University to Host Boston Debate League Championship

2/19/2010

Suffolk University will host the Boston Debate League Championship, bringing together the top two Boston Public high school debate teams, on Sunday, March 6, in Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St., Boston. 

"Academic debate is one of the most important of educational activities, as it helps students develop a critical, keen mind, research skills and excellence in speaking" said Robert Rosenthal, chair of Suffolk University’s Department of Communication and Journalism, which is sponsoring the event in conjunction with the Boston Debate League. "Working with the Boston Debate League to nurture this intellectual tradition in the Boston Public Schools is central to the core values of the University."

The Boston Debate League, or BDL, is a nonprofit organization that has partnered with the Boston Public Schools to develop after-school debate and mentorship programs serving traditionally underrepresented student populations.  The League organizes six citywide debate tournaments held throughout the academic year. Students learn to argue for and against public policy proposals on issues ranging from science and economics to politics and government.

For many students, tournaments are opportunities to connect intellectually with their peers and to have their ideas about important issues considered seriously by adults, according to BDL Executive Director Steve Stein, who said that “such an experience has a powerful effect on a students’ self-esteem and continued interest in education.”

A University of Missouri study found that, after one year in an urban debate program, debaters attended school more frequently, improved their GPAs by 10 percent, decreased risky behaviors and achieved a 25 percent increase in literacy scores relative to a non-debating control group.   “It presents debate in a variety of ways so as to reach a broad spectrum of students, from those already highly achieving to those who are off track academically and at risk of dropping out,” said Stein.

BDL business and community supporters will be on hand for the debate championship, which includes a reception and presentations at 12:30 p.m., followed by the City Championship Finals at 2:15. 

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