For the first time in over two decades, the National Debate Tournament (NDT) will be held in the Northeast, and Binghamton University has been announced as its 2016 competition host.
The NDT, which drew 495 attendees to its 2014 tournament at Indiana University, is the oldest collegiate policy debate tournament in the country. The BU team was notified of the news while competing in Austin, Texas this past weekend.
“The team was thrilled beyond words,” said Maneo Choudhury, the vice president of finance of the team and a senior majoring in accounting. “It’s exciting to think that the entire policy debate community will be coming to our campus for the most prestigious tournament of the year.”
Since 1947, nearly 300 universities with major debate teams from coast to coast have competed in the tournament. The 2016 competition, which will be held from March 31 through April 4, is expected to bring in over 500 attendees.
“We’ve hosted national tournaments before, but never on this scale,” said Dhruv Sehgal, a junior majoring in English who has been on the team for three years. “It’s a really big deal, we’re really happy to be hosting.”
News that Binghamton would be hosting the NDT was followed by yet another opportunity: BU was also selected to host the Cross Examination Debate Association competition (CEDA) in 2016, which the University had previously hosted in 2011. CEDA is a smaller but also well-known policy debate tournament, according to Joseph Leeson-Schatz, the debate coach and director of BU’s team.
“To be able to host both of these at the same time is huge,” Leeson-Schatz said. “It will increase Binghamton’s reputation nationally.”
As two of the biggest names in debate tournament competitions, Leeson-Schatz said that hosting the events at the University would bring significant attention to the school as well as benefit the city’s economy.
“It brings big business that revitalizes local shops, because 500 people attend for 10 days, so there is a lot of money coming in,” he said.
In order to be eligible to host the tournament, university candidates must undergo a selection process that includes submitting a 40-page proposal detailing the budget and space requirements as well as evidence that campus facilities would allow the tournament to run efficiently. The host of the following year’s tournament is decided during NDT’s yearly board meeting held in February in Austin.
Hosting the event does not automatically qualify the BU team to compete. In fact, the top teams from each NDT-stated district must compete against one another, with winning teams moving on to compete in the NDT District Qualifier. BU’s team is currently undergoing preparation for the nationals in Stamford, Connecticut this weekend in order to participate in this year’s competition.
Binghamton University has qualified at least one team a year for the past five years, except for in 2012.
Leeson-Schatz said that he and the team are currently focusing on providing services and amenities to the attendees of the tournament, including negotiating hotel contracts and working with campus physical facilities. Appalachian Dining Hall and rooms in the Fine Arts Building are currently being considered for debating locations during the tournament.
“We’re making sure that it’s the best, that people will remember it positively,” Leeson-Schatz said.