[CUA Office of Public Affairs]           

March 31, 2004

CUA to Host 58th Annual National Debate Tournament, April 1-5, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Catholic University of America will host 51 colleges and universities from around the country April 1 through 5 for the 58th annual National Debate Tournament — the country’s top college-level debate competition. This year’s event marks the first time in the tournament’s history that it will be held in Washington.

The competition will draw 78 debating teams, which will vie for a silver trophy and the title of national champion. In a process similar to the NCAA basketball championship, debating teams will compete in a series of preliminary and elimination rounds until the last day of the tournament when two final teams will square off for the title. More than 500 debaters, coaches and debate scouts are expected at the tournament.

“Similar to the NCAA basketball tournament, the NDT is the crowning event of the debate year,” said Cate Palczewski, NDT committee chair and a communication studies professor and debate coach at the University of Northern Iowa. “Debaters spend thousands of hours preparing for the tournament. The top debate teams in the country go through a rigorous qualifying process. Qualifying is in itself an honor.”

Debate competition will take place at the CUA campus in Northeast Washington and at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington.

Registration and rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the tournament will take place at the Hyatt Regency April 1 and 2. Rounds 4 through 8 and the awards banquet will take place at CUA April 3 and 4. The banquet, where results of the first elimination round and prizes for individual speakers will be announced, is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. April 4 in the Great Room at CUA’s Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. The tournament will wrap up with the final elimination rounds at the Hyatt Regency on April 5.

At the tournament, debaters will argue for and against the federal government’s enactment of seven different proposals involving issues ranging from genetically modified foods to withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the removal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.

“For the teams that win the NDT, it is the pinnacle of their debate career,” said Palczewski. “To win the NDT means that they have beaten the best teams in the country, at their most prepared, on a topic that has been discussed all year.”

Sponsored by the American Forensic Association with support from the Ford Motor Company Fund, the tournament began at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1947. Organized and conducted by the academy for its first 20 years, the tournament moved from West Point in 1967 and has been hosted by a different school every year with the exception of four universities that have each hosted the event twice.

MEDIA: For more information about the debate, contact Katie Lee in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 or Ronald Bratt, director of CUA’s debate program, at 202-319-5447.

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Revised: 2/23/2004

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The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.