Princeton Debate Team

January 25, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Princeton Debate Team

The Princeton Debate Panel is a highly competitive and accomplished group of debaters who represent Princeton University in intercollegiate debates across the United States.

Founded in 1875, this official Princeton debate team has a long and storied history of excellence in both parliamentary and policy debate formats.

In the lines that follow, we will offer you information about PDP, how they fare in parliamentary and policy debates, how to join the panel, and some notable alumni. In addition, we will discuss a bonus debate topic: How do you structure a university debate?

Meet Princeton Debate Panel

The Princeton Debate Panel (PDP) is the only debating organization at Princeton that participates in intercollegiate competition. The team competes in the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) as well as the British Parliamentary Debate Association (BP).

They have had an incredible amount of success both nationally and internationally, including winning the national championship in 2016 and coming in finals at the world championship in 2018.

On campus, members of the organization encourage one another in their various activities, participate in a wide range of community-building tradition on an annual basis, and act as a personal and professional support network. The PDP is another example of a tightly knit social group.

Young woman walking in the stairs of a building.

The group gets together for meals and other social gatherings on campus and takes part in intramural sports and other campus activities. They are frequently thought of as more of a family.

The individuals that sign up to be a part of the team come from a wide range of different backgrounds. Some of the members of the team have won several awards in high school debate, while others are completely new to the activity.

After receiving their degrees, the graduates have gone on to achieve success in a wide variety of industries, including business, technology, and others. They continue to maintain ties to PDP and the greater Princeton community, and they often come back to the university to serve as judges, debaters, or advisors at a variety of campus and club activities.

What are the differences between parliamentary and policy debates?

What are some of the key distinctions between parliamentary and policy debates? Parliamentary and policy debates are two of the most common formats of intercollegiate debate in the United States. While they share some similarities, there are also some important differences between the two formats.

Understanding these differences is crucial for debaters, like the members of the Princeton debate team who want to excel in both parliamentary and policy debate formats.

Parliamentary debate

Parliamentary debate is a fast-paced, improvisational format in which teams of two debaters compete against each other. The topic for each round is announced just 15 minutes before the debate begins, and debaters must be able to think on their feet and make convincing arguments on a wide range of issues.

In parliamentary debate, debaters are not given a specific resolution to argue for or against, instead, they have to create arguments based on the topic given. This format is known for its emphasis on quick thinking, public speaking skills, and the ability to adapt to new topics and perspectives.

Policy debate

Policy debate, on the other hand, is a more technical and research-intensive format. In a policy debate, teams of two debaters argue for and against a specific resolution that is announced in advance.

Policy debate requires debaters to have a deep understanding of the resolution and be able to cite evidence and statistics to support their arguments. Policy debaters are required to do extensive research and be well-versed in the literature of the topic they are debating, often preparing months in advance. This format is known for its emphasis on research, logical reasoning, and evidence-based arguments.

How do Princeton Debate Panel members fare in each format?

How successful are the members of PDP, the official Princeton debate team, in each of the mentioned formats? The Princeton Debate Team is highly accomplished in both parliamentary and policy debate formats. The team’s diverse membership allows it to approach debates from a variety of angles and to draw on a wide range of knowledge and experience.

Female student looking intently on her laptop.

In parliamentary debate, the PDP is known for its quick thinking, ability to adapt to new topics, and excellent public speaking skills. Members of the team are able to create arguments in a short amount of time, and they are able to deliver them persuasively and confidently.

In policy debate, the PDP is known for its technical expertise, research skills, and logical reasoning. The team members are able to present evidence-based arguments that are well-researched and well-supported.

They are able to draw on a wide range of knowledge and experience, and they are able to cite evidence and statistics to support their arguments. The team’s coaches are dedicated to helping the team members to reach their full potential and to excel in the competitive world of intercollegiate debate.

How to join the Princeton Debate Panel?

How does one become a member of the Princeton Debate Panel, the official Princeton debate team? During the academic year 2022-2023, tryouts will take place both in the fall and in the spring. The autumn season’s tryouts will get underway on September 9th. You will find listed below the pre-tryout activities that will assist you get a better idea of what it will be like to debate with PDP.

