Vanderbilt University Debate Team to host intercollegiate debate about election processes and voter turnout

With consequential midterm elections less than one month away, the Vanderbilt University Debate Team will host an intercollegiate debate this weekend on how to improve U.S. election processes and boost voter turnout. 

Ten teams from six colleges and universities, including Vanderbilt, are expected to participate in the event on Saturday, Oct. 15, at The Commons Center Multipurpose Room on Vanderbilt’s campus. The event is being jointly sponsored by the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy and the Vanderbilt Department of Communication Studies.  

The debate will employ a “Schuman Challenge” format where each team composed of three to four undergraduates is allotted 10 minutes to present its proposals for improving elections and sparking voter participation based on the team’s independent research undertaken prior to arriving on campus. After introducing its proposal, each team can expect another 10 minutes of challenges and questions from a diverse panel of judges, including Vanderbilt faculty members, local politicos and Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy staff, with the top four teams advancing to a final round. 

In addition to the Vanderbilt Debate team, teams from the University of San Francisco, University of Vermont, Gallaudet University, Patrick Henry College and George Washington University are expected to participate. 

First-round presentations are slated to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, and the final round will begin at 5 p.m. Finalists will have the chance to sharpen their arguments based on the feedback received in the first round. This event is free and open to the public. 

Any Vanderbilt faculty interested in serving as a judge should contact Senior Lecturer and Director of Debate John Koch at