Debaters Heading West for National Championships
UT Dallas Qualifies to Compete in Tournament for 7th Consecutive Year
Mar. 10, 2010
For the seventh consecutive year, members of the UT Dallas debate team have qualified to participate in the National Debate Tournament (NDT), one of the national championships for U.S. collegiate policy debaters.
The 64th Annual NDT, to be held March 20-23 at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), will feature 78 teams from across the country.
Brian Rubaie (left) and Andrew Baker are the only duo in Texas to earn a National Debate Tournament at-large bid this season.
UT Dallas will have four students, all of them in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, at the tournament:
- Andrew Baker, a junior political science major and Collegium V honors student.
- Wesley Dwyer, a junior majoring in international political economy.
- Collin Roark, a sophomore studying political science.
- Brian Rubaie, senior majoring in criminology.
Top placements at regional tournaments determine who competes in the annual NDT, with each of the nine NDT districts receiving a percentage of berths. The national NDT committee also grants 16 at-large bids to top debate teams.
The partnership of Dwyer and Roark finished fourth at the regional tournament, which was hosted by UT Dallas Feb. 27 and 28. They earned six wins during eight rounds, which included victories over teams from Baylor University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin.
“When we obtained our fifth win, which guaranteed our spot for the NDT, we were so excited we couldn’t sit still,” said Dwyer. “This is my 10th year being involved in debate, and making it to the NDT has been a huge goal of mine from the beginning. To achieve something that Collin and I have both been working so hard at for so much of our lives provided a great feeling of accomplishment.”
Roark also earned the ninth-place individual speaker award among a field of 52 competitors at the regional tournament.
“It felt great to have such a spectacular showing at the regional competition. Everyone on the team worked really hard to get us to this level, and to have everything come together was extremely satisfying,” said Dwyer. “We were the underdogs going into the tournament, and no one from the other schools expected us to do as well as we did.
“We had some big wins, including winning a big debate against the team which was ranked Number 1 going into the tournament, so we couldn’t be happier with how things ended up.”
The UT Dallas duo of Baker and Rubaie earned a first round at-large bid to the NDT. Partnerships earning this award are exempted from the regional tournament. Baker and Rubaie are the first partnership from UT Dallas to earn a NDT at-large bid and the only duo in Texas to do so this season.
“Andrew and Brian began the season as the Number 1 team in the country and battled during the entire regular season to remain at the top of the national standings,” said Chris Burk, the University's debate director. “So while it’s not a surprise that they earned a first-round bid to the NDT, it’s still a huge achievement for these two and for the entire UT Dallas debate program.”
UT Dallas competes in District III, which includes all colleges and universities located in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas – a district debate program director Christopher Burk labels “the toughest in the country.”
“This year our district is sending 22 teams to the NDT, a record number for a single district,” said Burk. “The high number this season reflects the deep pool of talented and dedicated teams in District III.”
The debate topic for the NDT is the same one college students have argued throughout the current season: “Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal, and/or substantially reduce and restrict the role and/or missions of its nuclear weapons arsenal.”
Debating a single topic for an entire season allows debaters to delve into various aspects of the topic throughout the year. End-of-season debates often reflect a deep understanding of the issues.
“An annual topic facilitates the clash of informed students educated beyond superficial elements of an issue,” said Burk.
The debate team will close the season with the NDT and an appearance at the Cross Examination Debate Association Nationals, also held at UC Berkeley March 24-28.
UT Dallas will host next year’s NDT in March 24-28, 2011. The NDT is held under the auspices of the American Forensic Association.