NEXT: Pre-trial incarceration in the United States should be abolished.
Jun
20
6:30 PM18:30

NEXT: Pre-trial incarceration in the United States should be abolished.

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We're very excited to team up with the Rikers Debate Project (http://rikersdebateproject.org/) for this upcoming debate. Featured on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, RDP will present four qualified debaters on pre-trial incarceration, two of whom were students of this groundbreaking program.

“The defendant with means can afford to pay bail. He can afford to buy his freedom. But the poorer defendant cannot pay the price. He languishes in jail weeks, months, and perhaps even years before trial. He does not stay in jail because he is guilty. He does not stay in jail because any sentence has been passed. He does not stay in jail because he is any more likely to flee before trial. He stays in jail for one reason only – he stays in jail because he is poor.”

– President Lyndon Johnson, at the signing of the Bail Reform Act of 1966

Over 20 percent of prison and jail inmates in the United States are currently awaiting trial. Their only confirmed crime? An inability to pay the bail bondsman. The current setting of money bail leaves defendants with two options: pay the bondsmen or remain in “debtors’ prison.”

In theory, the bail system is meant to balance three competing objectives: (1) allow all but the most dangerous criminal defendants to go free before trial, (2) ensure that defendants appear at all required court proceedings, and (3) protect the public by preventing new crime. But are these objectives accomplished through pre-trial incarceration, or is it time for reform? Join us for this exciting display of civil discourse!

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PREVIOUS: Controversial speakers are good for public universities.
May
30
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Controversial speakers are good for public universities.

In October 2017, the University of Florida spent a staggering $600,000 for extra security measures to prepare for a talk given by white supremacist leader, Richard Spencer. At UC Berkeley, right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was met by hundreds of protestors, police officers, and barricades. His speech was delivered to a few dozen people in a nearly empty forum, and subsequently the four-day "Free Speech Week" was canceled.

We're seeing a rise of the "heckler's veto," a term for disruptive behavior causing universities to cancel contentious programs. Conservatives argue liberals are stifling free speech, and liberals view free speech as a weapon used by the right to spread hateful rhetoric.

Are these divisive speakers ultimately benefitting the student body through constructive dialogue, or is their presence a dangerous distraction? Are the exorbitant costs to provide adequate safety protocols on campus worth it to taxpayers? Where does the First Amendment fit into this, and do public universities have an obligation to grant these speakers an audience? We hope you'll join us!

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PREVIOUS: Startup culture is broken.
Apr
25
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Startup culture is broken.

Fewer startups are raising venture capital, and those that do are struggling to pay it back. Cash burn rates are skyrocketing, causing many investors to flee. Workaholism is now the standard; so if you're not putting in weekends and holidays, your competition will.

Are all the stressful days and sleepless nights worth it to attain the entrepreneurial dream? If 75% of venture-backed startups fail, is it because the culture is broken? Or are there other external factors at play? Learn from both sides at this exciting debate on April 25th!

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PREVIOUS: Gender equality needs men in order to succeed.
Mar
28
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Gender equality needs men in order to succeed.

Is gender equality attainable without men? We’re celebrating women’s history month with this engaging topic featuring a powerhouse panel of women.

Special thanks to two organizations that made this event possible:

She's the First (https://shesthefirst.org/) is fighting gender inequality through education. STF supports girls who will be the first in their families to graduate high school and trains students everywhere to be global citizens.

Cat Call (https://www.facebook.com/wearecatcall/) aims to turn up the volume on female leadership, progress and camaraderie. Rooted in productivity and social responsibility, the organization celebrates women and positively challenges gender dynamics through lifestyle and entertainment.

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PREVIOUS: Free will exists.
Feb
21
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Free will exists.

Whether through free will or predetermined influences, our audience deemed Mike Walsh and Mitch Joseph the winners of this debate. Utilizing tenets of incompatible determinism, Mike and Mitch eloquently explained their stance that all choices we make are influenced by chains of cause-and-effect. This philosophy affects moral responsibility, which requires a more comprehensive and empathetic criminal justice system for individuals preconditioned to nefarious behavior.

Their opponents, Rob Guzman and Chuck Braman, argued that while causes do determine human nature, we are still in control of our actions. The ability to "think or not think" is imperative and unique to our species - choices we make are conscious decisions, stemming from a subconscious that may or may not be influenced from past experiences.

