New York City Urban Debate League

NYCUDL Debaters and Coaches Busy During Coronavirus Pandemic

During these trying times, the NYCUDL coaches, students, and staff have been busy working on a number of online initiatives and future plans to support our debaters.

For all of our upcoming events, check out our calendar. 

October 22 6:30 pm

Policy debate training with Patrick Lee
PF debate training with Paul Glenn

October 21 6:30 pm

Policy debate training with Stefan Bauschard

October 20 7:30 pm

Online tournament training for high school coaches with Tyler Beattie.

October 19 7:30 pm

Online tournament training for high school coaches with Tyler Beattie.

October 15 PF & Policy Coach and Student Training

October 11 Brooklyn Tech debaters earn a Public Forum bid to the Tournament of Champions. This is the first Public Forum bid in the history of their program!

October 10 233 students from 25 schools participated in our first NYCUDL Middle School tournament of. the season!

October 9 Youth Leaders receive training on running our October 10th tournament.

October 8 Topic Jeopardy Night

October 6. Coaches receive training on how the upcoming digital debate tournament will work.

October 2. NYCUDL Youth Leader released his Chrome evidence extension to make card cutting more efficient.

October 1 Patrick Lee led our novice training session on the School Resource Officers case.

September 29th & 30.  NYCUDL staff worked with MSQI Coaches to kick-off a year of online debate


September 27

Day 2 of our Debate Club went well!

September 25

On Friday evening we kicked off our Youth Leaders program. Our Youth Leaders will be working to support our league schools throughout the year. All Youth Leaders have committed to 40 hours of service this year!, This is in addition to the 60 hours of service they performed this summer!

September 24

The NYCUDL’s Emily Moffa leads our Public Forum coach training session.

And Patrick Lee, a graduate of the University of Texas, kicked-off our Beginner debate training.

September 23

Dr. Michael Hester, Director of Debate and Director of the African American Male Initiative at the University of West Georgia kicked-off our Policy debate training for our JV students.

September 20

Today we kicked-off the first session of our fall Debate Club with 98 students!

September 17

The NYCUDL kicked-our PF league-topic (school resource officers) training for coaches AND training for our Sunday Debate Club program, which has nearly 100 students enrolled. NYC parents love our debate programs! And we already have 38 schools registered for our virtual year! Many coaches have commented that they like our stable, predictable programming.

August 31

Coach coffee with league coaches

August 30

NYCUDL Executive Co-Directors, Stefan Bauschard and Amisha Mody Mehta, published Debate is (On)line.

August 24

League registration opens for schools. Please read our new guidelines before registering.

August 15

The League calendar has been published on our home page.  Please check back regularly for updates.

July 6-17.  NYCUDL Online Debate Camp

Between July 6 and July 17 the New York City Urban Debate League held a city-wide debate institute for 259 students, 60 student leaders, and 20 adult participants. This was the largest debate camp hosted by any urban debate league in the United States.  Read more.


June 29 77 lab leaders and camp administrators meant to continue planning for the July 6th kick-off of our summer institute!



June 24    Training Lab Leaders for Summer Debate Institute

Summer training has begun for more than 50 lab leaders for our Summer Debate Institute. With more than 250 students enrolled, we’ve been working hard to prepare!

June 19.  Fun Fridays in June for MS debaters” Clashing this week were 3  students from the Bronx, Mart Twain, and Hunter MS as they wrestled with “Ethical Dilemmas” speed rounds. 

June 18 Parli Outreach Coordinator Tylier Beattie met with Brownsville school administration and principals to plan our 2020-1 Brownsville Debate Initiative.

June 16    NAUDL, NYCUDL, & BUDL:  “Meeting of the Minds!”

Greg Ekey, Director of Education and League Programming,& consultants & EDs of NYC and Boston exchange struggles, & best practices  to translate & turbo-charge online training for coaches & students.  First in a hoped-for series of quality summits!

June 13.  Today was the last day of Debate Club for the year. Students enjoyed their time wrapping-up their lessons and competing in a tournament.

