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. In a new initiative last year, UDL took ten public school students on a fully subsidized trip to California to participate in a tournament, giving many of them their first opportunity to travel across the country. 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:

Advanced Debate Institute
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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.

Yale Summer Debate Program
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The Yale Summer Debate Program is Yale's largest debate program held during the summer, and is open to middle school and high school students. Most students are from New Haven and surrounding areas, though we have welcomed students from across the country and world in recent years.

This five-day program offers students a rigorous, rewarding, and relevant debate experience. YSDP is built on the philosophy that debate is not just an activity, but is a set of skills students can use to critically engage with the world, no matter their interests, helping them to become better speakers, students, and most importantly, thinkers.

We train in the parliamentary debate style, the most popular in the world (and the one used by top Connecticut tournaments like the Yale Invitational and Yale Osterweis tournaments). Our program is open to all students entering grades 6-12 of all levels; students with no prior experience to advanced debaters will find the program tailored but challenging. We work to accommodate all students, from middle school beginners to national debate champions.

Weekly Debate Coaching
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Yale students coach in 14 middle and high schools across New Haven every week.

UDL Travel Tournaments
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UDL takes students to travel tournaments in places such as California and New York to compete against students from across the nation

Advanced Debate Insitute
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A semester-long program for students who don't qualify for regular NHUDL programs. Once a week for a semester, students meet with an experienced Yale debate coach for 2 hours and go over key debating skills. Students learn parliamentary debate and compete at our 3 local tournaments hosted at Yale.

UDL local tournaments
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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.

UDL travel tournaments
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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
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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.

Yale Summer Debate Program
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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
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The New Haven Urban Debate League hosts monthly local tournaments for its students, where they compete against each other in parliamentary debate.

Student Leaders:

Alex Bavalsky - Coordinator/President Jacob Mansfield - Coordinator/President

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