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RU-N Debate Team Wins UMKC Tournament

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The Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) debate team starts the 2015-16 season ranked number one in the country among more than 75 collegiate policy debate programs after its victory at the Baby Jo Memorial Debate Tournament. On a 2-1 decision during the final round against a team from the University of California, Berkeley, the duo of Nicole Nave (a junior from Ferguson, Missouri, who currently resides in South Orange, New Jersey) and Devane Murphy (a junior from Newark, New Jersey) garnered RU-N’s first championship honor at a national level. Nave and Murphy also received top-20 speaker awards, sixth and 11th place, respectively.

"The powerful logic and compelling presentations of our Rutgers University-Newark debaters are clear evidence of their potential to become lifelong intellectual leaders in the public sphere. This extraordinary team will honor our investments in their education many times over for many years," states Marc Holzer, founding dean of Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA).

The Baby Jo Memorial Debate Tournament, hosted at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, September 11-15, is the first stop of many on the road to the National Debate Tournament at Binghamton University in March 2016. The season-opener, comprised of 82 entries, featured varsity debaters from Arizona State University, Baylor University, Gonzaga University, University of Iowa, University of Kansas, and University of Texas, among many others. Two teams represented RU-N -- Nave and Murphy, and Kevon Haughton (a senior from Newark, New Jersey) and Christian Quiroz (a freshman from Newark, New Jersey).

Now in its seventh year, the RU-N debate team is the product of a partnership among the RU-N Office of the Chancellor, SPAA, and the Jersey Urban Debate League, now known as the Newark Debate Academy. The team’s roster includes novice and seasoned debaters pursuing undergraduate studies in various disciplines, and many are Newark natives.

“RU-N has built a phenomenally successful debate program largely by cultivating talent from right here in Newark,” Chancellor Nancy Cantor points out. “This speaks volumes about the incredible wellspring of talent to be tapped here, which, in turn, attracts more talent from well beyond Newark and New Jersey. We are thrilled with the team’s success and even more so encouraged by what all of that says about our partnership with Newark schools and the future of this remarkable city.”

In late September, the debate team will host the Rutgers Northeast Regional Opener where 80 pairs of debaters are expected to compete and 50 individuals will serve as judges. This will be the fifth collegiate debate tournament held at RU-N. Also at the end of September, Nave and Murphy will participate in the 19th Annual Val Browning Round Robin at Weber State University, an exclusive tournament open to debaters by invitation only and believed to be the oldest collegiate policy debate round robin in the western United States.

"The continual success of our debate team is testament to the hard work, commitment, and scholarship of our students. I see many more accomplishments to come if we remain diligent," notes Christopher Kozak, RU-N’s director of debate and coach of the team.

For more information about the debate team, contact Kozak at