Welcome to Whitman Debate!

Debate changes the way Whitman's coaches and students see the world and engage with it. Debate is a place where we find a home and a social circle. A place where we learn to respectfully discuss our ideas while building community. Join Whitman Debate!

Our Program

Whitman Debate relies heavily on the mentorship model. First, coaches teach students how to debate, be competitively successful, and make connections between debate and the classroom. Second, students mentor each other so new debaters don't feel intimidated.

Our Community

While we love debate, we also value making the team a space where students can find a social support network. We welcome anyone and everyone regardless of experience level, year in college, or willingness to travel to tournaments. We encourage our team members to invite friends to debate events on campus, host public debates, volunteer in the community and plan "Debate a Friend" meals. We strongly believe competitive success comes easier when you foster a team culture of group accountability, public service, social support, productive dialogue across differences and plain old fun.

Scholarship Opportunities

The scholarship application consists of four parts:

  • A letter describing your experience in speech and debate
  • A letter of recommendation from a debate coach
  • An example of your work in debate (part of a file)
  • A brief statement on why you wish to participate in debate at Whitman

To maintain this scholarship, recipients are required to participate in Whitman's debate team for the duration of their time as a student.

Students should submit their scholarship applications with days of submitting their Common App.

If you are applying Early Decision, your scholarship application is due five days after the Common App deadline. If you are applying for regular decision, you have until Jan. 24, 2022, to get your scholarship application in!

Early Decision I Talent Scholarship: Nov. 20, 2021

Early Decision II Talent Scholarship: Jan. 15, 2022

Regular Decision Talent Scholarship: Jan. 24, 2022

If you have any question, please contact Jesse Crosby at crosbyj@whitman.edu.

Practice is held from August to about the middle of April. You can contact Director of Debate, Lauran Schaefer at any time, 509-522-4418.  If you wish to participate in the upcoming season, contact her early in the fall semester.

Whitman College participates in NPDA and NPTE debate. 

The National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) is one of the two national intercollegiate parliamentary debate organizations in the United States. In tournaments sponsored or sanctioned by the NPDA, teams of two persons debate head-to-head. Tournaments issue a new topic each round, generally on issues such as politics, philosophy, and current affairs, and speeches begin after limited preparation time.

The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) operates an invitation-only national championship tournament once per year for parliamentary debate. The NPTE attracts the top teams in the nation that compete in the parliamentary debate format supported by the National Parliamentary Debate Association.

Teams qualify for the NPTE based on their season-long performances at various invitational tournaments around the United States. The ranking system awards points for both preliminary and elimination round performances.

Those interested in learning more about the NPTE can visit the NPTE website or can post questions on Net Benefits, a parliamentary debate forum.

Whitman College has a long history of national and regional success in debate including two 1st place Nationals Speaker Awards and numerous national champion sweepstakes awards. There was a pause between 2014-2017, so we are currently rebuilding our team.

During the 2018-19 academic year, we won two novice championships, first, fourth, and fifth novice speakers at the Lewis and Clark tournament, despite the fact that all of our debaters are brand new to debate and mostly first-year students. And were ranked 51st out of approximately 400 schools.