Parliamentary Debate Team


Parliamentary Debate is an intercollegiate 2-on-2 team competition, emphasizing argumentation and persuasion, not research. Debaters improve their extemporaneous public speaking skills, sense of humor, and knowledge of current events. Debaters are given a new resolution shortly before each round. The topics range from the serious to the slightly silly, from whether the European Union should lift sanctions on Austria, to whether Luke Skywalker should have joined the Dark Side of the Force.


Weekly Meetings

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays we hold practice in Carpenter Hall 201F from 7 - 8:30 p.m. We use these practices to host speakers, work on general debate skills, and hold practice debates. 

Away Tournaments
Nearly every weekend during Fall and Winter term, there is a debate tournament at a college in the Northeast. As long as there is interest in the tournament, we usually send at least 3 teams.
Dartmouth Invitational Tournament   
Dartmouth hosts an annual debate tournament during Spring. The 2016 tournament will be held April 8-9th. Although Dartmouth students are not allowed to compete in this tournament, it is a great time to expose yourself to the debate format. If you are interested in judging or helping to plan the tournament, please Blitz the parli account (<login to see email address>). No experience is needed; we will teach you everything.



Do I need to have debated in high school?

No prior experience is necessary! We have had a wide range of members, from high school national champions, to newcomers who were afraid of public speaking.

What about the time commitment?

We travel the Northeast to compete at other colleges (including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Brandeis, Boston University, Tufts, etc.), leaving on Friday, and returning usually on Saturday evening. Brief weekly meetings take place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 PM, in Carpenter Hall 201F. Practice rounds usually occur before each tournament. Being well versed in current events is helpful, but research is not necessary. You can go to as many or as few tournaments as you like.

What if I want to go to a lot of tournaments? What if I can't go very often?

Again, you can go to as many or as few tournaments as you like. This is not an activity where you have to wait a season to debate. We've had freshman go to as many as four or five tournaments in their freshman fall. But we've also had members who enjoy debating on campus but have waited until as late as March to compete (or have never done so). People who come to practice rounds and show enthusiasm generally get preference if there is a space crunch for a particular tournament (drivers also get preference because if space is limited it's often because we don't have enough college-approved drivers).

Parliamentary Debate

Parliamentary Debate is defined by the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) as: "A formal contest of reason, wit and rhetorical skill which simulates debate in a theoretical House of Parliament. Two teams, the Government and the Opposition, of two debaters each, consider a resolution proposed to the House. A different resolution is proposed each round. The debate is moderated by a Speaker of the House, who will also serve as judge for the round. In parliamentary debate, emphasis is placed on quick thinking, logical argumentation and analysis, an command of rhetoric over extensive research or collection of evidence. Accordingly, no recorded evidence or other outside written material may be consulted during the round."


If you have any questions, please e-mail

You can also e-mail any of our current executives:
President: Gracescenia Chahyadinata (
VP of Operations: Cindy Shen (
VP of Finance: Nikhil Ganjoo (
Novice Mentors: Manzi Bryan ( & Anoop Nanda (
Outreach Chair: Sahil Abbi (
Last updated on Oct 18 by Cindy L. Shen
contributors: Jesse L. Victoroff, Diana M. Pechter, Parliamentary Debate Team, Richard W. Dionne