Ratified 2013. Last amended March 2020.


I. Purpose

The purpose of the United States Universities Debate Association (USUDA) shall be to facilitate and promote the development of the British Parliamentary style of debate at the collegiate level in the United States. To that end, the USUDA shall annually sanction an open national championship tournament, to be called the US Universities Debating Championship (USUDC).

II. Structure

A. Membership

1. Any American college or university may declare itself a member of the USUDA by filling out and submitting the membership form on the “Membership” page of the USUDA website. The declaration of membership must be made by the person authorized to represent the debating club at the institution in question, or by a surrogate designated by said authority and affiliated with the same institution.

2. Member institutions must renew their USUDA membership annually. Once per year a member of the Advisory Council will send a renewal email to current USUDA members. Any institution that fails to respond to the renewal email within 7 days will be removed from the USUDA membership. An institution can become a member at any time or can choose to withdraw from the membership at any time, using the process outlined in II.A.1 of this document.

3. In cases of disagreement about who the authorized representative is, the USUDA shall encourage the disputants to resolve the disagreement themselves. If no resolution is reached, the USUDA advisory council shall serve as arbitrator, and the body of the whole shall hear and rule on any appeals.

B. Advisory Council

1. The USUDA shall have an advisory council, with terms beginning at the conclusion of the USUDC each year and extending until the conclusion of the subsequent USUDC.

2. Advisory council membership shall be established by a candidate’s volunteering for a specific position in the appropriate forum thread prior to the opening of the USUDC.

3. In the event that multiple candidates volunteer for a single position, they shall be strongly encouraged to work together. In the event that they refuse, the outgoing advisory council shall organize an online vote, to be completed before the conclusion of the USUDC.

4. The advisory council shall consist of the following positions: Bid Coordinator, Parliamentarian,  Education Director, and Public Relations Coordinator.

a. Bid Coordinator(s) – This individual or group shall solicit bids for future USUDCs from appropriate institutions, shall ensure that potential hosts have the necessary information about how to bid, shall inform potential hosts about the body’s expectations and desires with regard to bid form, and shall facilitate the distribution of bid information over the internet to the body.

b. Parliamentarian(s) – This individual or group shall organize and oversee voting procedures of all forms whenever required, shall keep minutes on any and all in-person meetings, shall prepare and distribute said minutes to the body in a timely fashion, shall maintain public and transparent archives of all decisions and vote counts online, and shall hear appeals in all forms from any member of the body on any issue that arises relating to voting.

c. Education Director(s) – This individual or group shall collect and archive voluntary contributions of pedagogical material related to debate in the British Parliamentary format (e.g. classroom exercises, drills, etc.), shall make such archives available to any and all American institutions that are interested in the British Parliamentary debating format, and shall answer emails seeking assistance from new directors and programs.

d. Public Relations Coordinator(s) – This individual or group shall maintain a website, calendar, and forum for the USUDA and shall communicate with relevant local and national media regarding USUDA competitions when the body sees fit.

5. The members of the advisory council shall, when they see fit, be free to form ad hoc working committees to help them in the completion of their duties.

III. Procedures

A. Bids for the USUDC

1. Bids for USUDC shall be made one year in advance.

2. Each year, the bid coordinator(s) shall establish and thoroughly publicize a timeline for the bidding process that both gives potential hosts ample time to prepare and promote their bids and that initiates the application process early enough to allow for thorough discussion and debate of the bids prior to the current year’s USUDC. That bid should, at a minimum, include the following:

a. Information regarding team cap, registration fee estimate, accommodation and travel arrangements, meal plans, and tentative schedule.

b. Details on how the adjudication core would be selected, including but not limited to the appointment of Chief Adjudicator and Deputy Chief Adjudicators.

3. At a minimum, the application process shall be closed and all submitted bids shall be published online no less that two weeks prior to the start of the current year’s USUDC.

4. In the event that no bids are submitted to the bid coordinator(s) before the established deadline, the bid coordinator(s) will be responsible for informing the body and developing a course of action.