June 12 Middle School Fun Fridays!
Debate skills and community building every Friday in June, 4-5pm. Coaches watched and learned!

June 11 DebateAlumni, a membership organization devoted to brining together former middle school, high school, and college debaters and coaches from around the global to connect and network with each other while supporting future generations of debaters, held its first Adult Speed Debates night.  We raised more than $2,000 for the NYCUDL!

June 10 We held our elementary school and middle school tournaments for District 7 in the South Bronx.  More than 60 students participated!

MS and Elementary teams participated.  Many schools were preparing with NYCUDL-curated articles and guidelines. Some schools met weekly for Friday e-sparring.  Wednesday’s eTournament showcased  2wo rounds judged by experienced NYCUDL HS student debaters.

Resolved: Government should make WIFI free. And for MS:

Resolved: All Americans under the age of 18 are obligated to vote! 

 Here are a few “clips” from among many inspiring exchanges during rounds: 

“People need have 5 basic needs to be met before a government should pay for the  luxury of free.  You need a shelter, food, and clothes first–it’s the SHELTER DIVIDE first, not the DIGITAL DIVIDE! “

“Internet is now the doorway to access healthcare searches, jobs, and even affordable higher education or even now improve your education during a pandemic.  Lower income people are disadvantaged without it.” 

“Nothing is FREE. There’s no free lunch or free WIFI. Who pays for it? Taxpayers. The government’s money is our money. So to use a word I learned in my ELA class, we call that IRONIC!”

“Emergencies happen if you don’t have GPS, and that takes expensive data plans. Lives could depend on whether someone gets a message or can communicate well using WIFI, and jobs and educational opportunities will be lost for too many.” 

“There are other places to get online–libraries, schools. It’s too costly to make sure each home has its own WIFI when the government could be spending money on shelters and safer neighborhoods and healthcare that will then make people able to relax and learn and find better jobs.”                            

“It’s not fair to force people to vote because of the 1st amendment which shall not deny the rights of free speech, or of free press; or the freedom to assemble.  That means we have the right to protest. To some people, and sometimes, the decision not to vote for one of the 2 political parties is a sign of protest. You can’t stop that.”

“No one has complete freedoms. You think people have the freedom to just do or say whatever they want?”

“No, they mean by freedom of speech. It means freedom of what you think–freedom like no one can make you do something or believe something you don’t want to. That kind of freedom.” 

 Coach Andrew Carvaggio commented, “This was incredible. Is there any way we can do this again soon?

Judge testimonials show they, too, were impressed. “I couldn’t believe how young these debaters were. I never had the confidence and competence they have now. They’re going to be incredible through middle school and beyond.”  

June 10. The NYCUDL’s Aubrey Semple led a book club.

HS Debate Book Club & Black Lives Matter  Voices!     

Fabulous healing discussion on Michelle Alexander’s analogies of slavery to the new Jim Crow and its differences:  more covert, but just as powerful control. Student-shared links were flying left and right!!

June 7   Summer Debate Institute Open House     Mini Lessons!

We showcased some  H.O.T  Higher Order Thinking skill-honing tasks and games at the JUNE 7 OPEN HOUSE for Summer Debate Institute.


Recurring city-wide celebration of MS debate skills and community building games. Every Friday in June. Students hale from all levels and locations: 3 from the Bronx, 2 from Queens and Brooklyn, and 2 from Manhattan.  Activities include debate tug of war, Jeopardy, and sparring matches!

June 2-4 & June 9    NYCUDL Education Director Loretta Brady attends a series on debate inspired curriculum with Boston Urban Debate League. They share ways to ensure online debate instruction –especially its inherent gains of  thinking and engagement–to stay active, warm, and vibrant on screen.

June 3   MS Debate Book Club     closed for now with students presenting burning research questions, especially: Save Capitalism? Down with Monopoly & Monopsony, a powerpoint by Nikita Chernin. 

