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Duquesne Debating Society

The Duquesne Debating Society is a student organization housed within the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies. The society's advisor (Sarah M. Flinko, Visiting Instructor), president (Mary Halyama, Corporate Communication Major), assistant coaches (Blake Plavchak and Mallory Helbling, Ph.D. students) and senior debate consultant (John J. Rief, Ph.D.) along with other volunteer coaches and student leadership, coordinate a number of activities open to all Duquesne undergraduate students.

The mission of the Duquesne Debating Society is to promote the practice of debate as a mode of deliberation, dialogue, and interpersonal discovery. We root this mission in the Catholic intellectual tradition. This tradition inspires us to pursue ethical insight while promoting social justice as we work to enhance opportunities for debate education and participation throughout the Duquesne University community.

We offer multiple opportunities for participation including:

  • On and off campus public debates with local, regional, national, and international participants: During the Fall 2015 semester, we hosted iDebate Rwanda (a group of students and coaches based in Rwanda and travelling the U.S.) and the CIDD British Tour (composed of two debaters from Great Britain), planning and implementing two on-campus and several off campus events.
  • Competitive Debate Tournaments (NEDA and other formats): Duquesne is currently a member of the National Educational Debate Association (NEDA), an organization that hosts a number of competitive tournaments (2 versus 2 format). We travel to between 5 and 6 of these tournaments annually. We also attend public debate tournaments that provide opportunities for international travel and/or monetary awards to the top competitors and/or their institutions.
  • The society covers all transportation, room, and food costs associated with participation on the team.

We welcome students at every level of debate experience (from none to extensive) and are especially excited to increase the involvement of communication majors in our activities. The Department offers a debate course for those interested in intellectual and/or practical skills development related to debate and the Catholic intellectual tradition. We do not expect members to participate in all of the events we host and the debate course is not a requirement for participation. Members choose their level of participation in collaboration with the coaching staff.

If you are interested in joining the team or just learning a bit more about what we do, please email Sarah M. Flinko, Visiting Instructor at flinkos@duq.edu or call at 412-396-6436.