Every month, we host a larger debate or panel discussions. The debates consist of two teams, each made up of two debaters. One or two of the debaters are experts – professors, journalists, politicians, etc. - in the topic being discussed. These individuals engage with and debate alongside student debaters.  Past guests include John Sexton, Andrew Ross, Trevor Morrison, Sherry Glied, Mary Kissel, Lawrence Mead, James Traub, Herbert London, Dalton Conley, Bertell Ollman, and others.

The structure of the debate is as follows: 

Affirmative (Lead): 8 minute speech 

Negative (Lead): 8 minute speech 

Affirmative (Supporting): 8 minute speech

Negative (Supporting): 8 minute speech

-- 25 minute Q&A with audience* -- 

Affirmative (Lead): 4 minute close 

Negative (Lead): 4 minute close 

Audience members vote on the motion both before and after the debate. After the final speeches, the change of opinion from the pre-debate vote is calculated. The team that was able to sway the most votes is declared the winner. 

*There is no formal cross examination, but debaters will be invited to ask each other questions at the beginning of the Q&A period. 

Student debaters are invited to try-out to participate in our Exhibition Debates. If you are interested, email Jennifer Heiman at



We also hold more frequent, less formal debates. Anyone is welcome to participate in these. Topics for these debates will be introduced and decided upon by club members at meetings and via email. The final motion will be communicated in advance to allow those who wish to gather supplemental information an opportunity to do so. 

Before the debate, attendees will be asked to pick a side. We will then open the floor to public debate. Those wishing to speak will be recognised by the Chair and asked to give a brief statement to explain their position. Statements can be used to pose questions to previous speakers. Participants are allowed to research as the debate continues and supplement the conversation with evidence found online. Finally, we will once again ask participants to choose the side they agree with, and compare that to the original opinion of the group.

Due to time constraints, the Chair reserves the right to move on to the next speaker, in the interest of maximising participation and keeping the debate on track. Comments deemed violations of our Constitution and/or University policies will not be tolerated.