National Debate-in

Debates on the issues surrounding September 11th and its aftermath

University of Pittsburgh students to participate

On the Sunday afternoon of November 18 at 3:30 p.m. the Wake Forest University campus in Winston-Salem, NC, will be the site of an extraordinary event: "The National Debate-In" on the issues pertaining to September 11th and its aftermath. The top-ranked intercollegiate debate teams from across the United States are dedicating their intellectual, research, and rhetorical resources to public debates designed to answer the public's call for reasoned argument on issues including civil liberties, the causes of terrorism, diplomatic versus military solutions, arms control, "war" rhetoric, and more. A public audience will choose from a program of some 26 public debates, each focusing on a distinct topic.

Eight students from the University of Pittsburgh will be joining over 170 other debate teams from across the nation for the Debate-in. Members of the media are also welcome; previously journalists have made arrangements to travel with their local debate teams to tournaments of this kind.

The idea for the debates springs from the national intercollegiate debate community's observation that while the media churn out volumes of information, panels of experts weigh in with their opinions, and discussion forums are held, debates are a uniquely valuable vehicle for civic engagement. At a moment in history that demands the best of our democracy, it is essential that proposed answers to the questions raised by September 11th be subjected to careful, critical analysis.

In a crisis, when the stakes are so high, it is especially important to pursue exactly the sort of analysis that debate teaches. When we are dealing with lives, with enormous economic stakes, it is so important that there be open debate of alternatives. That is the best way of preventing tragic mistakes.

--Erwin Chemerinsky, Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics and Political Science at the University of Southern California School of Law.

If ever there is a time when critical thinking and debate should be especially valued, it’s in a time of crisis. I am tremendously encouraged by the fact that the best debate students in the U.S. are devoting their energies and resources to this project and that the public is being invited in as well.

--David Zarefsky, John Evans Professor of Speech and Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University.

For a complete slate of the debates, please visit the following Internet website:

University of Pittsburgh students scheduled to debate: Omri Ceren, Lisa Heller, Peter Klein, Joseph Koehle, Jason Lawrence, Denise Olczak, Tony Todero, Adam Webber.

For more information, please phone Gordon Mitchell at the

William Pitt Debating Union, 412-624-8531; or email