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Rutgers-Newark Debate Team Ends another Season with Historic Successes

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(l-r) Christopher Kozak, Willie Johnson, Virginia Ivy Kariuki, Zohaib Khan, Alex Landrum, Saide Beckford, David Asafu-Adjaye, Chaz Wyche, William Smith, Ryan Hemnarine, Christian Fernando Quiroz, Devane Murphy, Carlos Astacio, and Andres Monclut

The Rutgers University–Newark debate team concluded its 2018-19 season ranked 20th overall in the nation for its competitive successes nationally and regionally. It has been consistently ranked as one of the top-20 best intercollegiate debate programs in the country since 2014.

The team capped the season with an appearance in the 2019 Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) national championship tournament at California State University, Long Beach, April 2-9. Three teams represented Rutgers-Newark in the tournament: sophomore David Asafu-Adjaye and freshman Ryan Hemnarine, both of Newark, New Jersey; seniors Christian Fernando Quiorz and Chaz Wyche, both of Newark, New Jersey; and freshman Alex Landrum of Wylie, Texas, and senior Virginia Ivy Kariuki of Avenel, New Jersey.

All three teams performed well enough to advance to the elimination debates. Quiorz and Wyche made it to the octofinals, and Asafu-Adjaye and Hemnarine joined the Elite-8 in the quarterfinals. Individually, four Rutgers-Newark debaters placed in the top 30 of more than 200 of the best speakers in the country. Hemnarine took seventh place, Asafu-Adjaye placed ninth, Wyche ranked 15th, and Quiroz garnered 27th.

CEDA awarded Wyche and Kariuki its highly selective All American award. The award recognizes a maximum of 30 CEDA debaters who represent the best of intercollegiate debate nationally as evidenced by their competitive and academic successes, ethical conduct, and significant contributions to their squads.

Kakurai also walked away with CEDA’s Outstanding New Competitor Award, which is given to a person whose participation in interscholastic debate began in college and who competed in the CEDA championship tournament during his or her inaugural year of intercollegiate debate. This is the first time in CEDA’s history that it has bestowed the Outstanding New Competitor Award on a Rutgers debater.

In recognition of its overall performance for the entire debate season, CEDA ranked Rutgers-Newark’s debate team second in the nation for its public debate initiatives and community impact. Throughout the season, the team hosted collegiate, high school, and middle school tournaments. Rutgers University-Newark served as the site of the first Brick City Round Robin in January where the team of Wyche and Asafu-Adjaye made it to the semi-finals (or final four) of the tournament. The top 25 teams in the nation received an invitation to the competition.

Rutgers-Newark also hosted the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition in February. Graduate students from 20 universities participated in the event. Newark native Devane Murphy, a member of the Rutgers-Newark debate team that won both the CEDA and National Debate Tournament (NDT) national championships in 2017, currently is enrolled in the master of public administration program at the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration and competed on behalf of Rutgers-Newark at the NASPAA-Batten Competition.

Other notable achievements this year for the debate team included a tournament victory by Asafu-Adjaye and Hemnarine at California State University, Fullerton, and a Northeast Regional Championship win by Landrum and Kariuki at the New School in New York City. Landrum also received the third place speaker award at the Northeast Regional Championship. 

Before the CEDA tournament, the debate team traveled to the 73rd NDT at the University of Minnesota, March 21-26. NDT is an elite invitation-only tournament where only the nation’s best 78 teams are allowed to participate. For the fourth time, Rutgers qualified multiple teams – Asafu-Adjaye and Hemnarine, and Quiorz and Wyche. Seniors Quiorz and Wyche went an even 4-4 while the more junior team of Asafu-Adjaye and Hemnarine went 5-3 and advanced to the double-octofinals against Wake Forest University [video].

“The accomplishments we achieve every year are due to the handwork, commitment, and teamwork of everyone involved in the program,” said Christopher Kozak, director of debate at the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration. “We’re called the debate team and not the debate club for a reason.”

Watch this video to learn more about the Rutgers-Newark debate team.