Team FAQs

Participation and Format

Question: How can I join the team?
Answer: Review our website, then complete the Join the Team online form to be contacted by a member of the coaching staff. The UT Dallas Debate Team is open to any enrolled undergraduate at UT Dallas who meets basic academic benchmarks. However, travel to intercollegiate tournaments is reserved for debaters who are familiar with cross examination debate, who attend weekly team meetings, who engage in practice sessions and who contribute to team projects. To learn more about becoming a UT Dallas debater, visit Join the Team.

Question: I’m an active debater in high school who plans to enroll at UT Dallas. When should I apply to join the team?
Answer: An experienced high school debater may contact UT Dallas Debate at any point to express his or her interest in joining the team, but early in the fall semester usually is the best time. Those in their senior year may also wish arrange for a campus visit. The coaching staff can assist in making such arrangements if contacted in advance. Those who intend to matriculate to UT Dallas should contact the coaching staff during the summer in order to learn about the annual debate topic.

Those who are already undergraduate students at UT Dallas may contact the coaching staff via the Join the Team online form prior to the beginning of the fall semester to learn about how to join the team.

Question: I am currently a graduate student at UT Dallas. May I join the team?
Answer: Unfortunately, no. The UT Dallas team participates only in NDT/CEDA style intercollegiate debate, which is open only to undergraduates. Any student with an undergraduate degree is not eligible.

Question: Are there try-outs when joining the UT Dallas Debate Team?
Answer: No, the team does not have try-outs, and we do not engage in cuts.

Question: Do you offer scholarships for members of the debate team?
Answer: Yes. See the debate scholarships page for information about debate-specific awards. See the University’s scholarships page for information about the many scholarships available at UT Dallas.

For information about other forms of financial aid, visit the website of the UT Dallas Financial Aid Office.

Question: I am concerned that college debate is too intense. Can I manage to be involved in debate while maintaining good grades and a social life?
Answer: Yes! Many current and former members of the UT Dallas debate team are proof that it is possible.
For those with interest in intercollegiate debate, the team at UT Dallas offers exceptional opportunities to grow, advance and excel. Each student finds his or her own level of involvement in debate.

The coaches of the UT Dallas Debate Team acknowledge that each student’s top priority should be his or her own academic achievement, and they fully support team members’ academic success. It is possible for students to find the time and energy to excel in the classroom and at tournaments. The most passionate and dedicated college debaters at UT Dallas (and elsewhere) are often the same people with the best grades. In fact, many debaters find that the research, the discussions, the travel and the friendships that stem from their involvement in debate actually help them to become better students with better research skills, better communication skills and an array of colleagues from across the country.

Question: How diverse is the UT Dallas squad?
Answer: The UT Dallas Debate Team welcomes undergraduate students from all backgrounds. We encourage students to participate in our community and to build new friendships that cross many traditional boundaries. The student body at UT Dallas is multifaceted, and our team composition has reflected this diversity. Visit the Join Our Team section to find out how to become a part of UT Dallas Debate.

Question: I participated in Lincoln-Douglas debate and speech events in high school but I never did cross examination debate. Can I still join the team?
Answer: Yes! While cross examination (CX) debate has its own style and its own lexicon, the skills developed in other types of debate can help to prepare a student to achieve in CX debate as well. Many debaters who have eventually found great success in intercollegiate CX debate arrived in college with a background solely in non-CX formats.

The UT Dallas Debate coaching staff will work one-on-one with you to help you learn the intricate details and strategies behind cross examination debate. Intercollegiate CX debate is not indecipherable. Those who develop a passion for it can do well if they apply themselves, no matter what their background.

Question: Is the team more policy or more critical in argument selection? Are there any types of limitations on arguments?
Answer: The coaching staff encourages students to explore many types of arguments and the coaches work with each member of the team to assist in achieving personal and team goals. In our experience, the most successful debaters are those who develop the skills and the knowledge to engage in all arguments across the entire spectrum.

While debaters might have their own preferences, they quickly discover that the nature of intercollegiate debate tournaments compels debaters to refute a variety of arguments from a diverse selection of opponents. The UT Dallas coaching staff has the background to prepare our debaters for all types of arguments. Indeed, most of our teams run a variety of arguments and adapt their selection based on the opponent and the competition in each individual round. Our team of Andrew Baker and Brian Rubaie were voted the most flexible team in the 2010 Cross Examination Debate Association Debaters Choice Awards.

Question: I’m interested in joining the team. What associated expenses should I expect to incur?
Answer: UT Dallas Debate covers nearly all expenses associated with team travel and participation, including meals, office supplies, entry fees, rental vehicles, hotel lodging, airline tickets, etc. Students should expect to encounter almost no expenses in the course of their participation with the team; however, each debater needs a laptop computer in order to prepare for and engage in debates under the team’s new paperless system.

The team provides small net books for use at tournaments as viewing computers.


Question: How frequently do members of the UT Dallas Debate Team travel?
Answer: Travel will vary for each two-person team. Tournaments begin in late September and run until late March. Typically, our top partnerships travel 5-7 weekends during each semester. Other teams may travel 2-3 weekends. Each student’s level of involvement is an individual decision. Those who put more time and energy into debate can earn more travel opportunities. Some students choose to travel less.

The coaches firmly believe a student’s top priority should be his or her academic obligations. Debate workloads and travel schedules are adjusted to each student’s academic requirements. If a student shows signs of academic difficulty, travel opportunities for that student may be reduced. However, UT Dallas debaters have tended to excel academically, to find time to participate in campus activities and to enjoy semester breaks with family and friends.

Question: Are there limitations on amount of travel available to freshmen debaters?
Answer: No, the UT Dallas debate does not impose any type of travel restrictions on incoming first year students. Incoming debaters who demonstrated dedication, skill, and talent in CX debate at the high school level may begin to travel immediately on the national circuit during their first semester of college debate. In fact, some exceptionally talented debaters have traveled extensively during their first year on the squad. Sara Stephens, Brian Rubaie and Andrew Baker all traveled to national circuit tournaments during the first year and all qualified for the NDT during that first season.

The debate program does impose one rule on debaters during the first semester on the team: New students are prohibited from judging at any high school tournament. While it can be alluring to earn a few extra dollars judging at local high school tournaments, the time and energy of first year students can best be devoted to integrating one’s self into academic and social life available at UT Dallas. Students who demonstrate an ability to successfully balance demands of college classes, college debate and the transition to college life may judge during their second semester.

Question: How are partners selected?
Answer: The debate director, in consultation with the associate director and the other coaches, determines the partnerships and the tournament travel schedule after careful consideration of several factors. Student input is welcome and it plays a role in the determination of partnerships.

The primary goal for determining partnerships and allocating tournament travel is the maximization of team success over the long term and the short term within the constraints of resources. It is not always possible for every debater to receive his or her first choice in partnerships. Partnerships are reshuffled when necessary, and student input is considered in those situations as well.

Question: What are the conditions for team travel?
Answer: We want our debaters to excel and to enjoy their experiences at tournaments. Members of the debate team are, of course, expected to represent the University well while traveling and competing at tournaments. Team members participate under a code of conduct that governs their behavior. Students are required to abide by those rules, by any rules operating at any particular tournament, and by relevant federal, state and local laws.

If you have other questions, please contact the coaching staff via e-mail. To Join the Team, complete the online form.