FAQ: The Team - Participants, Philosophy, and Atmosphere

How many students participate in debate at UNLV?

The number of students who compete for UNLV varies from year to year. We typically have between five and 10 two-person teams that participate. There is no upper limit to the number of students who may participate in the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum. For more information on the current student members of the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum, please visit our "Meet The UNLV Debaters" page.

How are debate partners selected at UNLV?

Debate partners are selected via mutual agreement between the coaching staff and debaters. The selection process is somewhat informal and typically consists of a private conversation between each debater and the coaching staff. Debaters will be asked to "rank" those students with whom they would most like to debate and those with whom they do not wish to debate. Serious consideration will be given to two debaters who express a strong mutual preference for debating with each other. If there is substantial disagreement, the coaching staff will decide upon partner pairings, making every effort to maximize mutual preference based on individual partner-preference rankings. In the end, partner pairings will most likely be based on the overall potential success that a team may have and similarities in skill level, experience, work ethic, and motivation.

Is debate at UNLV a squad or an individual team effort? Do students share research?

The Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum is a squad effort. We consistently stress the value of teamwork, synergy, cohesion, and collaboration. One of the foundational principles of the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum is that as a team, we are collectively stronger than the sum of our individual parts. The research done by individual members of the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum is shared (electronically) with every other member of the team. If a team happens to not clear to the elimination rounds of a tournament, it should stay up and work for the teams that did clear, and it should scout and flow the elimination debates the following morning. Individuals who happen to not be traveling to a specific tournament should still do a weekly assignment to help those teams that are traveling. One of our team’s core beliefs is that teamwork builds and enables individual success. More importantly, teamwork makes the hard work and time commitment that is an integral part of debate more fun, fulfilling, and rewarding. In addition, a squad attitude that favors teamwork gives the UNLV debate team a family-like atmosphere. Ultimately, this means that a victory by one team on the squad is a victory for every team on the squad.

Do first-year students begin in the novice or junior varsity (JV) division at their first tournaments?

Students will begin debating in the most appropriate division for their skill level. Typically, if you have a reasonable amount of high school policy debate experience, you will begin competing in the varsity division. If you do not debate in the varsity division, our goal will be to move you to that division as quickly as is reasonably possible for you. The UNLV coaching staff strongly believes that students will debate to the level of their competition. This means that if you debate in the novice division, you’ll likely debate only as well as other novices. Our goal is to help you improve and to compete in the highest division in which you’re capable of competing.