Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Debate Team at Rutgers University-Newark, a top contender

In just five years, the Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team has grown from fledgling status to an established team, well regarded among its nationally ranked peers.

The Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team unofficially began during the fall semester of 2008 when then-sophomores Chris Pinho and Kevin Cenac joined forces to win the junior varsity division of the Binghamton Debate Tournament at Binghamton University. An official debate team was launched during the 2009-2010 academic year.

With as many as eight debaters, the team has debated in tournaments hosted by Western Connecticut State University, United States Naval Academy, George Mason University, Monmouth University, and Binghamton University and has outranked many first-tier schools like Boston College, Columbia University, New York University, and Stanford University. Debaters range from freshmen to seniors with varying majors such as history, English, political science, criminal justice, and economics.

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team ventured into new territory and participated in the first of a series of public debates in open space called the Streetcar Debate Series. At issue? Whether the New York Islamic Cultural Center should be built near Ground Zero? Moderated by Mary Segers, professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark, freshman debater Carlos Astacio argued the affirmative while freshman debater Elijah Smith represented the negative.

The second Streetcar Debate Series encounter pitted Carlos Astacio and Zachary MacCord against Elijah Smith and Babatunde Odubekun over whether cyberbullying should be criminalized. Elizabeth Sloan-Power, Faculty of Arts and Sciences assistant professor of social work, served as moderator.