Why should I debate?
Most importently, it's FUN. Not only are rounds fun (you get to debate anything you want!), but you'll make some great friends (both MIT and not) and get to travel all over the world (for free).
Additionally, Parliamentary Debate, with its emphasis on impromptu speaking, helps you to develop excellent communication skills and teaches you to think on your feet. Debate also greatly enhances your appreciation of contemporary political and socio-economic issues. It provides you with a forum to analyse these issues and present your perspectives.
Furthermore, Debate Tournaments enable you to visit a host of colleges and universities (Harvard, Yale, and Stanford to name a few) and to interact with the students there. We do everything we can to ensure that freshmen attend as many tournaments as possible. The team bears all the registration, transportation and accommodation costs.
I've never debated before and don't have much experience in public speaking. Can I still join?
Absolutely! Prior experience is not a prerequisite for doing well or learning to debate. There have been many members of the team, such as Patrick Nichols '03 (a legendary debater who won the North American Debate Championships and was part of two of the top five teams of the year his senior year), who came in without any experience and became so good, he's still respected on the circuit. Our training sessions, practice rounds and frequent traveling will give you plenty of opportunities to practice and improve.
What kind of time commitment are we talking?
Whatever you choose. You are free to decide on the level and extent of your involvement. There are meetings once a week, where we hold practice rounds. Additionally, we will be holding training sessions once a week for new members. Beside this, there are tournaments nearly every weekend. The best part is that you can choose to attend as many or as few events as you like.
How much do I pay
None, Zilch, Zero. When traveling, MIT Debate pays for all travel and food. All you need to bring is pen and paper.
What are tournaments like? Do I need to prepare a lot?
A tournament consists of five general rounds, semifinals, and finals. The best thing about Parliamentary Debate is that you don't have to spend hours preparing for it. You and your partner will prepare cases for half of your rounds, but since the other team doesn't have advance notice, you won't have to do any research to prepare your case. With MIT schedules being as they are, this is one aspect of Debate that we're sure you'll appreciate.
How much time does a tournament take?
Be prepared to leave on Friday morning/afternoon depending on how far away the tournament is and return sometime Saturday evening. Team members are excused from Friday afternoon classes by MIT policy.
Do we do anything besides constantly debate at these tournaments?
Of course! There is a lot of fun to be had at every debate tournament. Between rounds, tournaments usually have silly contests and activities for those interested. Also, on Friday nights, the host team often holds a party. Each tournament is usually attended by most major universities, and meeting other college students is one of the best things about debate. Occasionally, at especially unique locations such as San Francisco, Athens or New York, the team will stay for an extra night to enjoy the area.
How does tournament signup work?
The President will usually send out an email on Sunday or Monday with sign-up information (make sure you are on the mailing list). All you have to do is respond to this email by the designated date.
Generally, we need to know by the Mon. or Tues. right before the weekend of the tournament in order to accommodate you, but so long as the delegation hasn't left MIT yet, it may still be worth a shot trying to go. If you sign-up to go, and it turns out that you can't make it, we appreciate notice ASAP.
For most tournaments, we are able to accomodate everyone who wants to go. For certain ones, however, such as the North American Championships or Chicago, there are more people interested in going than we have space for. In such cases, it is to your advantage to sign-up promptly and ensure that you can go well ahead of time. Please note that for tournaments that are expensive to travel to, like Stanford or the World Championships, there is a strict priority system by experience, skill and dedication. Freshman who were committed first semester are able to travel to Stanford and in general, those who are committed to MIT Debate for three or four yours travel to Worlds at least once.
If you are going to a tournament, by Institute policy, you have a valid excuse for missing classes or having exams rescheduled. Please don't hesitate to let us know if you need assistance in that regard.
How do I subscribe/unsubscribe from the mailing list?
To change your membership, use one of following three procedures:
1) Use the built-in Athena mailing list utility by typing "mailmaint" at an Athena prompt. You will then see an options menu that will allow you to verify that you are on the debate mailing list and also remove yourself from that list.
2) Use the webbased version at http://web.mit.edu/moira (you will need certificates).
3) contact the VP of Membership by emailing the address on the main page. Please provide us with your name and email address for proper processing.