June 1 District 23 — Brownsville Meeting

We had a great meeting today to kick-off our Brownsville Initiative that is being sponsored by L&M Properties. Twenty students have submitted videos as part of an application for our online summer camp!  We spent time discussing our summer camp preparations and laying the groundwork for our year-long program during the next academic year.

May 28 – Online Presentation  – Topic Discussion on the 2019-2020 NYCUDL Policy Debate Topic – Criminal Justice Reform Students will learn about various affirmative case positions, various negative arguments and topic literature which will help them approach the policy issues with preparation and confidence.  .  

May 23   MS Winners of Weekly Web Debate Contest

NYCUDL staff solicited, reviewed, commented, then evaluated case/editorial submissions from 6 middle schools and early 20 submissions. Finalists who made the cut to elimination rounds then had to write rebuttals to the opponent essay they deemed the strongest.  Top pro and con winners reflected proudly on the growth of our Bronx schools, In-Tech Academy and PS343.

May 21  HS Debate Book Club

Michelle Alexander’s THE NEW JIM CROW continues to inspire participants with possible Aff cases: , Federal Regulations to videotape interrogations, to community policing training and support.  Aubrey Semple, Chiara Fuller, and Loretta Brady, all NYCUDL staff, guide students to related law cases, famous advocates as DA Larry Krasner, and other germaine statistical references and articles they’ll pursue. 


May 20      MS Debate Book Club 

10 participants from 6 schools continue to debate free market capitalism through Barbara Ehrenreich’s NICKEL AND DIMED. Student-generated questions led to clash on the worthiness of work stoppages and unions to best solutions for affordable housing in a free market economy.  Some are researching whether Welfare to Work programs have “worked” and who defines that success.



June 1-June10    District 7  elementary and middle schools prepare with NYCUDL for two online tournaments in June. NYCUDL reaches out with practice planning trips and  fills their Google Drives with relevant articles—rich with embedded claims, counterclaims and reader-friendly statistical studies— germaine to the different resolutions for each tournament:


Local Governments Should Provide Free Wi-Fi Access to Their Citizens. 


The U.S. federal government should make voting mandatory.

May 16-17    National Debate Coaches Association National Conference

NYCUDL presenters Aubrey Semple and Stefan Bauschard share best practices and expertise on digital debate and issues of equity and access.  NYCUDL staff Loretta Brady gleaned cutting edge ideas on e-curriculum, synchronous/asynchronous debate camps, and virtual community building from leading national programs who presented this year. 

May 18 We had a great meeting with the education leaders of District 7, including principals and the Superintendent, to kick-off our District 7 initiative.

May 16  NYCUDL MS E-Tournament. We had Parli and Public Forum Divisions. Expected attendance – 100 students.   Coaches continue seeking support from NYCUDL staff for tips and training.

We had 19 schools, 140 debaters, 53 judges, 22 coaches, 13 UDL staff/volunteers at our first official online UDL tournament!

All Photos

Weekly Beginning May 13   MS Debate Book Club:  NICKEL AND DIMED:  Watch out! When adolescents take ownership of a group, anything can happen. This week’s session became an  impromptu research fest thanks to each debater’s riveting questions.  

“Does she exaggerate how managers’ with control and disrespect?”

“Is all of capitalism broken, or just some places? Or is society broken?”

“Why do they say unions have sneaky promises?”  “Do they?”

 “What percentage of homeless people today are employed but still live in their cars like she found? (25%, and 40%-60% are unstably employed part-time, a 45% rise since our book. NCH.)

“What percentage of homeless people are dependent on drugs & alcohol?” (Close to 35%, but about 15% of them became that way during the stress of homelessness. CDC)

May 11-13     Bronx PS 343 and Staten Island IS 75  enjoyed a 3 day battle of the boroughs debate tournament, with consultation from NYCUDL staff. Advice to students spanned tips on developing a story of the harms when free speech is diminished, to suggesting the PRO could gain credibility conceding some other root causes, while still persuading that regulation is key to diminishing violence. Staff support also included supplementing a raft of academic and  international articles to flesh out the resolution: Social media companies should be responsible for censoring hate speech on their platforms, especially any threats against Asian-Americans during this pandemic.

