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Worth Debating

The Rutgers–Newark Debate Team, 25th nationwide last year, aims to build on its successes.

If you know any better, don’t get in an argument with members of the Rutgers–Newark Debate Team. Last season, the team finished 25th nationwide among 117 colleges and universities, according to the Cross Examination Debate Association, which ranks teams based on performances at regional and national tournaments. With 11 of 12 members returning this year, the team is in a good position to eclipse its successes over the past two years.

“A lot of our success is because of the support of the School of Public Affairs and Administration [SPAA],” says Chris Kozak, a graduate assistant at the school and coach of the debate team. “Many debate programs are just a campus club. SPAA has elevated the program to where we can compete against schools like Harvard, Dartmouth, and Cornell.”

Aside from the attributes of having a solid work ethic, a thirst for knowledge, and a dash of eccentricity, a successful debater, according to Kozak, knows how to play the cards he or she is dealt because “folding is not an option, so you have to bluff using technical strategies. You want to crush the weak and slime the strong.”

This year’s resolution—which will be debated throughout the school year in a format pitting two teams of two debaters against each other—will argue the issue of whether the United States government should reduce restrictions on and increase financial incentives for the production of different forms of energy. It’s an important topic that’s unlikely to be on the lips of the two presidential candidates as they campaign this fall.