Source: 1903 Cal Yearbook
The first debating societies at Berkeley were established in 1898. Separated by class, the Freshman Debating Society and the Sophomore Debating Society each met every other Wednesday to practice extemporaneous speaking in California Hall. They also hosted an annual interclass debate between themselves.
Today, debating groups on campus are separated by format. Our organization, the Debate Society of Berkeley, competes in British Parliamentary (BP) debate as the original societies did. This format is practiced internationally, and our crowning tournament is the Worlds Universities Debating Championship. Our team also competes within the American Parliamentary Debate Association, which is the oldest intercollegiate debating association in the United States.
There are two other groups on campus dedicated to debating. Cal Debate competes in the policy format as regulated by the American Forensics Association. Their championship is known as the National Debate Tournament. Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley competes under the National Parliamentary Debate Association up to the NPDA Championship Tournament.
We are proud to continue the tradition of BP debate not only on campus, but around the world. Our teams have competed in the last three world championships in the Netherlands, Mexico, and South Africa; our executive members have taught in China, Korea, and Vietnam. At home, we coach and judge for local high schools, support Bay Area BP tournaments, and organize two competitions of our own.
Whether you are interested in debating near or far, we hope our club can support you!