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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

There’s no debate: BADASS ranks third in nation

Published: March 9, 2012
Section: Front Page, News

The Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society (B.A.D.A.S.S.) is now ranked third in the nation, following victories at the Providence College and University of Connecticut tournaments last weekend. Brandeis trails behind only Columbia and Yale in the national rankings.

At the Providence College tournament last weekend, B.A.D.A.S.S. prevailed with wins from Keith Barry ’13 and Michael Perloff ’12. Richard Weisbach ’13, Brendan Fradkin ’12 and Russell Leibowitz ’14 reached the quarterfinals, earning Brandeis’ debate club its third place national ranking.

At the University of Connecticut tournament on Feb. 24-25, Barry and Leibowitz teamed to win first place in the final round of the competition. Ranked fourth, Leibowitz and Barry, also won the Harvard Championship and Syracuse Invitational earlier this year.

Individually, B.A.D.A.S.S. placed three team members among the top 20 competitors in the country, including Leibowitz in 10th place, Barry in 15th and Fradkin in 20th.

The club meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the school year, B.A.D.A.S.S. Director of Public Relations David Altman ’15 said.

“One of the nice things is that there’s a lot of variation. Some people may only debate a few times a year and practice only once or twice before they compete. Other people practice every day. But it is definitely a commitment nonetheless,” Altman said. “We have a Google Doc that is being updated constantly where we put our rounds up.”

The club is entirely student-run but is under the guidance of Coach Ryan Cross. Altman says that Cross will give feedback and watch rounds but instructing and mentoring is peer-led.

Brandeis is part of the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA), which fosters an “off-topic, extemporaneous form of competitive debate which stresses rigorous argumentation, logical analysis, quick thinking, breadth of knowledge, and rhetorical ability over preparation of evidence.” The APDA consists of more than 50 of the nation’s top universities and colleges, including all Ivy League institutions.

In each round, teams of two students compete for 45 minutes. Each side delivers two constructive speeches and one rebuttal.

“It’s a complicated system,” Altman said. “But I have no doubts that Brandeis will send four to five different teams to nationals, if not more.”

“Brandeis has built one of the strongest novice (first-year debater) classes in the country,” Altman said in a press release this week.

Altman and Brad Burns ’15 won the novice finals at the UConn tournament. So far this year, B.A.D.A.S.S. received 27 novice speaker awards in addition to 23 novice team awards.

This spring B.A.D.A.S.S. will participate in five additional regular season tournaments before heading to Nationals in April. To qualify for nationals, B.A.D.A.S.S. must earn 14 qualification points.

This weekend, B.A.D.A.S.S. will travel to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, to compete against 15 to 20 other East Coast schools.