Debaters Capture Third Place in National Meet

March 26, 2009

The UT Dallas debate team took third place at the Cross Examinational Debate Association (CEDA) National Debate Tournament, held March 20-24, at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.

It was the UT Dallas team's best showing ever in a national tournament.

The successful run by duo Andrew Baker, a sophomore political science major and Collegium V honors student, and Brian Rubaie, a junior criminology major, ended in the semifinals match against Maryland debate powerhouse Towson University, losing on a 3-0 decision. Baker and Rubaie debated this team during the 2008-09 season, defeating the Towson team in the Harvard University Intercollegiate Debate Tournament quarterfinals on a 2-1 decision in early November.

The University of Oklahoma (OU) won the CEDA Nationals for second time in three years. UT Dallas' Baker and Rubaie defeated the same OU team in preliminary round 5, serving the OU team their only loss for the entire tournament. Overall, 146 teams made up of 292 debaters competed at the CEDA National Tournament, representing 83 colleges and universities from across the country.

UT Dallas also was honored at the tournament awards ceremony, held the evening of Monday, March 23. Honorees and awards earned include:

  • Brian Rubaie, fourth-place speaker at the tournament and All American Debater, a distinction making him one of the top 30 debaters in the U.S.
  • Andrew Baker, eighth-place speaker at the tournament and first team Academic All American Debater, a combination award for debate achievement and academic excellence.
  • Scott Herndon, "Critic of the Year," South Central CEDA region.
  • Chris Burk, "Director of the Year," South Central CEDA region.

“This is the first time in UT Dallas history that even one debater has earned a top 20 individual speaker award,” said debate team coach Chris Burk. “It's quite amazing to have two debaters in the top 10.”

Team members will next compete at the American Forensic Association’s National Debate Tournament March 26-29 at UT Austin.

“Five years ago, the debate coaches convinced me that it was time to grow beyond regional debate tournaments, get out of the 15 passenger buses and onto the airplanes, and compete in debate at a national level,” said Dean of Undergraduate Education Michael Coleman. “The team's top 25 national rankings over the last three years justify that decision.

“This week's top three finish is testimony to their vision and hard work. It is great to be 'a big fish in a big pond.' Debate personifies the university's devotion to intellectual pursuits and scholastic excellence.”

Founded in 1971 as the Southwest Cross Examination Debate Association, CEDA is now the primary national association promoting policy topic intercollegiate academic debate.

"We are proud of our team and, since everyone is returning, we have high hopes for next season," Burk said.

Other UT Dallas students participating in the tournament were Wes Dwyer, Jilliam Cluff, Brittany Leach and Collin Roark. 


Debate Program Information: Chris Burk, UT Dallas, crb012000@utdallas.edu
Media Contact:  Karah Hosek, UT Dallas, 972-883-4329, karah.hosek@utdallas.edu

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Andrew Baker (left) and Brian Rubaie won third place in the national cross-examinational tournament held at Idaho State University.

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