Debate Union Earns High Marks in Season Opener

University of Rochester Debate – The University of Rochester Debate Union started the year off with a bang.  The team traveled to Binghamton University for the East Region Season Opener last weekend. Half of Rochester’s 12 teams advanced to elimination debates.

The U of R’s top performance was turned in by the veteran team of Alyssa Schwartz (Junior) and Vijay Kasschau (Senior). Schwartz and Kasschau were a nearly perfect in preliminary debates, finishing with a record of 5 wins and 1 loss. They advanced through two elimination rounds when they finally lost on a split decision to the City University of New York. In addition to taking home the third place trophy, Kasschau was named the tournament’s 4th best speaker and Schwartz was 2nd speaker.  Freshman Zach Taylor was also honored for his superior speaking, taking home the 8th place trophy in the Junior Varsity Division.

Director of Forensics, Ken Johnson, summed up the Binghamton opener by stating, “This was one of our best first tournaments in a couple of years. Everybody won debates. We clearly have lots of work in front of us, but it is nice to have early success.”

Even though the debate season is underway, there is still plenty of time for students to join the team.  To join, students simply need to attend a debate meeting in Morey 100 at 7:00pm on Monday or Thursday.  They can also email the Director of Forensics at No experience is required to be on the debate team – it is open to every undergraduate at the University of Rochester.

The team has a busy fall semester, with tournaments at Toronto, West Point, Harvard, and Vermont on the schedule, available here.

Rochester Teams with Awards:


Nina Datlof (Sophmore) & Alap Patel(Freshman) (9th)

Novice Policy:

Cody Monday (Soph)/Swing (17th)

Junior Varsity Policy:

Joshua Rose (Fresh) & Zachary Taylor (Fresh) (9th)

Varsity Policy:

Vinit Akolkar (Junior) & George Weddington (Senior) (5th)
Ben Batha (Junior) & Kevin Diamond (Senior) (5th)
Vijay Kasschau (Senior) & Alyssa Schwartz (Junior) (3rd)

Article courtesy of Ken Johnson, director of Forensics and lecturer in the Department of English. The team photo, taken in spring 2011, also is courtesy of Ken Johnson.