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The Penn State Speech & Debate Society

A student organization sponsored by the CDD

Penn State Speech and Debate society logo

The Center for Democratic Deliberation is a co-sponsor, along with the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, for the Penn State Speech & Debate Society. They are a student organization that aims to provide a platform for structured, intelligent, and open debate in an environment where Penn State students can improve their skills as advocates and citizens. In pursuit of this goal, the Penn State Speech & Debate Society holds weekly open practices, organizes public debates over pertinent topics, and competes at speech and debate tournaments against other universities.

The Penn State Speech & Debate Society was founded in the 1890s, but debate did not really take off at Penn State until the late 1910s. A women's debate team was founded at Penn State in 1916. However, due to the First World War, the team was quickly disbanded and not reinstated until 1926. During the 1920s the Debate Society became much more popular, so much so, in fact, that 70 students tried out for the team in the fall of 1927. Of those applicants only 30 elite debaters made the cut. Around that time, the Penn State student newspaper, The Collegian, went so far as to suggest that debate become an official activity of the fraternities on campus.

After a lull in active participation, Matt Wolfson, an undergraduate student, reinstated the team as a campus organization in October 2009. They hold weekly practices, led by their coaches and officers, every Tuesday night at 6:00 pm in 103 Willard. All Penn State students are welcome to attend and participate in the Society's practices.

Click here if you are interested in financially supporting the Speech & Debate Society, click here to donate.

1909-1910 debate team photo