Competitive debate is an intellectual activity in which one person or two persons from a college or university engage in a logical and rhetorical exchange with another person or persons from another college of university over propositions concerning anything from economics and philosophy to popular culture and biology. At tournaments there will be as many as sixty colleges and upwards of a 250 individuals or teams representing those colleges that square off in a series of debates referred to as rounds. In this way students get to meet new people, test new ideas, and get feedback from judges who observe and evaluate those debates.

Reasoning well, speaking articulately, writing directly and passionately, comprehending first principles, and understanding moral and political exigencies are not skills required only of attorneys or politicians. They are required in all disciplines: theology, philosophy, mathematics, biology, chemistry, criminal justice, English, history, political science, etc. They are also important for being an excellent parishioner, citizen, and parent.

Practically, those who compete in debate usually attend better graduate schools and do better when they get there. Those not bound for graduate school usually find faster promotions in the private sector.

Anyone who is enrolled as a full-time student at Belmont Abbey College may join the Forensic Arts Society, the organization that houses debate activities here.

No. We welcome anyone interested, and often those without debate experience during their secondary education have tremendous competitive and intellectual success in college.

Nearly nothing. Students are asked to bring money for tips at restaurants and are responsible to bring funds for any snacks or other items they might want. The college pays entry fees, travel, room and food.

Not counting the weekends for travel, to begin gaining some competency in the activity will require ten hours per week. Debates will happen each day and then students are expected to conduct research on their own. Of course, the more a person works on this, the greater the success and the easier the activity becomes. Happily, however, the grounding from classes helps. Unlike other activities that require unique knowledge, debate requires students understand and focus the knowledge they have learned in class. Just being an excellent student or learning to be an excellent student will often reduce the workload for debate. The opposite is also true. The more proficient the individual becomes at debate, the less difficult certain projects will be for class.

See the Travel Schedule tab for more precise information.

No. Since, however, this is effectively a supplemental education that includes travel, and enrichment opportunity for students, the student effectively has a full-ride scholarship covering his/her participation in the Forensic Arts Society.