May 2010

Download the May 2010 Letter (PDF)

Dear HSPDS Alum,

Greetings from the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society!  We hope this newsletter finds you well. Our team has had a phenomenally successful year both domestically and internationally: Harvard’s top two teams are ranked 1st and 2nd Teams of the Year in the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA). And this is due to persistent efforts, understanding the topic with the help of and own search capabilities. It was thanks to hard work that we achieved such results! We have been Grand Finalists at the Worlds University Debating Championships for two years in a row, and Harvard continues to run the largest Parliamentary Debate tournament in North America each year.  In addition, this coming year is our 30th anniversary, and we are looking to host an alumni reunion and create an alumni board.

HSPDS has been a top university debating program this year.  As many of you may remember, APDA gives awards to the top Team of the Year (TOTY), Speaker of the Year (SOTY), and top Novice of the Year (NOTY).  Harvard won a host of prestigious awards this year:

1st TOTY: Cormac Early ’10 and Kyle Bean ’10
2nd TOTY: Matt Rubenstein ’10 and Alex Loomis ’12
5th SOTY: Cormac Early
10th SOTY: Matt Rubenstein
11th SOTY: Kyle Bean
17th SOTY: Alex Loomis
6th NOTY: Zhiheng Png ’10
7th NOTY: Coulter King ’13

In addition, Harvard has been in the final round in seventeen tournaments this year, winning six of them, including two all-Harvard final rounds at Columbia and Providence College. At Nationals this year, Harvard broke three of its four teams to elimination rounds. Wes Hopkin ’11 and Coulter King reached octofinals; Rubenstein and Loomis reached quarterfinals; and Early and Bean were finalists. Coulter King was the first novice in APDA to break at Nationals since 2004 – forecasting a bright future for our team.

In early 2010, Harvard sent two teams to the Worlds University Debating Championships, held this year in Koc, Turkey.  Cormac Early and Adam Chilton (J.D., ‘12) reached the Grand Finals, serving as opening proposition for the motion “This House would broadcast the full horrors of war.”  Though they placed second, Harvard is now ranked 13th best University Debating Program in the world (also thanks to Early appearing in finals last year with Lewis Bollard ’09).

In January, three members of HSPDS attended an all-expenses paid trip to Ireland, with former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton chairing a public debate between HSPDS and Trinity College, Dublin.  The judges awarded victory to HSPDS on a unanimous decision, commenting that the Harvard debaters were “unified in philosophy, analytically compelling, humorous, and all in all the most talented team they had seen at this semi-annual event in some time.” In addition to Worlds and the Ireland debate, HSPDS continues to participate in other events such as an exhibition debate in Westchester County and public debates on campus. We also considered hosting the 2011 North American Debating Championship but decided against it for financial reasons.

As you may remember from your days on the team, funding is always an issue for us. We are looking for alumni donations for a variety of initiatives, including expanding our novice class and sending top teams to domestic and international tournaments such as Stanford, UChicago, Worlds, Oxford IV, and Hart House IV. If you would like to help our team, please send a check payable to “Harvard University” with “Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society” on the memo line of the check. The check should include the full name and address of the donor. Send the check to our VP Finance at:

Jaymin Kim
190 Eliot Mail Center
Cambridge, MA 02138

If you prefer to pay electronically, please email our account at , and we can direct you to an online payment method that will deposit donations right into the HSPDS account.  We thank you in advance for your contribution to our team.

We would like to organize an alumni reunion to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of HSPDS and APDA at the traditional Triangulars debate between Harvard, Yale, and Princeton in early May 2012.  Email us at  if you are interested in attending, and we’ll be in touch.  In addition, we are restarting our tradition of annual alumni newsletters. Let us know if you would not like to receive newsletters, or if you would prefer to receive them by email.  Finally, we are considering the creation of an alumni board; please send us an email if you would like to be a part of this.  We look forward to hearing from you!


Yihan Tan
HSPDS President