Debate Teams’ Success is Hard to Argue With

2 Teams Qualify for National Tournament After Regional Championships

Feb. 28, 2008

Two debate teams from UT Dallas — including one freshman team — qualified for the 62nd National Debate Tournament (NDT) based on their performance at the regional championship tournament hosted last weekend by the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla.

“Getting just one team to the NDT is quite a feat, so qualifying two teams is an especially remarkable accomplishment,” noted Christopher Burk, director of UT Dallas debate. “Very few double freshmen teams ever qualify for the NDT, and their success bodes well for the future of our debate program.”

The NDT is the country’s most prestigious intercollegiate debate competition, with only 78 teams from across the country qualifying each season for the tournament. California State University, Fullerton will host the NDT March 27-31.

The two teams to qualify are Sara Stephens/Brian Rubaie and Daniel Abbas/Andrew Baker.

The team of Stephens and Rubaie finished the regional championship tournament in Oklahoma with 18 of 24 possible ballots, tying for the best ballot record earned at the tournament.

Stephens, a political science senior from Pensacola, Fla., is a member of Collegium V, the honors and enrichment program at the University. She plans to attend law school next year. This was her fourth consecutive NDT qualification, a feat accomplished by just a handful of students each season. Rubaie is a sophomore from Kansas City, Kan., majoring in criminology. This is his second consecutive NDT qualification.

Stephens and Rubaie also earned individual awards at the Oklahoma tournament. Rubaie was named sixth speaker in the region, and Stephens was named eighth.

Abbas and Baker both are freshman, making their achievement at the regional championship tournament especially impressive. They earned 13 of 24 possible ballots during the tournament. Abbas is a political science major from Chicago, and Baker is a political science major from Kansas City, Kan.

The regional championship tournament pits schools in District III, which includes Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. The district is generally considered the toughest in the country and it consistently qualifies more teams for the NDT than any other.

“The rapid rise from never qualifying for a national tournament to qualifying two teams in one season parallels the rise of UT Dallas overall as a destination for exceptional undergraduate students,” said Dr. Michael Coleman, associate provost and dean of undergraduate education at the University. “We have done a remarkable job over the last few years of moving our debate team from a regional junior varsity program to among the elite of the debate world in this country.”

College students debate various aspects of an annual topic selected during the summer prior to a season’s start. The topic for 2007-08 focuses on United States policy in the Middle East. It is: “Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should increase its constructive engagement with the government of one or more of: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Syria, and it should include offering them a security guarantee(s) and/or a substantial increase in foreign assistance.”

UT Dallas will host the coming season’s national topic meeting in May, when coaches from across the country will gather at the University to craft the resolution for the 2008-09. The University also hosts a tournament in Dallas each spring that brings the best teams from across the country to campus.

Media contact: Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]

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National Debate Tournament Standings

UT Dallas ranks 20th in the national varsity points rankings of the National Debate Tournament. Following are rankings as of Feb. 12, the end of the regular debate season. The rankings do not reflect results of regional championship tournaments, some of which will be held next weekend.


1. Emory
2. Kansas
3. Harvard
4. Wake Forest
5. Northwestern
6. Dartmouth
7. Binghamton
8. Michigan State
9. California-Berkeley
10. Missouri State
11. Texas-Austin
12. Southern California
13. Gonzaga
14. Mary Washington
15. Baylor


16. Wyoming
17. Wichita State
18. Kansas State
19. Wayne State
20. Texas-Dallas
21. Georgia
22. Liberty
23. Whitman
24. Michigan
25. Richmond
26. West Georgia
27. Idaho State
28. Central Oklahoma
29. Concordia College
30. Oklahoma

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May 25, 2018