UNLV Debate Team Excels at National Debate Tournament

UNLV Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum

Members of the UNLV Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum

Mar. 30, 2017



UNLV Debate Team Excels at National Debate Tournament 

The UNLV Debate Team has made significant accomplishments in its 10-year history.

By Afsha Bawany

The UNLV Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum celebrated its second consecutive year advancing to the elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament (NDT). The competition was held at the University of Kansas from March 24 to March 27. Accepting only 78 individual teams, the NDT is the most prestigious debate tournament in the nation.

It was the first time the UNLV debate team advanced two teams to the NDT’s elimination round. This feat was only accomplished by seven other universities at the 2017 NDT, including Harvard, Northwestern, and Georgetown.

“Perhaps best of all, all four of the debaters who made it to the elimination debates return to debate for us again next year,” said Jacob Thompson, director of UNLV Debate Team. “This is a monumental step forward for our program and it reflects excellence across the board and incredible team effort. I’m especially thankful to our assistant coaches Darrian Carroll, Matt Jallits, and Tyler Snelling, and to our assistant director, Tom Gliniecki.”

Participating in the elimination rounds at the NDT places both UNLV teams in the top 30 individual teams in America.

At the NDT, the teams of UNLV students Jeffery Horn and Matthew Gomez and Roman Kezios and Reece Aguilar made it to the elimination rounds. Each of the teams won five of their eight preliminary debates. Horn, Gomez and Kezios are political science majors.  Aguilar is an English major in the UNLV Honors College.

The UNLV debate team had been preparing since last August to prepare for the NDT.  Each year, debate teams from around the nation argue and research one topic. This year, students debated on domestic climate change policy.

The UNLV Debate Team also had three individual teams compete in the Cross Examination Debate Association National Championship Tournament (CEDA).  The competition was held at Johnson County Community College from March 17 to March 22.

Christian Ogata and Jerrell Berrios were named to the CEDA All-American Debate Squad. According to CEDA, this honor is bestowed annually to debaters who “represent the best of intercollegiate debate.” Berrios is majoring in philosophy and did not have previous policy debate experience. Ogata is a political science major. The graduating seniors advanced to the sweet-sixteen of the tournament and finished ninth place out of 88 total teams competing in the CEDA National Championship.

Students with little or no prior policy debate experience compete in the novice division. This year, UNLV students Donald Fagan and Amber Jones competed and won three of their eight preliminary debates advancing to the final four in the novice breakout sessions. Fagan is a political science major and Jones is a communication studies major.           

The debate team ended last fall semester ranked eleventh in the U.S. according to rankings compiled by the National Debate Tournament (NDT). The UNLV debate team is currently ranked ahead of Emory, Georgetown, Northwestern, USC, Stanford, Dartmouth, and dozens of other colleges and universities.  

The rankings are compiled by the National Debate Tournament (NDT) and reflect performance in the varsity division in policy debate tournaments across the nation in the fall 2016 semester. Eighty-eight teams were included in the fall 2016 ranking. The full rankings report is available online.

The UNLV Debate Team has made significant accomplishments in its 10-year history. The debate team’s success can be attributed to its benefactor, the Berman family, UNLV CSUN, UNLV administration, Greenspun College of Urban Affairs and the Department of Communication Studies.

More information on the UNLV Debate Team can be found on its website