UM Debate wins tournament championships in national opener

By Special to UM News

UM Debate wins tournament championships in national opener

By Special to UM News
UM representatives earned Novice and Junior Varsity categories at the National Opener, one of the most competitive debate tournaments in the country.

The University of Miami Debate Team dominated its competition at the National Opener hosted by Georgia State University in Atlanta, one of the largest and most intensely competitive intercollegiate policy debate tournaments in the country. This year’s tournament, held from September 15-17, saw the UM Debate Team winning two of the three championships offered by the event. Harvard won the third. 

In Novice Debate, Sana Hasija and Zach Homeijer were undefeated, advancing into the final round where they won a 3-0 decision against student debaters from Indiana University to earn the title of Novice Champions. Homeijer was also recognized as the top debater in the division.

In the Junior Varsity Division, Jiaying Li and Julia Lynch won five out of six preliminary debates to advance into the quarterfinals where they won 3-0 against the University of Houston. In semifinals, they defeated The University of Texas at San Antonio on a 2-1 vote of the judges, and in finals, they won 3-0 over the team from Samford University. Lynch was named the second place individual speaker in the division.

“I’m really excited. Debating in a second language is never easy, but it has been the most educational and rewarding experience in my college years. I still can’t believe that Julia and I finally did it! This is such a cool way to start my last semester at UM,” said Li, who is from China. 

The UM Debate policy team worked throughout the summer, with Homeijer, Li, and Lynch attending the Arizona Debate Institute in Tempe, Arizona to research and prepare for the year-long topic, Limiting the Executive Power of the President. The team is coached by Patrick Waldinger, lecturer and assistant director of debate.

“Winning two divisions at a tournament is a special accomplishment. I am extremely lucky and honored to coach such amazing and talented students. I am looking forward to many more great accomplishments for UM Debate,” said Waldinger.

The UM Debate Team is directed by David Steinberg, professor of professional practice in the School of Communication. Participation is open to all full-time UM undergraduate students. No prior experience in debate is required.

The next tournament for the UM Debate Team will be at the University of North Georgia, where UM students will compete in a Spanish- and English-language Parliamentary Debate.

UM Debate will also host a UChat on Sept. 26 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Shalala Student Center Senate Room. The moderated discussion’s topic is: "Should companies promote their belief in something, even if it means sacrificing everything?" The UChat is open to the public.

For more information about UM Debate, contact David Steinberg, or visit