USC Debate Team

January 31, 2023
By AdmissionSight

USC Debate Team

The Trojan Debate Squad (TDS), official USC debate team and USC’s first chartered student organization, is devoted to teaching argumentation and analytic thinking skills to students through academic debate.

The TDS is one of the nation’s leading collegiate debate programs and focuses on competitive policy debate, research on the digital transition in debate and expanding debate in Los Angeles public schools.

In the lines that follow, we will offer you information about TDS, its host, and some of the squad’s community outreach initiatives. In addition, we will discuss a bonus debate topic: What are some of the most difficult social debate motions in recent years?

Meet Trojan Debate Squad

The USC Trojan Debate Squad is a one-of-a-kind learning environment that exemplifies the University of Southern California’s (USC) unwavering dedication to achieving the highest possible standards in the undergraduate educational experience.

When it was established in 1880 as the University of Southern California’s first licensed student club, the Debate Society was a reflection of the significance of public speaking as a necessary ability for young Trojans.

Talented students received training and competition preparation from the Trojan Debate team, which was back then backed by the College of Oratory.

For the last 130 plus years, the Trojan Debate Squad has been at the forefront of a movement to revolutionize the way critical thinking and advocacy are taught via the medium of debate.

Close up of a microphone in a debate competition.

The opportunity to participate in the team provides a one-of-a-kind learning experience for its members. The debaters for the Trojans do exceptionally well in the classroom, at tournaments, and in all of the projects.

Who is hosting TDS?

Who is in charge of hosting TDS, the official USC debate team? The Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California (USC) is proud to host the Trojan Debate Squad.

As one of the premier schools of communication and journalism in the world, Annenberg is committed to fostering critical thinking, informed discourse, and responsible citizenship. The Trojan Debate Squad is a perfect embodiment of these values, and Annenberg is proud to provide a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment for the team’s activities.

Today, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is home to the debate team, and its staff teaches argument as a necessary ability for today’s more information-rich world.

Students sitting on the chairs while talking.

The Trojan Debate Squad and the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism share a commitment to promoting informed discourse and responsible citizenship. The team’s debates and discussions help to foster critical thinking and to encourage students to engage with important social, political, and economic issues.

By hosting the Trojan Debate Squad, Annenberg is providing a valuable service to the USC community, and it is helping to promote a culture of informed discourse and responsible citizenship.

What are some of the activities of TDS?

What are some of the different things that TDS (the official USC debate team) does? The Trojan Debate Society is actively involved in a wide range of other activities, including local, regional, and national debate competitions, community outreach programs, and public speaking events.

TDS members are required to research and prepare for each debate, and they participate in practice debates and workshops to hone their skills.

The Society is also committed to promoting social justice and inclusivity in the debate community, and its members often volunteer as judges and coaches for high school debate tournaments.

Smiling students looking at something on a laptop.

It is also involved in a wide range of community outreach and public service activities, including its support for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League (LAMDL).

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League is a non-profit organization that provides high school students in the Los Angeles area with the opportunity to participate in debate competitions and to develop their critical thinking and public speaking skills.

The League is dedicated to promoting diversity, inclusivity, and social justice, and it provides a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment for its participants.

The Trojan Debate Society is proud to support the LAMDL by providing volunteer judges, coaches, and mentors for its events.

What are some of the most difficult social debate topics in recent years?

Which social issues have been the subject of the most contentious debates in the most recent years? Debating about social issues can be challenging, as these topics often elicit strong emotions and deeply held beliefs. Such is the reason why most teams, including USC debate team, pour so much effort into their countless practices.

Three students talking while sitting on a bench.

In recent years, there have been several debate motions that have proven to be particularly difficult to navigate. These include:

The debate over immigration: 

Immigration is a complex issue that has been the subject of intense debate in recent years, particularly in the United States.

Some of the key issues that are commonly discussed in debates over immigration include: border security, the economic impact of immigration, the impact of immigration on crime rates, the treatment of undocumented immigrants, and the rights and responsibilities of immigrants.

Border security: One of the main concerns in debates about immigration is the issue of border security, including questions about how to prevent illegal immigration and how to secure the border.

