and director Dr. Albert Snider, spending the majority of the team’s resources on international competition and the leadership of coach Mary Nugent, who was brought in this year, Register said.   Nugent is the former director of debate at Cambridge Union and a final round adjudicator at the World Universities Debating Championship, he said.   Coach Snider said to University Communications that the structure of the debate program also deserves some credit.   “The secret has been that the nature of our program, being endowed by a wealthy alumni who graduated in 1901, provides for stability and a strong training system to make students the best they can be,” he said.   UVM has won the Northeast title five times in a row, has been in the semifinals at the U.S. championships and has made the late rounds at world championships, a University Communications press release stated.   Though the Lawrence Debate Union began in 1899, the program has only appeared on the international debate circuit since 2007, the press release stated.   The release also stated that UVM had made a dramatic jump in rankings the past three years, going from no. 280, to no. 135 and finishing at no. 39 last year.     The LDU has 30 active members who are divided into pairs for each tournament.   This November, some of the teams travelled to Oxford and Slovenia reaching the final rounds of tournament play, the Voice of Edwin, LDU’s online newsletter, stated.   Two teams, made up of partners Paul Gross and Drew Adamczyk and Jessica Bullock and John Sadek, competed in this year’s Oxford Intervarsity Tournament.   Gross and Adamczyk tied for no. 18 out of 252 in the five preliminary rounds, according to the Voice of Edwin.   Sarina Selleck and Rebecca White, another LDU pair, attended a five-day training program over Thanksgiving break in the Slovenian Alps, known as the International Debate Academy Slovenia, before participating in a 56-team tournament in the capital city Ljubljana.   Selleck said that she and her partner made it into the final tournament in Slovenia, and credits the success of the LDU to team camaraderie and the experienced LDU coaches.   “One of the strengths of the debate team is our ability to come together and work as a team, despite the fact that our competitions happen in pairs,” Selleck said. “We’re very much like a family.”   Up next, the LDU is sending three teams to the World Championships that will be taking place in Manila, Philippines over winter break.   Selleck was optimistic about the team’s performance in the upcoming trip to the Philippines.   “We have a decent chance of breaking into the elimination rounds,” she said.