The Minnesota Debate Team had a very successful 2016-17 season. The squad’s members represented the University at a number of regional and national-level competitions throughout the nation while qualifying to the National Debate Tournament (NDT), hosted by the University of Kansas. There, the Gopher debate team competed against approximately 80 of the nation’s top intercollegiate debate teams for the national title in debate’s weekend-long version of “March Madness.” The Minnesota Team of Rohit Asirvatham (Junior, Political Science) and Teja Leburu (Sophomore, Economics) narrowly missed qualifying for the prestigious elimination rounds, besting teams from Dartmouth, George Mason, Towson, and Wayne State.

The team of Asirvatham and Leburu also finished fifth in the varsity division at the American Debate Association’s (ADA) National Tournament, hosted by the George Mason University. They defeated a number of excellent teams before bowing out to Harvard College, the competitions eventual champions. The team of Adam Johnson (Sophomore, CSOM/Leadership) and Jillian Welborn (Sophomore, Journalism / Philosophy / Spanish) finished third in the tournament’s junior varsity competition.

The squad advanced teams to the elimination rounds of nearly every major college invitational tournament, and finished in the late elimination rounds of a number of regional debate competitions.

The program’s strong performance this past season builds upon the previous efforts and accomplishments of the debaters and coaches, present and past alike. Minnesota has qualified to the NDT in each of the past nine years, and has qualified two teams in five of those years. The program has made regular elimination round appearances at the Cross Examination Debate Association’s (CEDA) and American Debate Association’s (ADA) national tournaments. The program has also finished either first, second, or third in the regional rankings (North Central Region / District 4) of both CEDA and the NDT for each of the past 1- seasons.

Finally, the program engages in significant community outreach efforts. Team members work as coaches at metro middle and high school debate programs. The program hosts a number of tournaments on campus each year, including a large invitational tournament, the Minnesota State High School League’s state debate championship tournament, the Minnesota Urban Debate League’s middle school championship, and several smaller invitational tournaments each fall. In 2019, the team hopes to host the National Debate Tournament, the nation’s oldest intercollegiate debate championship. The team also sponsors on-campus public debates on issues of concern to the campus community, our city, the nation, and the world.

By the Numbers

NDT First Rounds: 2013, 2015

NDT Qualification: 2009, 2010, 2011 (x2), 2012 (x2), 2013 (x2), 2014, 2015 (x2), 2016 (x2), 2017

NDT Elim Round Appearances: 2013 (x2), 2014, 2015

CEDA Elim Round Appearances: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

ADA Elim Round Appearances: 2014 (3rd), 2015 (1st), 2016 (5th), 2017 (5th)

NJDDT (@JCCC) Elim Round Appearances: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Novice Nationals (@ MSU) Appearances: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

NDT Points Rankings (IA, MN, NE, SD, ND, WI): We have finished first in the in the District (IV) during 9 of the past 10 years

CEDA Points Rankings (NDT + Illinois): We have finished either first, second, or third in the regiona. (North Central) in each of the past 10 years.