UMass Amherst Department of Political Science

Debate Team

Hello and Welcome to the Website for the UMass Policy Debate Team here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst!  We are a registered student organization housed by the Political Science Department. The policy debate team is a perfect fit for students from all majors. It helps develop analytical skills, public speaking skills, and focuses on pressing public policy issues that our generation will need to face. The skills you learn from policy debating are priceless and being on the team is a lot of fun. This website is intended both for people interested in finding out more about us and for our current team members.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, comments, or for any other reason. Enjoy!

To email the debate team:

You can also visit the team online at Campus Pulse or contact the Center for Student Development for more information.


What is Policy Debate?
While there are many types of debate, our team competes in a style known as Policy Debate. CEDA(Cross-Examination Debate Association) Policy Debate centers on a single resolution that is debated for a whole year. The resolution is always based on a policy of the United State Federal Government. It is also switch-side debating, meaning teams must debate both in support of and against the resolution. Finally, the debate is also evidence-based, meaning it centers on research and preparation, rather than on spontaneous speaking.
About our team…
The University of Massachusetts historically hosted an incredibly reputable team, started in 1909. The team competed for years, even across seas at Oxford. Somewhere during the early 1990’s, for reasons unknown, the team disappeared. In 2000, five students banded together to try and get the program started up once again. Since then, the team has fluctuated in membership, as it remained entirely student run. By 2005, most of the original members had all graduated, and the program was dwindling. Campus support grew, and not only were we adopted under the Political Science Department, but the team has received an incredible amount of student interest, and is constantly growing.
Wondering how learning policy debate will help you once you’re out of college? Read what one former team alumni, Christopher Yu has to say about the skills he carried over into his career:
After finishing school and entering that illusive and intangible "real" world, I didn't know what to expect when I entered the workplace.  After four years in college I was pretty used to dealing with college students and the happenings around campus, but there was always that possibility that these skills would NOT transfer over into the very different working world. Luckily, thanks to my experience with the Debate Team, I’ve had a huge step up on the competition.  The attention to details, note taking, and presentation skills that Debate has given me has proven to be invaluable.  No one expects the kid straight out of school to do anything except the explicit tasks they’re assigned, but these skills and the "think on your feet" mentality that Debate fosters has made me an incredibly competent and dependable member of my work team. If you have the time and willingness to improve yourself, learning about Debate is probably one of the best things you can honestly do.  Don't just cogitate, learn to debate!
-Christopher Yu, Associate Software Engineer - Fidelity Investments

When are meetings?

Meetings for returning members and those with prior policy debate experience are on Monday evenings. New member(novice) meetings are on Wednesday evenings. Please send an email to for more information. Even if you can't make these meeting times, returning members are committed to making you part of the team. We'll find a time to meet with you one-on-one, in order to get you up to speed on the activity. Please don't hesistate to email us, as we will try to make every effort possible to help you get and stay on the team!

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