We also aligned this resolution to the Weekly Web Debate Contest online to better support coaches and teams. Participants’ drafts receive  intense, targeted input on both writing and research. 

Ava Garnett, who lives with a rare joint disease that hampers mobility, finds e-tournaments a benefit to riding a bus for hours from IS 75 in Staten Island.  

This echoes the enthusiasm of a differently-abled young man who attended our recent HS Debate Games Night who thanked  the league’s awareness of ablism, and hoped we’d continue as strong advocates for all physically, mentally, or emotionally challenged.

May 8   Weekly Web Debate Contest: Written War of Words

Dylan Brown


NYCUDL staff provide feedback and select finalists and winners. This week, two Bronx schools triumphed with 1st place Pro Champ Jaden Rocha of Pelham Lab School, (pictured here with Coach John Curci, supported by Outreach staff for this task) and World View’s 2nd place Champ, on the Con side, 


Dylan Brown. “I am so thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to enter again,” wrote Dylan. 







May 7. NYCUDL outreach coordinator leads 20+ coaches/teachers in a training on our May 16th online tournament

May 7th. Outreach coordinator Loretta Brady leads our weekly middle school book club.

May 1 –Online Debate Contest honors winners in this Written War of Words

The NYCUDL awards student entrants who revise an opinion piece after our careful feedback, then refute best “elimination round” contestants. Weekly, MS and HS e-debaters grapple with topics that include border closings,  covering presidential health briefings, and whether celebrities’ should fundraise  with their own branded products.

New contests in this  Written War of Words  launch every Friday continuously throughout the season.





May 1 1 HS Community Game Night

Arielle Gallegos leads the NYCUDL’s community game night to support our high school debaters.

April 30   NYCUDL gifts Title 1 Squads with “Pre-stocked” Slack libraries –along with training and collaboration to raise the bar for their teams.Like a hot line to the “Bat phone,” the coach at Bronx PS15, for example, now has argument prep, articles, and teaching tips at her fingertips–plus instantaneous, in-depth support from NYCUDL staff.  Better still, empowered, linked-in debaters divvy up research tasks and exchange files, cases, and blocks among each other.  May 16th’s e-tourney may witness their highest levels of debating yet!

April 30 and Thursdays thereafter HS Debate Book Club.  High school debaters will read, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

In our first session, we navigated through the scholarship of various criminal justice scholars on the subject of the roots of the criminal justice reforms to slavery. Members of the club shared their viewpoints on the literature.

Applicants tell us, “I would like to meet other curious peers who are also interested in debating and working towards a more equitable future.”

And thank us, “I am an avid reader and debater and would like to broaden my horizons in both fields to improve my skills. I have always enjoyed reading fiction novels, but never have read books related to law and history. This book club is perfect to expose me and help understand those types of books!”

April 29 and Wednesdays thereafter MS  Debate Book Club.  Middle school students will read, Nickel & Dimed by  Barbara Ehrenreich

Applicants tell us, “I am very interested in social and economic justice and would love to read and discuss this book with others.”

And thank us, “I like to read and I am home bored because I don’t have books.”

And parents thank us, “We are very excited for this program! What a great opportunity for shared critical thinking. Thank you for your consideration!”

April 28 and Tuesday thereafter – Virtual Professional Development with Program Director, Aubrey Semple 

Aubrey Semple, program director of the NYC Urban Debate League presents a sixty-minute Zoom conference call where coaches from NYC UDL engage in an informative discussion on best coaching practices in competitive debate. This session prepares debate coaches on contemporary coaching techniques that complement various debate events that we offer in the league. The goal of these sessions would be to inspire, encourage, and engage coaches on ways to help your debate program grow, both in terms of competitive success and student engagement in the activity.

