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Frequently Asked Questions

How much time commitment is there for debate?

This is a personal decision. There is no fixed time commitment that the Barkley Forum expects from students. Some students will work on debate 20 hours a week or more. Many others work fewer hours depending on their personal commitment and the programs they commit themselves to in competitive debate, community outreach, or campus engagement.

Will I have the opportunity to travel?

Yes. Fortunately, Emory University is located in an area with a large number of policy debate opportunities. On the average, first year students strongly committed to debate will travel to 8 to ten tournaments during the academic year, including nationally competitive tournaments such as Wake Forest, the University of Kentucky, and Georgia State University.

How do I balance academic commitment with debate?

The Barkley Forum expects debaters to continue the strong academic achievement that leads them to Emory University.  Scheduling and time management are the most important factors in identifying the appropriate balance between academic demands and debate opportunity.  Students of the Barkley Forum maintain very strong academic records and are frequently admitted to some of the finest post-graduate and professional programs.  Barkley Forum staff are available to offer advice on academic scheduling, priorities, and post-graduate education.

Are there financial obligations associated with debating at Emory?

No. There are no major out-of-pocket expenses required for debate. Most college debate programs, unlike what you may experience in high school, pay for all travel costs including team registration, housing, and transportation.

Can I debate if I have no prior policy debate experience or limited experience?

Yes. Regardless of whether you have participated in other forms of debate including Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas, Congressional Debate, or another format of debate or speech events, you are welcome to join Barkley Forum. We will teach you and help prepare you to make the transition to policy debate. With a large number of tournaments available in the Southeastern United States offering novice divisions, many opportunities exist to gain debate experience.

Can I participate in Community Outreach and Campus Engagement even if I do not debate?

Yes. Many students, including nationally successfully high school debaters, choose to stay involved in the debate community without personally competing in debate by working with the Atlanta Urban Debate League or participating in many of the public debate opportunities available through Community Engagement.