Rutgers-Newark debate
Higher Ed

Rutgers-Newark Debate Team to Host Championship Tournament

Rutgers University — Newark announced it will be hosting the 2022 North American Women and Gender Minorities Championship Tournament from Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. through Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. in the Essex Room at the Paul Robeson Campus Center.

Thirty-five teams from across the nation, including the Rutgers-Newark team, will be competing in the tournament, covering topics such as international relations, literature and technology. This would be the first time RU-N hosts this tournament, which was founded in the 1990s to provide a platform for women, who often face disparities in the debate world and have historically grappled with gender bias. It later evolved to include those who are gender nonconforming.

“Hosting the women’s championship is meaningful to me because it will be one of the first times I get to be in a competition with people who relate to me and share experiences without having to hide pieces of ourselves or our stories,” explains Temitope Ogundare, a member of the Rutgers-Newark team.

The Rutgers–Newark Debate Team, founded in 2008 and sponsored by the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) and the Office of the Chancellor, was chosen to host the event in part because of its track record of historic wins. Since 2014, it’s been ranked among the 20 best debate teams in the nation.

“It is an honor to host the tournament,” says Elijah Smith, Rutgers-Newark’s Director of Debate. “Debate is meaningful for so many people, and to have a chance to make space for women, for gender minorities, for people who don’t always feel included, is really what Rutgers-Newark does best.”

For over 20 years, RU-N has been one of the most diverse universities in the country and has been a pioneer in valuing diversity, equity and inclusion. Hosting the tournament is not only a way for the Rutgers-Newark team to support women and gender minorities throughout North America but its own members, too, said Smith.

“What this means is that our students are provided with a space where they can be their most authentic, where they can feel like Rutgers-Newark supports them, and that the debate team supports,” adds Smith. “This provides assurance for women and gender minorities on the team and on the larger campus that women are welcome in debate.”

The event will be held in in the British Parliamentary style, which emulates the way in which debates are held within the British Parliament: one side represents the “government,” which supports the motion (topic) while the other side, the “opposition,” negates it.

Debate team members are excited for the competition and have recounted their passion for debate as women and minorities in a space historically represented by men.“

“I do debate because I’ve always disliked limitations on my creativity, and debate allowed me a space to speak my mind without being silenced or confined,” says Ogundare. “It’s really about being in a community of people who understand me and my wildest ideas. I think that women should debate because it’s such an empowering activity, and only in debate have I seen the open ability to push back and have many support you as you grow into the person you wish to be.”

Team member Eboni Bugg also sees the art of debate as a way of contributing to Newark and the university. “Debate has opened my mind to critically think more and helps bring more of a history to Rutgers, even to Newark itself, and the hope that we get to be a part of that history is what means the most to me,” says Eboni Bugg, SPAA ‘24.

The winners of the North American competition will enter the prestigious round-robins at Hobart and William Smith, where approximately the top 16 teams in the world are invited to compete.

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