Who we are

The NYU Parliamentary Debate Union is the official parliamentary debate team of New York University. We actively compete on the American Parliamentary Debate Association and USUDA BP circuit, sending debaters to various tournaments across the country on a weekly basis. In addition, we traditionally host a large APDA tournament in the spring semester. In 2016, we hosted the APDA National Championship, after successfully hosting the North American Debating Championship in early 2015. In 2017 we are hosting NYU's first ProAm tournament, which will help train novices by mandating that all varsities must debate with a novice partner.

Why Debate?

Write cases on topics that matter to you.

Every round you "gov" is a chance to discuss something new. Whether you love talking about finance, philosophy, international relations, or pop culture, you can debate what you're interested in.

Use intuitive, logical argumentation to win.

No need to talk 1000 words per minute, cite studies, or respond to unverifiable statistics. All information you need to participate in a debate is either common knowledge or presented before the round.

Travel to universities all around the world.

Every weekend you have the opportunity to compete at tournaments hosted by universities like Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, and UChicago. This year, we will also be traveling to Mexico for WUDC 2017.

Challenge yourself.

Sometimes, you'll give a speech on a topic which you knew nothing about prior to the round. You'll defend positions you personally do not hold. It may be challenging, but it's rewarding.

Debate Format

An APDA debate round consists of two teams with two debaters each and a judge (or a panel of multiple judges, often current debaters or recent APDA alumni). The judge calls upon the Prime Minister (PM), the first speaker on the Government (gov) team, to deliver the first constructive speech of the round, known as the Prime Minister's Constructive (PMC). The PM reads a case statement i.e. "This house would legalize all drugs". The case must have arguments on both sides and the arguments must be intuitive, not citations or statistics.

The Opposition (opp) team, having never heard the case before, is allowed to ask points of clarification (POCs) to ensure that they know all the information they need to participate in the round. Questions during this period could be on historical background, unclear definitions, etc. Some cases - referred to as opp-choice cases - allow opp to choose which side of the case they would like to defend. Most cases, however, are run straight i.e. the opp team defends the negation of the case statement (in policy cases, the status quo).

Once both teams are ready and all questions answered, the round begins without prep time. The PM is allowed to give a 7 minute constructive speech, with the last minute of the speech considered protected time and 30-seconds grace for every speech. If time is protected, then Points of Information (POIs) - questions posed by a member of the opposing team that the speaker can elect to answer or waive down - are prohibited.

The judge then calls upon the Leader of the Opposition (LO) to deliver an 8 minute speech. Generally, all constructive speeches after the PMC have two parts: an on-case and off-case. The LOC begins with the off-case, or the independent arguments that support Opposition's side of the debate. A good opp team will have at least three independent arguments that in total span about 5 minutes of their speech.

After covering the off-case, the LO responds to the arguments that came out of the PMC in the on-case. If the LO misses any arguments, those arguments are referred to as dropped, and the claims flow through (are considered true for the round) if the opposition fails to provide a response before the rebuttal speeches. In order to clearly mark responses for judges, good debaters practice signposting, or briefly summarizing the argument they are responding to before clearly providing their enumerated responses. 

Both the Member of Government (MG) and the Member of the Opposition (MO) give 8 minute constructive speeches. The MG begins by rebutting the new arguments brought up by the LOC (off-case) and then rebuilds the government's case (on-case). The MO, although sometimes a more free-form speech, also begins off-case reconstructing the opposition's case and ends on-case with rebuttals to the government's case and new extensions (or additional analysis, nuance or impacts) of the arguments out of MG .

After the MO, the constructive portion of the debate is over and the rebuttal portion begins. No more POIs are allowed, and the opposing team should call new arguments to the attention of the judge in the form of a point of order, New examples are allowed. The LO delivers the Leader of the Opposition's Rebuttal (LOR) 4 minute speech, hopefully anticipating the government's collapse, or winning strategy, and firmly cutting off all routes to victory for the gov team while clearly articulating and weighing the different issues in the round.

The PM then closes the round with the 5 minute Prime Minister's Rebuttal (PMR), by providing reasons for decision (RFDs), or reasons why the government team won the round. Rebuttal speeches should not be "line-by-line" responses from the constructive speeches; rather, a good rebuttal speech recognizes and analyzes the different areas of clash in the debate, weighing the arguments at each juncture and providing independent (and conditional) RFDs.

The judge proceeds to adjudicate the round without intervening, or assuming arguments, evidence, or links that were not explicitly mentioned by the debaters. Each debater in the round is assigned speaker points and a rank (1, 2, 3, or 4), and the judge picks up -- or assigns the win to -- either Opp or Gov. It is customary for debaters to approach the judge after the round to receive constructive feedback and hear the judge's RFD.


Watch rounds

To browse all debate rounds available, please visit videos.apdaweb.org