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Debate Team

USD Speech and Debate Team

The USD Speech and Debate Team is a co-curricular activity open to any student interested in impacting their liberal arts education through advanced training and intercollegiate competition in limited preparation speaking, public address, oral interpretation and/or team parliamentary debate.

Individual Speaking Events

Individual speaking event descriptions are taken from the American Forensics Association. For more information on the rules for each individual event, see the National Forensics Association bylaws.

Event Descriptions

Parliamentary Debate

By design, parliamentary debate is intended to be adjudicated and enjoyed by intelligent but general audiences.

With minimal preparation time, two-person parliamentary debate teams use their general knowledge to argue a different prompt in each round. Parliamentary debates concern policy, value or factual propositions. Parliamentary debate is most similar to public forum.

The structure and general rules for parliamentary debate are provided on the National Parliamentary Debate Association's website.

Team Mission

The USD Speech and Debate Team is committed to providing a team-centered and supportive environment in which students use competitive public speaking as a context for forming lasting friendships while practicing the foundational habits of a liberal education including empathy, wisdom, moderation and courage. We provide a safe space for students of all backgrounds to share messages they are passionate about in an effort to make positive changes in our world, our community and ourselves.

Aristotle observed that friendship is a necessary condition of human happiness and that friendships prosper when formed and maintained within a community of practice, like the USD Speech and Debate Team’s dedication to education and excellence in persuasive public speaking.

Empathy is knowing how to access the cognitive and emotional perspectives of others. On the USD Speech and Debate Team, empathy is practiced through peer coaching, audience analysis, performance and crafting speeches authentically expressing other perspectives.

Wisdom is the ability to apply essential humanistic, scientific and technical knowledge to particular situations. On the USD Speech and Debate Team, wisdom is practiced by articulating solutions to significant problems, expressing the values of various communities and reflecting on successes and failures of the past.

Moderation is the ability to balance individualism against the communal needs of those professional and personal communities necessary for human flourishing. The USD Speech and Debate Team members practice moderation by respecting themselves, their teammates and the intercollegiate community of forensic competition.

Courage is the pursuit of one’s goals through a combination of preparation, commitment and execution. The USD Speech and Debate Team members practice courage by defining competitive goals, articulating plans for achieving those goals and methodically working toward those goals within a supportive community.


For more information on joining the USD Speech and Debate Team contact the director of forensics:

Name Department & Office Contact
Shane Semmler
  • Associate Professor
Dakota Hall 337

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