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PREVIOUS: All illegal drugs should be legal.
Jan
24
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: All illegal drugs should be legal.

A wonderful display of civil discourse to start the new year!  Both teams offered fascinating frameworks and compelling arguments.

Iain Coston and Trivette Knowles, arguing in support of the motion, narrowly won this debate by one vote!  Points of contention included more preventative and subsidized treatment for drug users, freedom of choice, and comprehensive regulation to ensure people's drug use doesn't affect others.

Ariela Silberstein and our guest of honor, Dr. Kevin Sabet, made a formidable opposition.  Dr. Sabet's decades of expertise offered a challenging perspective on the dangers of commercialized drug use, stating that lobbyists and other special interests groups will capitalize off the country's most addicted citizens.  They referred to the damaging effects of alcohol and tobacco - two legal drugs that mastered the art of promotion to susceptible addicts, specifically in low-income communities.

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PREVIOUS: Universal basic income is the most important solution to rising joblessness in America.
Nov
30
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Universal basic income is the most important solution to rising joblessness in America.

The unemployment rate has declined since its post-recession high, but a significant portion of that drop is due to people who left the labor force, gone on disability, or given up looking for a job altogether.  Sixteen out of every 100 able-bodied individuals between ages 25 and 54 do not have a job, and that number is only getting worse.

Universal basic income, a controversial policy granting citizens consistent, unconditional payments to cover basic shelter and survival, is a proposed solution to rising joblessness and wealth inequality in the United States.  But will this "hand out" positively impact society and alleviate the nation's poverty crisis?  Or will it only incentivize the struggling middle and lower class to spend frivolously, thereby giving more wealth to the top 1%?  Is there a better solution?  Learn more on November 30th!

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PREVIOUS: Artificial intelligence poses a serious threat to the future of human existence.
Oct
25
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Artificial intelligence poses a serious threat to the future of human existence.

Brian Hanley and Joel De La Cruz won this month’s debate, referencing AI’s increasing threat to job automation, its exacerbation of wealth inequality, and the international arms race competition for lethal, autonomous weaponry.  They stressed the importance of close regulation and oversight as a necessary precaution toward prevention of new technology learning traits that put humans in danger.

Iain Coston and Alex Grass argued against AI’s threat to humanity, citing technology’s ability to level the playing field – giving the marginalized access to information and promoting equality among citizens.  A result of this surge in education and the automation of entry-level jobs is growth in non-essential jobs that promote new ideas and innovation.  They believed the complexity of the human mind is not capable of being replicated anytime soon, and that any “Terminator 2” vision is hyperbole.

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PREVIOUS: Higher education in America is worth the cost of tuition.
Sep
28
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Higher education in America is worth the cost of tuition.

It's back to school season!  So naturally, this month we'll discuss whether or not higher education is worth it.  As of April 2017, college student loan debt in the United States stands at $1.4 TRILLION, which is more than Americans owe on their credit cards and cars.  Do high tuition costs create a socioeconomic disparity for recent graduates entering the workforce?  What does it mean for college to be "worth it" - job placement, first-year salary, specialized industry knowledge?  We hope to see you there to answer these questions and more!

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PREVIOUS: It is not possible for the United States to successfully integrate or assimilate Islamic culture.
Aug
24
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: It is not possible for the United States to successfully integrate or assimilate Islamic culture.

Our winning debaters this month were Kate Gerasimova and Nasser Mohammed, arguing in favor of the motion.  Arguments detailed the fractured history of Islam and the socioeconomic oppression of Muslims, which leads to radicalization and presents irreparable barriers toward successful integration.

Danielle Solinski and Jabber Al-Bihani were this month's debaters arguing against the motion.  Points of contention included legal arguments stating it is perfectly acceptable under American law to accept immigrants into the country, as well as compelling narratives highlighting the struggles one overcame to successfully assimilate into American society.

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PREVIOUS: Religion is more harmful to society than good.
Jul
26
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Religion is more harmful to society than good.

Debaters Mike Walsh and Lee Moore were this month’s winners arguing in favor of the motion.  In highlighting the common characteristics of all religion, they argued that religion has historically been, and continues to be, the source of oppression and hindrance to societal progress.  They highlighted the importance of "free thinking" backed by science, sound evidence and rationality.

