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1987 Debate Society in Limelight

Peaslee Debate Society members Josh Davis '87 (left), and Reid Neureiter '87.

On Jan. 3, Peaslee Debate Society members Josh Davis '87 and Reid Neureiter '87 teamed up to take second place at the World Debating Championships, becoming only the second American team to ever reach the world championships finals.  Davis and Neureiter impressed the crowd even more than the judges, earning first place in a vote from viewers that included Irish President Patrick Hillery, Ireland P.M. Garret FitzGerald, and U.S. ambassador to Ireland Margaret Heckler.  The duo faced rival schools such as Cambridge University, the University of Sydney, and the champions, Glasgow University Union.

In May, Davis paired with Reid Neureiter '87 to take the National Debating Championship by storm, defeating Harvard in the finals at Vassar College.  To cap off a monumental year, the team was named the American Parliamentary Debate Association Team of the Year, clinching the year's debating season with a victory in the Yale tournament.  The season began as well as it ended:  In October, Davis and Miriam Jorgensen '87 won the Harvard tournament, besting 186 teams in what was, at the time, the largest Parliamentary debate tournament held in this country.

The roots of the Amos J. Peaslee Debate Society extend back to the Eunomian Literary Society, which students formed in 1871 soon after the College's founding.  Member Amos J. Peaslee, Class of 1907, a lawyer who later served as the U.S. ambassador to Australia, bequeathed a substantial gift in 1969 to the group, which changed its name in his honor.

Swarthmore debaters continue to find success.  In November 2000, John Dolan '01 and Tenaya Scheinman '01 won the national University of Pennsylvania Debate Tournament. Dolan was also recognized as the national tournament's top individual speaker.  In Feb. 2012, in recognition of its stellar season-long performance, the group reached 10th place for the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) Club of the Year.

Swarthmore is a member of the APDA, a circuit of 58 colleges and universities located mainly on the East Coast.  Current students continue to compete in tournaments throughout the year, both on campus and away, and frequently host the APDA's national championships.