Debate Format

Yale Political Union debates follow a unique format in the parliamentary style in order to promote lively debate and fruitful discussion on important and controversial political topics. Our debates center around a resolution, which speeches either support or oppose.

Each debate begins with a 20-25 minute speech, where a prominent guest argues for one side of the resolution. Following this speech, the Speaker calls on students to ask a round of questions.

Students then give speeches, alternating between sides of the resolution. Student speeches are also followed by a brief questioning period. After about an hour and half, the debate comes to close and the guest gives closing remarks before a vote is taken on the resolution.

Our format strives to be lively and engaging. Students are encouraged to pound and hiss during speeches to indicate agreement and disagreement.

Debate Preparation

Preparation for debate starts at Speaker’s Dinners held regularly in the Slifka Center at 5:30 PM on Sundays, unless otherwise noted. Speaker’s Dinners serve as a way for students interested in speaking at the upcoming debate to present their speech ideas in an informal context, receiving feedback and guiding questions from the Speaker, Floor Leaders, and other attendees as they prepare their speeches.

Further speech guidance, resources on the topic, and feedback are offered by the Floor Leader of the Left, Alexandra Lanier, and the Floor Leader of the Right, Paul Han, with whom students interested in speaking can get in touch to go over their ideas.

Those interested in receiving weekly emails about the upcoming debate resolution and guest, questions to consider, and helpful resources should get in touch with the Floor Leaders.

The Speaker of the Yale Political Union, Rita Wang, is the chief officer who oversees all student contributions to Yale Political Union debates. The President of the Yale Political Union, Brian Cashin, is the chief executive officer of the Union and is thus responsible for the ultimate success of Yale Political Union debates and events and for the strength of the Yale Political Union as a whole.