Economic impact: Immigration has both positive and negative effects on the economy, with some arguing that it provides a source of labor and innovation, while others argue that it puts a strain on social services and drives down wages.

Legal status: Debates about immigration often center around the question of what to do with the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the country, with some advocating for a pathway to citizenship, while others call for stricter enforcement and deportation.

Human rights: Debates about immigration often raise questions about the human rights of immigrants, including the rights of asylum seekers and the treatment of immigrants in detention centers.

Discrimination: There are also debates about how immigrants are treated in society, particularly how discrimination affects the immigrants and how to combat it.

To navigate this motion, it is important to:

  • Educate yourself about the various laws and regulations that are currently in place, as well as the statistics and research on the impact of those laws. USC debate team can’t stress enough how important it is to arm yourself with facts before entering into the debate.
  • Understand the different perspectives on the issue, including those of pro-immigration advocates and anti-immigration advocates, and be prepared to respectfully engage with and respond to the arguments of those with differing views.
  • Be prepared to suggest specific policy proposals and to address potential counterarguments and concerns.
  • Be aware of the constitutional and legal issues at play, and be able to speak to the relevant court cases and precedents.
  • Be familiar with the historical and cultural context of immigration and how it relates to the current debate.

The motion to redefine marriage: 

Attempting to reframe marriage as something other than what it already is brings up a number of significant social, legal, and constitutional problems. The following are some of the most important topics that are typically brought up in debates on the redefining marriage:

Traditional values: Opponents of redefining marriage argue that it undermines traditional values and the institution of marriage as it has been understood for centuries, and that it could lead to the erosion of the family unit.

Children’s rights: Some argue that children have a right to be raised by a mother and father, and that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples could harm children by denying them either a mother or a father.

Religious freedom: Debates about redefining marriage often center around the question of how to balance the rights of same-sex couples with the religious freedom of those who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

State vs Federal jurisdiction: The question of marriage is often seen in the context of state vs federal jurisdiction, with some arguing that states should have the right to define marriage as they see fit, while others argue that marriage should be a federally protected right.

Societal implications: The redefining of marriage could have broader societal implications, such as changing attitudes towards marriage and family structures.

It is important to be familiar with the various arguments on both sides of the issue, and to be able to present a well-reasoned and evidence-based argument for or against the motion. Because you will never know which side you’ll be during debate proper. Almost all teams, including USC debate team, always carry this kind of mentality.

Additionally, it is important to be able to address counterarguments and anticipate potential objections from the opposing side.

The motion to repeal hate speech laws: 

The repeal of hate speech laws poses a number of critical legal, constitutional, and sociological issues. Some of the primary problems that are frequently raised in disputes concerning hate speech legislation are as follows:

Freedom of speech: One of the main arguments in favor of repealing hate speech laws is that they infringe on the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Advocates argue that even offensive or hurtful speech should be protected under the First Amendment.

Harm to marginalized groups: Opponents of repealing hate speech laws argue that hate speech can cause harm to marginalized groups, such as minorities and marginalized communities.

They argue that hate speech can incite violence and discrimination, and that it should not be protected under the guise of freedom of speech.

Balancing competing interests: Debates about hate speech laws often center around the question of how to balance the right to freedom of speech with the need to protect marginalized groups from harm.

To navigate this motion, it is important to be familiar with the legal and constitutional considerations surrounding hate speech laws and freedom of speech.

Additionally, it is important to be able to present a well-reasoned argument that takes into account the competing interests at stake and the potential consequences of repeal.


Navigating difficult debate motions on social issues requires a solid understanding of the topic at hand, as well as the ability to present a clear and logical argument that takes into account both sides of the issue.

It is important to be well-informed, to anticipate counterarguments, and to be able to address potential objections from the opposing side. Additionally, it is important to approach the debate with an open mind and a willingness to consider different perspectives.

Experience top-notch debate with USC Debate

The Trojan Debate Squad, official USC debate team, is a vital and respected part of the USC community. The team’s dedication to excellence, community outreach, and commitment to social justice make it a valuable asset to the university.

The team members learn valuable skills, make lasting friendships, and have the opportunity to represent USC on a national level. Joining the Trojan Debate Squad is an opportunity for students to grow and develop, both as debaters and as individuals.

If getting into USC 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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