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Whitman Debate & Forensics

Welcome to Whitman Debate & Forensics!

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 and Forensics!

Our Program

Whitman Debate and Forensics 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 and forensics, 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 and forensics at Whitman

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

If you are applying Early Decision, your scholarship application is due five days after the application deadline. If you are applying for regular decision, you have until January 23, 2024, to get your scholarship application in!

  • Early Decision I Talent Scholarship Application Deadline: November 20, 2023
  • Early Decision II Talent Scholarship Application Deadline: January 15, 2024
  • Regular Decision Talent Scholarship Application Deadline: January 23, 2024

Please refer to the Merit and Talent Awards webpage for the link to apply. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Talent Scholarship Coordinator, at talent@whitman.edu

Practice is held from August to about the middle of April. You can contact Director of Debate and Forensics, Baker Weilert-Pekar at any time, 509-527-5742.  If you wish to participate in the upcoming season, contact him 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.

Since 2018, Whitman College Debate and Forensics has accrued over 100 awards, including qualifying two teams to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence in the 2021–2022 season, three first-round bids for 2023–2024, and has already qualified 2 teams by the start of November 2023 for the current season. 

In Fall 2022, Whitman expanded to a comprehensive level, adding Individual Events (also known as Forensics), IPDA (Individual Debate), and occasionally Public Forum and Congress. In 2022-2023 alone, the comprehensive program captured nearly 90 awards, including a National Championship in Junior Varsity Public Forum and a Top Novice finish in Editorial Impromptu, both at Pi Kappa Delta, the comprehensive Nationals we attend. 

Additionally, the program has placed consistently in the top five of the National Parliamentary Debate Association and National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence rankings. 

Life at Whitman
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