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SMU Debate Takes Top Honors in Tourneys

Junior Jaden Warren named top varsity debater in the U.S.

Left to right: Mattie Lippe (B.A. Communication Studies, B.A. Journalism ’16); Katie Snyder; Director of Debate Ben Voth; Cecily Cox; and Briana Monsalve (B.A. Communication Studies ’16).

SMU’s Jaden Warren, a junior studying public policy and economics, wins top varsity debater in the nation.

The SMU debate team racked up significant tournament wins this spring including the designation of top varsity debater in the U.S., won by team member Jaden Warren April 3 at the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) tournament in Houston, Texas. Warren defeated 327 varsity undergraduate debaters to win the title for SMU. This is the second major national speaking championship he has won this year—a rare feat in college forensics. Two weeks ago, he was crowned top speaker in the nation at the Pi Kappa Delta National Forensics championships in Lexington, Ky.

This is the first national title in varsity level debate for SMU in more than 10 years.

“When Jaden came to me in fall 2015 and said he wanted to win a national title in debate, I was skeptical at first,” says SMU Debate and Speech Director Dr. Ben Voth. “But I said, let’s give it a try and see what happens. It’s is an incredible story of personal tenacity, speaking ability and perseverance.”

Warren will be part of an exposition debate with Wiley College on April 30 in Marshall, Texas, where the “Great Debater” James Farmer Jr. was trained in the 1930s. SMU will debate the topic of affirmative action, an important public policy on racism developed by Farmer; the event will be held on the Wiley College campus.

In earlier spring tournaments, the SMU Debate team competed in the Mid-America Cross Examination Debate Association Championship March 18-20 in Kansas City, Mo., where Katie Snyder, Cecily Cox, Mattie Lippe (B.A. Communication Studies, B.A. Journalism ’16) and Briana Monsalve (B.A. Communication Studies ’16) finished among the top three novice teams in the nation. Lippe and Snyder earned a second seed position and competed in the final round of the tournament, debating the University of Minnesota on the topic of whether the U.S. should remove its troops from South Korea.

The SMU debate teams are coached by Director of Debate Dr. Ben Voth, Brian Gonzaba and SMU alumni such as Basma Raza (B.A. Communication Studies '14; Raza was named top speaker in the 2013 Mid-America Cross Examination Debate, novice division) and Tyler Murray, a student in the SMU Cox School of Business. The program is sponsored by the Meadows School of the Arts and the Student Affairs office at SMU.

For more questions about these events, contact Dr. Ben Voth at

Read more about SMU Debate and Mock Trial.

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