Debaters Alex Grass and Iain Coston argued against the motion by positing that "atheism" was a vehicle used by past tyrants and dictators to carry on their malevolent objectives. They also cited historical instances where "atheism" was the justifiable basis for unprecedented human atrocities. Further, they argued that some of the social progress was enabled and pioneered by people of faith-based institutions.

Both sides also argued their respective positions as to why "Religion" or lack thereof, is the proper mode of achieving moral, wholesome and fulfilling life.

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PREVIOUS: It is a proper function of the government to provide healthcare to its citizens.
Jun
21
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: It is a proper function of the government to provide healthcare to its citizens.

Debaters Chuck Braman and Rob were this month’s winners arguing against the Motion.  Citing instances of governmental institutional failures, Chuck and Rob advocated in favor of a market-based approach for access or delivery of the healthcare system.  Further, they supported their contention by citing examples of how a robust competition in a truly “open market” fosters efficient and high quality, healthcare, while reducing the burdens from unnecessary waste and bureaucracy.

Arguing in favor of the Motion were Ryan Daulton and Luchi Mmegwa.  They first cited a three-prong analysis to justify when government has a proper role in providing healthcare — the three prongs include: 1) examining whether a market failure exists; 2) evaluating the societal cost from the market failures;  and 3) assessing the benefits of making the corrections from a market failure.  They cited examples of how “information asymmetry” can lead to consumers in the healthcare market making less-informed decisions.  They also cited examples of the absurdities of the high out-of-pocket costs and the exorbitant cost of healthcare in the U.S.

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PREVIOUS: Has “Political Correctness” gone too far?
May
25
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: Has “Political Correctness” gone too far?

Katherine Horton and Christine Clark were this month’s live debate winners, arguing against the Motion.  They took a position that “political correctness”  is an integral part of a complex, modern society.  They enunciated that in order to respect other’s cultures and individual dignity, we should appreciate certain cultural nuances, rather than falling into the traps of “stereotypes.”  Additionally, they argued that a society must learn from the past historical mistakes, in order to not repeat those mistakes.

On the other hand, Mike Walsh and John Kirbow, argued that “political correctness” has stifled and hindered our ability to think critically and independently.  in making that argument, they pointed to examples of how being critical of certain cultural norms and institutions have been mislabeled and misconstrued as “intolerance.”  They also cited unhinged and perilous examples of how quickly and rapidly the “societal norms” can evolve, which may have unintended consequences in a long run.

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PREVIOUS: "Stop and frisk" is an ineffective policy.
Apr
5
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: "Stop and frisk" is an ineffective policy.

Thomas Kim and Alex Grass were this month's live debate winners, arguing against the motion.  While admitting that stop and frisk is not a perfect solution, they showcased its proven ability to reduce crime through compelling statistics and historical analysis.

Yousef Zakaria and Udit Gami, arguing for the motion, cited landmark cases and data that expose stop and frisk's propensity to abuse power and target racial minority groups.  They proposed an alternative solution to asses individual threats based on information already aggregated online.

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PREVIOUS: It is the duty of government to educate its citizens.
Feb
22
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: It is the duty of government to educate its citizens.

Debaters Chuck Braman and Rob Guzman were this month's winners arguing against the motion.  Citing a failing public education system paid for by coercion and tax dollars, Chuck and Rob advocated the idea that parents should have full autonomy in choosing how their children receive education.

Arguing for the motion were Ariela Silberstein and Lenny Herrera, who believe that while systems of education in western liberal democracies are flawed, they are necessary.  Without government regulation and funding, there would be no metric to determine the success and applicability of a child's education.

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PREVIOUS: An abundance of open source information is more harmful to society than good.
Jan
26
6:30 PM18:30

PREVIOUS: An abundance of open source information is more harmful to society than good.

Debaters Avi Gurland-Blaker and Lenny Herrera earned this Motion's victory arguing for the pro side.  Their points of contention included anti-democratic misuses of open source information, its paradoxical effect on an increasingly reclusive yet globally connected user base, and necessary regulation specifically targeting egregious misinformation used as fact.

Arguing for the con side were debaters Mike Walsh and Thomas Kim, who believe access to open source is a human right for us to spread liberal values and expose corruption.  They discussed oppression in countries that enforce censorship, and hyperbole over perceived danger posed by open source platforms.

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