New Haven Urban Debate League (UDL)


Our Mission:

The New Haven Urban Debate League believes in the transformative qualities of public speaking and discussion that are inherent to debate, and is committed to nurturing these life skills in New Haven middle and high schools. Practicing consistent community outreach, UDL holds weekly after school coaching sessions at fourteen New Haven schools, and hosts three tournaments per semester that allow these students the chance to practice and demonstrate what they've learned in the classroom. UDL also coordinates with other debate leagues to allow students to travel within Connecticut to attend tournaments outside of New Haven. Above all else, UDL is committed to giving students a stage on which to present their ideas and be heard, and we believe that aim is in line with the Dwight Hall value of commitment to the greater community.

Our Activities:

Yale Summer Debate Program
Direct Service
Each summer, we host a debate camp for students to hone their debate skills and compete in one more tournament before the start of the school year. We typically host 60-70 campers and were pleased to be able to resume doing so in-person this summer (2022).

UDL local tournaments
Direct Service
Every month our debate league organizes a tournament for our students to participate in. These tournaments are completely NHUDL run and are internal to the schools that participate in NHUDL.

Advanced Debate Institute
Direct Service
We host a weekly Advanced Debate Institute for advanced debaters selected through an application process. These students receive personalized coaching and practice sessions led by our ADI Director. ADI is an additional debate coaching program for students outside of the NHPS district who would still like to participate in NHUDL tournaments and who still want to be coached by NHUDL. This program does have a small tuition fee; however, we provide financial aid for those who request it and we make sure that it is accessible to everyone interested.

UDL travel tournaments
Direct Service
NHUDL subsidizes travel tournaments so that our students can compete in advanced debate tournaments at other schools in different states. We chaperone trips and provide transportation to tournaments in New York, California, Canada, etc. for our students. This allows our students to practice their skills on the National Circuit of debate.

Weekly debate coaching
Direct Service
We offer weekly debate coaching sessions for hundreds of middle and high school students at 16 New Haven-area schools and counting. These coaching sessions are led by our volunteers and curricula are also designed internally to intertwine ongoing social, political, and economic issues with key debate skills and strategies such as refutation, organization, and research.

Student Leaders:

Owen Heaphy - Co-Coordinator/Co-President Eliza Spinna - Co-Coordinator/Co-President

About the Author