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Join Stanford Debate!

Visit our Traveling Team Tryouts information sheet to sign up for a tryout! 


Thanks for your interest in joining the Stanford Debate Society's traveling team!  We are Stanford's intercollegiate debate team, and we travel the country and world to compete in American Parliamentary (APDA) and British Parliamentary (BP) debate.

 We hold tryouts to join the competitive traveling team once annually at the beginning of each academic year which take place at the end of fall quarter week 1, immediately after the activity fair.  Our next tryouts will take place September 17-20, 2020 for the 2020-21 travel team.
FAQs about tryouts
  • What do I have to do at the tryouts?

It's a simple process that involves 3 activities designed to find students who have talent for and interest in debate, even if they have not participated in formal speech or debate prior to Stanford:

  1. Background/info sheet, complete on your own before step 2: You will fill out an info sheet asking you about various things about yourself, why you want to debate, and your debate experience to date.
  2. In-person written tryout, you sign up in advance for one of several sessions offered in a lecture hall: You'll get two topics you could debate about,  and you'll be asked to write arguments for and against both of the topics.
  3. In-person oral tryout, you sign up for a timeslot in advance: We'll give you an outline you can imagine summarizes an opponent's speech, and you'll have 5 minutes to prepare a 5-minute speech in response, which you'll then give in front of the SDS President, the SDS VP-Membership, and two of our coaches.
  • How do I sign up for a tryout?

Visit our Traveling Team Tryouts information sheet to sign up for a tryout! 

  • What if I haven't debated before?

That's totally ok!  People start debate in college all the time, and we accept people with no experience every year; the tryout is designed to test your aptitude for collegiate debate, not merely confirm a resume of high school debate experience.  We'll teach you the ropes!

  • Is Stanford Debate accomplished competitively?

Stanford Debate has a long, rich history of competitive success.  SDS won both the North American Universities Debating Championships (NAUDC) and the North American Debating Championships (NorthAms) in 2018 and the APDA National Championship in 2008.  SDS has appeared in the final round of the World Universities Debating Championships (BP) in 2018 and in 2012 and has appeared in the final round of the North American Universities Debating Championships (BP) & US Universities Debating Championships (BP) many times.  SDS members have won numerous APDA tournaments, top speaker awards and other honors.

  • How much does it cost to attend debate tournaments?

Nothing!  We send debaters to the east coast almost every weekend and in the last few years we have been to England, India, Germany, Mexico, Malaysia, Greece, Philippines, Botswana, etc.  There is zero out of pocket cost for SDS members to attend competitions--even food!

  • Do I have to try out now?  What about a few months into the year?

The start of fall quarter, immediately after the activities fair, is the only time each year that we hold tryouts for the travel team.  Tryouts only take place once a year, and the next tryout opportunity will be September 17-20, 2020 for the 2020-21 travel team.  We have limited resources to spend on travel & coaching so we can't allow everyone to attend competitions, and we also run a series of training sessions organized by our coaching staff early in the year to prepare you for the upcoming season.  Every year we get emails for a week or two after the end of tryouts asking about how to "try out late," a request which we are unable to accommodate--don't miss your opportunity to try out for this year!