Pitzer College Students Lead the Claremont Colleges Debate Union to National Top 10 Finish

Claremont, Calif. (May 14, 2013)—Led by Pitzer College students and debate veterans Braden Holstege ’14 and Nicolas Rosa ’13, the Claremont Colleges Debate Union (CCDU) is ending the academic year ranked tenth in the nation.

Debating as a team, Holstege and Rosa’s tenth place finish at the quarter finals of the 2013 national championship at the University of La Verne in April secured the CCDU’s top 10 national ranking. The duo competed against more than 160 teams from universities across the country, including Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Holstege and Rosa were both individually ranked in the top 25 speakers out of the entire competition, with Holstege coming in ninth and Rosa twenty-second.

“Their national championship performance was extraordinary,” said John Meany, director of the CCDU.  “Among other issues, Braden and Nick argued about campaign finance, ethical justifications for vigilantism, environmental protectionist policies, limitations on elective cosmetic surgery and campus restrictions on extremist speech. To be successful, they not only demonstrated exceptional interdisciplinary knowledge and impromptu argumentation skills, but they had to do it consistently over the course of eight debates against increasingly difficult opponents.”

At the championships, Holstege and Rosa debated in the World Universities Debating Championship format—the only debate format with competitions open to graduate and professional school teams as well as undergraduate students. Students argue a different topic in each debate. Once students are assigned to a debate and a topic is announced, they only have 15 minutes to design their argument positions and anticipate opponents’ replies before the debate begins. Yale University won the 2013 national championship.

Earlier in the year, Holstege and Rosa won first place at the 2013 Portland State University Intervarsity Debate Tournament in Portland, OR. They have both served as instructional staff at the CCDU’s campus summer residential programs for middle and high school students. They also have administered debate tournaments and judged events for the CCDU’s Public Debate Program, a class and competitive outreach program for secondary schools in the US and abroad.

Holstege, an economics major, is a member of Pitzer’s Faculty Executive Committee and won an Outstanding Delegate award during the Harvard National Model United Nations conference last year. Holstege was named a 2013 Robert Day Scholar by Claremont McKenna College's Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.

Rosa is a double major in psychology and English and World Literature. An admission fellow and a resident assistant, Rosa is also the founder of FirstGen, a mentoring program for first generation college students.

The Claremont Colleges Debate Union, a debating society comprised of undergraduates from The Claremont Colleges, has ranked among the nation’s top 10 debate programs almost every year for the past two decades and won the 2010 national championship.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

Press Releases, 2013–14 Academic Year