Campus News

Georgia Debate Union finishes season ranked fifth in the nation

UGA’s Tucker Boyce of Alpharetta wins study tour to France at 2016 Lafayette Debates

Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Debate Union at the University of Georgia finished the 2015-16 season ranked fifth in the varsity rankings of the American Debate Association. These rankings are based on an institution’s success over the course of an entire season, which begins in mid-September and goes through the end of March.

The UGA team, with 24 members, reached the elimination rounds in nine of 14 tournaments over the course of the year, including winning the Vanderbilt tournament in October and placing second at the University of Miami tournament.

The top four ranked teams were from George Mason University, University of Michigan, Harvard University and Emory University. The Georgia Debate Union finished ahead of the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest University, Liberty University, Northwestern University and Georgetown University, rounding out the top 10, as well as the University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, University of California, Berkeley, Dartmouth College and the University of Minnesota.

“We have a talented, young group of motivated students who enjoyed tremendous success this season both regionally and nationally,” said Hays Watson, head debate coach and Georgia Debate Union alumnus. “The future of the Georgia Debate Union is bright, and I’m very excited to work with both our existing members as well as our incoming debaters next year and beyond.”

“The team draws upon traditional concepts of argument construction drawn from the disciplines of communication studies and philosophy, and squad members review and interpret social scientific research to formulate lines of argument to be used in the debates,” said Edward Panetta, professor and head of the department of communications studies. “The breadth of scholarly disciplines that debaters look into during the course of a year looking for a competitive advantage provides them with an unmatched undergraduate educational experience.”

In addition to their successful year as a team, student debaters continue to accrue individual accolades and honors.

The president of the Georgia Debate Union, junior Tucker Boyce of Alpharetta, recently won a study tour to France thanks to his outstanding performance at the 2016 Lafayette Debates at George Washington University, held on April 16-17 in Washington, D.C. The debate tournament and the study trip are sponsored by the French Embassy.

Tucker was recognized as one of the tournament’s top individual speakers, along with individuals from Stanford University, George Washington University, U.S. Naval Academy and Ecole de Guerre, the French military academy.

“I enjoyed discussing salient issues including counterterrorism policy and surveillance reforms at the Lafayette Debates in Washington,” Boyce said. “I’m excited to be traveling to Paris this summer to further these discussions and learn more from French policymakers on how they plan to respond to the unfortunate Paris attacks that occurred last year. As a student who has studied French for many years, it’s also a great opportunity to practice my language skills and engage with French people and culture.”

Tucker and his partner, Victoria Yonter from Springfield, Missouri, earned victories over Penn State University and Ecole de Guerre in the preliminary rounds of the tournament.

This is the third consecutive year teams from UGA have competed at the Lafayette Debates. This year’s topic revolved around whether democracies should increase domestic surveillance in light of rising terrorist threats. At this year’s tournament, 30 universities competed. More information is available at