5. In the event that only one bid is submitted to the bid coordinator(s) before the established deadline, that bid must still be brought before the membership to stand for a vote. In the event that it fails, the body shall either work with the bid to resolve the issues that led to to its defeat or shall renew solicitation of bids.

6. In the event that more than one bid is submitted to the bid coordinator(s) before the established deadline, the voting procedures outlined in III.B of this document shall be used to determine the host-designate.

7. In addition, when at least one bid has been submitted, the host of the current year’s USUDC shall organize a forum at which members of the USUDA shall hear formal presentations from each applicant and shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the bid organizers. This forum shall be open to all, not just institutional representatives, and shall be held at a time when each institution’s voting representative is able to attend.

B. Voting

1. All matters requiring a vote shall be put to the body of the USUDA as a whole.  Voting for USUDC bids will also be open to all participant institutions in the current USUDC where the membership is voting on USUDC bids.

2. The period for voting shall be of sufficient length to allow the participation of as many members of the body as is feasible.

3. The parliamentarian(s) shall be responsible for informing the body and all eligible voting institutions, at the earliest possible occasion, of an impending vote.

4. Voting

a. In-person Voting – When the membership meets in a physical location, one third of the current membership or 20 current members, whichever comes first, constitutes a quorum.

b. Electronic Voting – In the instance when an electronic vote is taken, all votes shall be submitted to the parliamentarian(s) in secret, but shall be published, along with the results, as a whole at the close of the voting process. This will allow for transparency while inhibiting strategic voting.

i.  Votes shall be conducted by email, or other appropriate form of communication, with institutional representatives presenting the parliamentarian(s) a clear statement of their desired vote before the established deadline.

ii.  When voting takes place online, voting through a proxy institution shall not be permitted.  However, voting by a clearly designated surrogate affiliated with the voting institution shall be permitted in the event that the institution’s normal representative is unable to participate.

iii.  So long as the above procedures governing the structure and publicization of the vote are followed, no quorum shall be required, and nonvoting members in good standing shall be treated as having abstained.

5. Each institution in good standing shall be entitled to a single vote in each round of voting. An institution shall be considered as in good standing so long as it has (1) fulfilled the self-identification requirement outlined in section II.A.1 of this document and (2) has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the advisory council that it has competed in at least one tournament in the British Parliamentary format, or equivalent, in the calendar year prior to the vote in question.  Alternately, any non-member institution participating in a vote for a USUDC bid shall be considered in good standing if that institution has teams competing in the current USUDC at which a vote is taking place.

6. Prior to any vote, the parliamentarian(s) shall prepare a list of institutions in good standing, allowing enough time for any appeals that may arise.

7. In cases where only two alternatives are before the body, the alternative that receives a polarity of votes shall be sanctioned by the body.

8. In cases where more than two alternatives are before the body, the parliamentarian(s) shall set up an instant runoff vote (IRV).

C. Amendments

1. With the exception of sections III.C and IV, all sections of this document shall be amendable.

2. Any affiliate of any member institution shall be eligible to offer an amendment to this document, but only those that receive at least two seconds will be brought to a general vote.

3. After an appropriate discussion period, the parliamentarian(s) shall organize a vote on the amendment pursuant with the procedures laid out in section III.B of this document.

D. Ratification

This document was ratified and the USUDA established when 22 votes – representing a majority of the institutions which attended the 2013 USUDC – were cast in favor of ratification. The USUDA Constitution was ratified on October 20, 2013.

IV. Forbidden activities

1. The USUDA shall not establish, sponsor, endorse, celebrate, or formally acknowledge any sweepstakes or point accumulation contests whatsoever.

2. The USUDA shall not create, distribute, vote upon, endorse, or formally acknowledge any awards, accolades, or tributes to anyone, except as part of the normal competitive processes of the USUDC (e.g. speaker awards, champion, runner-up, and finalist awards, judge awards linked to quantitative metrics).

3. The USUDA shall neither restrict participation in the USUDC for reasons other than capacity nor sanction any other limited-participation tournament.

4. If at any point the USUDA votes to do any of the things forbidden by IV.1-3, it shall be considered as having voted to dissolve itself.

