The AU Debate Society was ranked No. 7 in the country, the highest ranking in the club’s history.
AU Debate Society ranked No. 14 in 2010 and No. 21 in 2009, according to Debate Society President James Schmitt.
Schmitt and Debate Society Vice President Stephanie Caravias competed together, ranking fourth in the nation for best team behind pairs from Boston University, Yale University and Harvard University, according to the American Parliamentary Debate Association, which ranks U.S. college debate teams.
Schmitt and Caravias won the University of Virginia tournament on April 1 and 2, defeating a Johns Hopkins University team. The pair also placed first in tournaments at the College of William and Mary and the University of Maryland-College Park earlier this year.
“It’s the best American [University Debate Society] has ever done in the history of our team,” Caravias said.
AU Debate Society receives $6,000 annually, the maximum amount an AU club can receive from the AU Club Council. Schmitt said the amount is significantly less than their competitors, such as Yale University and Harvard University. This low funding restricts the number of students the club can bring to tournaments to five or six students, while competing schools bring anywhere from seven to 16 students, according to Caravias.
“Student Activities and AUCC give us the maximum amount of funding, but even with that, we’re still considered one of the poorest teams on the entire circuit,” she said.
The Debate Society attends tournaments in the D.C. area almost every week to present its proposals on a selected topic and debate against other colleges. The team practices for hours, researching and preparing before practicing and critiquing one another’s performance.
Schmitt said the Debate Society’s success is a result of mastering the fundamental aspects of debate.
“We’re very fortunate to have a strong institutional foundation for the past five years,” Schmitt said. “The Debate Society’s members have been incredibly dedicated to making sure they’re doing well and building a strong base.”
Schmitt placed second for Speaker of the Year, with Caravias taking sixth place. College of Arts and Sciences freshman Kurt Girard placed fifth in the Novice Speaker of the Year category.
Caravias said the novices in the Debate Society are performing well this year, placing first in tournaments at Johns Hopkins University, Franklin and Marshall College and Princeton University.
“We debated novices a couple times a week and very frequently, I’m scared that they’re getting far better than me already,” Caravias said. “And they’ve only been debating for a year.”
Debate Society Vice President of Operations and novice debater Ki’tay Davidson said the club’s success is due to good chemistry.
“We get along as a team and the amount of dedication and willingness to critique each other is the result of our success,” Davidson said.
The Debate Society was founded at AU in 2002, but did not begin seriously competing until the 2006-2007 season, according to Schmitt.
“I think we represent a break out here for American since we’ve entered the top-tier schools of debate,” Schmitt said.