Important dates to remember:

  1. Demo Debate: Wednesday, 9/7, from 8-10PM.
  2. 1st Pre-Tryout Prep Session: Wednesday, 9/7, from 10PM-12AM
  3. 2nd Pre-Tryout Prep Session: Saturday, 9/10, from 12:30-4:30 PM.

The Senate Chamber at Whig Hall will serve as the location for all of the activities. You are not required to attend, but it is strongly recommended that you do so.

Who are some of the famous Princeton Debate Panel alumni?

Who are some of the most well-known past members of the Princeton Debate Panel, the official Princeton debate team? Princeton University has a long and proud history of producing some of the most accomplished and influential debaters in the United States.

Students lounging in the stairs.

The Princeton Debate Team has produced a number of famous alumni who have gone on to achieve great success in a wide range of fields. Here are just a few examples of the many accomplished alumni of PDP:

Samuel Alito

Samuel Alito, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was a member of the Princeton Debate Team in the 1970s. He has credited his experience on the team with helping him develop the analytical skills and the ability to think critically that have been essential to his success as a judge.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz, a former U.S Senator from Texas and a former candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, was a member of the Princeton Debate Team in the 1990s.

He has stated that his time spent on the team was crucial in helping him acquire the abilities of critical thinking and persuasive argumentation that have been necessary for his success as a politician.

During his time at Princeton, Cruz was a top-ranked debater on a national level and was widely regarded as one of the most accomplished debaters of his generation.

He has often cited the experience of having to defend positions that he personally disagreed with as formative in his ability to advocate for positions he believes in.

Rajiv Vinnakota

Rajiv Vinnakota, is the co-founder and executive director of the SEED Foundation, which operates the SEED Public Charter Schools. Vinnakota was a member of the Princeton Debate Team in the 1990s.

He has stated that his time on the team helped him acquire the capacity to plan strategically and make clear, convincing arguments, both of which he attributes to his success as an education reformer.

Vinnakota has been credited with creating one of the most innovative and successful models for urban public education in the United States.

Jason Goldman

Jason Goldman, is the co-founder and CEO of The Dodo, a digital media company that focuses on animal-related content. Goldman was a member of the Princeton Debate Team in the 2000s.

He has said that being on the team helped him develop the critical thinking and persuasion skills that have been key to his success as a business leader.

Goldman has led The Dodo to become one of the most successful and profitable digital media companies in the United States.

Bonus topic: How do you structure a debate?

How should a debate at a university, like that of Princeton debate team, be organized? In a typical formal debate, there are three teams involved: one that supports a resolution (the affirmative or government team), one that opposes the resolution (the opposing team), and those who judge the quality of the evidence and arguments presented as well as the performance of the participants in the debate.

The teams that are for and against the proposition typically have three members each, and the judgment may be done by the instructor, a select number of students, or the entire class.

In addition to the three distinct groups, there may also be an audience consisting of members of the class who are not taking part in the official debate. It has been decided to draft a particular resolution, and ground guidelines for the debate have been laid forth.

Debate Preparation:

  • Create the resolution that will be debated.
  • Form the groups.
  • Establish the debate’s rules, including timeframes.
  • Prepare logical arguments by researching the issue.
  • Collect information and examples to back up your argument.
  • Anticipate and prepare rebuttals to counter arguments.
  • Team members organize the order and content of debate speeches.
  • Make room for debate.
  • Establish any expectations for evaluating the argument.

Post-debate Discussion and Assessment

Allow for some time for discussion and debriefing once the official portion of the debate has concluded. The audience should be given the opportunity to ask questions, as well as the chance to express their own ideas, thoughts, and perspectives on the arguments that are being presented.

It’s possible that members of both debate teams may want to evaluate their performance and solicit comments from the judges and audience members, including the instructor.

Experience top-notch debate with Princeton Debate Panel

The Princeton Debate Team has a long and storied history of excellence in both parliamentary and policy debate formats, and it will continue to set the standard for excellence in intercollegiate debate for many years to come.

If getting into Princeton is one of your goals, you should seek the guidance of professionals who work in the subject of college admissions, such as those who work at AdmissionSight, in order to increase your chances of being accepted there.

AdmissionSight has become the most trusted name in the field of college admissions advice as a result of its more than a decade of expertise assisting students just like you in gaining admission to the colleges of their first and second preferences.

Please get in touch with us as soon as you can so that we can schedule an initial consultation that will be provided free of charge.


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