The Willamette University Debate Union, established in 1856 as the Philomathean Society, is the oldest debate program in the Western United States. The Debate Union, a co-curricular program of the College of Arts and Sciences, provides opportunities for students to improve their skills in argumentation, advocacy, and public performance.

The Debate Union is designed to serve a variety of students: those who want to make debate a central part of their college experience and those who want it to be one aspect of a varied college education. Both groups can find a home in the Willamette University Debate Union. All Debate Union participants are expected to maintain good grades and to make regular progress toward their degrees. Any full-time student of the College who meets the minimum grade-point requirements is eligible to be a member of the Debate Union. The Willamette University Debate Union includes of some of the university's best and brightest students: students who maintain high grades while being active in debate, and other extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

To hear debaters in their own words talk about their debate experience, listen in to this Worldviews Wednesday interview with some of the team captains. 

Debate Union students participate in Worlds-Style debate.


by Cassidy Brennan, October 17, 2019
In the first two tournaments of the year, Willamette won speaker awards and a first-place trophy!

The 9th-annual Oregon State Penitentiary Debate Tournament, attended by Cassidy Brennan ('21), Natalie Lyell ('20), and Christopher Monheit ('20), is a unique opportunity to debate along-side and against inmates at OSP. Brennan and Lyell took home the first place trophy for this event. Additionally, the first big tournament of the college season in the PNW opened this weekend at the Lewis and Clark British Parliamentary Debate Tournament in Portland, attended by Natalie Lyell ('20), Jennifer Truong ('21), Grace De Lee ('21), Steven Lua ('23), and Jesse Peone Lippold ('21). Lua and Lippold placed 4th in the novice division, Lippold won 5th place novice speaker, and Lua won 10th place novice speaker. Let's congratulate debate!

Willamette University

Debate Union

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
Ruth Feingold

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