Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily M. Darrow
Newly formed debate team has received over 27 awards in just one season; Columbia University honored team as Best New Debate Program of the Year ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Bard Debate Team has been named Program of the Year by the Society Advocating More and Better Argumentation (SAMBA), one of two national organizations that govern college debate, and Best New Debate Program of the Year by Columbia University. “It is an unprecedented honor for the same school to win both awards,” says Jonathan Becker, faculty adviser for the debate team and dean of international studies at Bard. The idea for establishing a debate team at Bard came from Bard seniors Stephen Davis and Jonathan Helfgott, who realized that “Bard College was just filled with enthusiastic and passionate debaters and arguers, some of whom had debated competitively at both the high school and college levels,” according to Davis. Both Davis and Helfgott were experienced and successful debaters: during the spring 2004 semester, Davis—with his debate partner Ruth Zisman (Vassar College ’04)—won the Novice National Championship, while Helfgott had debated for years on the Marist team. Together they proposed the idea of establishing a debate team to the Bard administration, which eagerly embraced the idea, naming Becker the faculty adviser and hiring Zisman as director of debate. Andy Ellis is volunteer debate coach. The members of the 2004–05 Bard Debate Team are: Reanna Blackford; Jesse Crooks (who received the Trial by Fire award from SUNY Buffalo for debating in the varsity division at his first tournament); Jon Dame; Davis (captain); Kelly DeToy; Helfgott; Litta Naukushu; Brad Powles; Nathan Sweed (named third individual speaker from a field of over 100 of the best first- and second-year debaters in the country at JV/Novice National Tournament, Georgetown University); Noah Weston; Ravenna Wilson; and Blerina Xeneli. The 12 students on the team compete on both the regional and national circuits of the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and National Debate Tournament (NDT) policy debate. “We compete in all three divisions—novice, junior varsity, and varsity—debating the same topic all year long against schools from all over the country,” says Zisman. “This year we debate the following resolution: ‘Resolved: The United States federal government should establish an energy policy requiring a substantial reduction in the total nongovernmental consumption of fossil fuels in the United States.’ Each semester the team also hosts a series of public debates at Bard, and participates in and sponsors other events on campus.” To date the Bard Debate Team has received 27 awards. Zisman notes that out of five regional tournaments in which the team has competed, it has garnered the number one speaker in novice award three times. The team has never received fewer than two speaker awards and one team award in any of the tournaments in which it has competed. On January 28–29, 2006, Bard College will host its first debate tournament. For further information about the Bard Debate Team, call Ruth Zisman at 845-758-6822 extension 6144, e-mail, or visit # # # (3/15/05) [Editor’s Note: A digital image of the Bard Debate Team is available, e-mail or call 845-758-7512.]

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This event was last updated on 11-21-2005