W&M Debate Society

The Team

William & Mary has maintained a successful debate program for many years. This past season, W&M finished the APDA regular season as the #11 team overall and was the #2 public university in the country and in past seasons the College has regularly been among the top-10 debate teams on the league.

With over 50 members, the William & Mary Debate Society is by-far the largest and most active Debate organization on campus. The team is composed from a broad range of academic years and majors from Math to Government, Computer Science to pre-Med and everything in-between.

There's no such thing as a "standard"-type of William & Mary Debater and our teammates include members of Club Sports teams, Monroe, Murray and Sharpe Scholars, sorority sisters and fraternity brothers, members of Student Government, Young Democrats and College Republicans, editors and writers for campus journals and publications, and a wide-variety of individuals active in all corners of campus life.

Style of Debate

The William & Mary Debate Society participates in tournaments throughout the country through the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA). Founded in 1981, APDA is a debate league with a membership of roughly 60 universities (including every member of the Ivy League, the University of Chicago and Stanford) that hosts weekly tournaments from September to April each year, culminating in an annual national championship featuring the best teams in the country.

Parliamentary Debate is a format of competition pitting two teams, each with two-members each, against each other. One team is slotted as the "Government" team (Gov) while the other becomes the "Opposition" team (Opp). The Gov team may start a debate by presenting a motion on any topic of their choosing; motions may be traditional such as "This House believes the United States should conduct airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities," historical such as "It is 1939. You are Adolf Hitler, and we believe you should refrain from invading Poland," or even whimsical: "You are the Rapper from the Kanye West song 'Blame Game," and we say you should honor your word and go out and shoot a bootlegger." After presenting the motion, the Opposition team will have time to ask questions of the topic before the teams engage in 6 alternating speeches with the Gov defending the proposition and the Opp advocating against it. For a full description of Parliamentary Debate, see APDA's rules here.