April 24 –  Loretta Brady, NYCUDL’s Director of Education, reached out to some of the League’s coaches to see how they are doing. After a healing discussion, encouraging  their e-studies, students sparred on mini-topics including: “E-graduation, or postpone to September?” and shared pandemic paradoxes, including Kalvin’s insight that,  “You know, in a weird way, it’s bringing people to life. Look at how much more people are appreciating each other and life.” 

April 23-World View HS, and Pelham Lab HS, Bronx, Arts & Technology HS and Murray Hill Academy, NYC with the help of NYCUDL together spawning solutions to help their students surmount massive obstacles of the digital divide. Team chats, group conference call-ins with coach and NYCUDL Outreach Tech Support are building momentum. One Bronx coach has students video tape themselves delivering a speech, then upload it to her for feedback!  With every coming week, we’ll be “e-meeting” with more middle and high school coaches not yet connected to their debate clubs in order to provide technical support on matters both practical and pedagogical.

April 18 — Online Parli Tournament

The coaches from PS 161 (Tyler Beattie), Center School (Rebecca Eastwood), Hamilton Grange (Joao Moderno), Q300 (Elijah Cho), Brownsville Collaborative (Guy Dion) and Sunset Park (Adina Benno) are collaborating to do a digital MS parli tournament run by themselves  on April 18.  We hope to learn from their experience as we consider developing a larger online tournament for our schools.

April 17 — Online Text Debates

The NYCUDL launched its Weekly Web Debates. These text debates are open to any students from league member schools and are designed to help students improve their writing and reasoning skills.  Through model anchor texts, focused research tips, and guiding personal feedback on first drafts, debaters clash over current policies in the face of a global pandemic. 

These are held every week.

April 11 — Debate Club

Our 75+ enrolled Debate Club students will meet for our Saturday morning Debate Club session from 9:30-11:30

April 6 —  Kappa VI MS, a diverse Title 1  public school in East Rockaway, begins planning with NYCUDL  on how to guide advanced research and “Rebuttal Redos” remotely. Peer-generated  topics  included:  “PG13 ratings harm more than help society.” “Teen popular music has more power to influence good, than evil.” In future meet-ups, debaters wish to grapple with socio-economic justice questions and current government decisions and conflicts around the COVID-19 emergency, all  inspired by the NYCUDL MS Debate Book Club and  NYCUDL Weekly Web Debate Contest topics.

April 4 — Leon Goldstein Wins Novice Georgetown online

Leon Goldstein’s Shelma Ben Abdallah won the novice policy division of the Georgetown International Online tournament.

March 30th

The NYCUDL announces that its summer debate institutes are moving online. The programs are o try pen to anyone in the US at standard tuition rates and available to NYCUDL students who are from league member schools who qualify for scholarships based on coach recommendation.

March 26 —  In-Tech, MS & HS in the Bronx continues meeting virtually for regular debate practices and to train to prepare trials for courts in their related Restorative Justice Peer Discipline program. Their debaters so far have won top prizes through the Weekly Web Debate Contests, too. 

March 24 & 28 — Debate Club Moves Online

The NYCUDL announced its move to run its Saturday Debate Club programs online.  The first online session started on March 28th.  Reflections on the First Day

March 22 — NYCUDL E-Learning Classrooms

The NYCUDL launched its new online e-learning platform  —

March 18 — PS 161 Practice

Debaters from PS 161 in Harlem participated in an online learning exercise and a scrimmage with their Coach Tyler Beattie (also the NYCUDL parli director) and Loretta Brady and Arielle Gallegos from the NYCUDL.

They collected feedback and released it here.

March 17 — NYCUDL Debate Staff Meets to Plan Summer Camp

NYCUDL plans debate camp in the Lakeland High School debate room.

March 16 — MS343

On Monday, the first day students were off of school in NYC (and they didn’t even know until Sunday that they didn’t have school until the next day), they started their own initiative to have debates on Discord, a free online text chat and video chat for gamers. The students recruited other debaters, judges, and even turned it into a class!




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