Appendix I – Rules and Structure of the Championship

A. Format

1. The format of debate at the Championship shall be British Parliamentary.

2. The rules of the format shall be those laid out in the relevant sections of the most recent version of the Constitution of the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC).

3. The adjudication core of the current round shall have authority over all rule controversies and related matters on which the WUDC Constitution is overly vague, ambiguous, or silent.

B. Eligibility

1. Any current, full-time, degree-seeking student at an accredited American institution of higher education shall be eligible to compete at the Championship.

2. A student shall be regarded as current if enrolled on the last day of classes prior to the round.

3. Any student fulfilling the criteria in B.1 but at a non-American institution shall be eligible to compete, but not to break to elimination rounds.

4. Individual eligibility shall be capped at five tournaments.

5. Because of the cancellation of the 2020 USUDC at the University of Chicago, any student who fulfilled the criteria in B.1 during the spring of 2020 but who graduated in the spring or summer of 2020 shall be eligible to compete at the USUDC in fall 2020.

C. Novices

1. A novice shall be defined as any student in their first year of collegiate debate, regardless of format.

D. Number of Rounds

1. The number of preliminary rounds at the championship shall be six or eight, at the discretion of the convener(s).

2. At the conclusion of the six or eight preliminary rounds, teams shall be ranked in consecutive order (from highest to lowest) as follows:

  • Total aggregate team points accumulated by the team; and
  • Where teams have an equal number of aggregate team points, on the basis of aggregate speaker scores accumulated by the team; and
  •  Where this is also equal, on a count-back of the number of times that each team has ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd, with a team ranking higher if it has been ranked 1st more often, and so on; and
  • Where the teams still cannot be distinguished, by drawing lots.

3. The number of elimination rounds at the championship shall be four, with two teams advancing from each elimination round.

4. The first elimination round shall be an octo-final consisting of the top 32 teams or a partial-octo-final consisting of the top 24 teams, at the discretion of the adjudication core and the convener.

5. In the event that one or more members of a team selected to advance from an elimination round is unable to complete, the adjudication panel for that round shall select an additional team from that round to advance.

E. Tabulation

1. The tabulation team at the USUDC will assign code names to all teams such that the institution that each team is representing is in no way indicated by their code name, and use only those names to refer to the teams publicly until the announcement of the break.

F. Disclosure

1. The number of rounds with disclosure shall be left to the discretion of the adjudication core and convener.

2. Bids to host the championship must include a statement of intent with regard to disclosure policy.

G. Tie-breakers for Speakers

1. The following tie-breakers shall be used, in descending order of precedence, whenever two or more speakers are tied.

  • High/Low adjusted speaker points:  The sum of a speaker’s speaker points with the highest and lowest score discounted.
  • Double-adjusted speaker points: The sum of a speaker’s speaker points with the 2 highest and 2 lowest scores discounted.
  • Triple-adjusted speaker points (only in the case of 8 rounds): The sum of a speaker’s speaker points with the 3 highest and 3 lowest scores discounted.
  • Standard deviation: lower deviation wins
  • Drawing lots.

2. Notwithstanding the above, ties for Top Speaker shall remain unbroken.

H. Awards

1. The judges of the Grand Final shall identify a winning team, the “US National Champions,” but no awards for the final other than “Finalist.”

2. The type of physical awards given at the tournament shall be at the discretion of the convener(s).

     a. The top-placing English as a Second Language (ESL) speaker shall be recognized. Conveners shall announce the criteria for ESL qualification prior to
tournament registration.
     b. The top-placing community college team shall be recognized.

3. In addition to the awards selected by the convener(s), the National Champions shall receive the traveling National Championship Trophy.

4. Barring exceptional circumstances, the current holder institution shall be required to deliver the traveling trophy to the convener of the present round as part of their registration, and failure to do so without good cause may, at the discretion of the convener, be grounds for disqualification from the present round until the trophy is delivered or appropriate arrangements are made.

I. Other matters

1. All matters not expressly addressed above shall fall under the authority of the convener(s) and/or the adjudication core of the current round, as they collectively deem appropriate.