Debate | Trinity University

Coronavirus Updates: The latest information on the global pandemic and campus operations.  COVID-19 Website

Apply Now Visit Trinity

Trinity Debate is a fast-growing, successful program that participates in NDT-CEDA policy debate. With a nationally competitive travel schedule, Trinity debaters attend tournaments all over the country.

Trinity debaters have been in elimination rounds of every national tournament and consistently earn speaking honors. For the past ten years, Trinity has qualified teams to the National Debate Tournament, and, in 2010, were octofinalists at the National Debate Tournament. Trinity competes against schools including Harvard, Northwestern and the University of Texas.

Trinity Debate is a rising program committed to providing debaters with a variety of opportunities to participate at all levels of college policy debate. The team is composed of students from across the country with diverse backgrounds and mixed levels of debate experience. From late elims at the Tournament of Champions to a few regional rounds, we welcome everyone on to the squad. Whatever your argumentative choice, someone on the squad will be there to help you develop your arguments successfully. With a supportive atmosphere, everyone will find a place on the team.

Interested in joining the team?

We are glad to hear it.

To find out more or to schedule a visit with the director or the team. Contact William Jensen wmosleyj [at] or call him at 210-999-8582.

Meet the Coaches

William Jensen is the director of debate at Trinity. As a debater at the University of Wyoming, William qualified for the National Debate Tournament all four years and was one of the first Wyoming teams to compete in elimination rounds in nearly 30 years. Prior to joining Trinity he held a Graduate Assistant Coaching position at the University of Georgia while completing his Ph.D.

Collin Roark is the assistant director of debate at Trinity. While at the University of Texas-Dallas Collin was a first-round debater and competed in the elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament. Prior to joining Trinity he was a Graduate Assistant Coach at the University of North Texas, where he completed his M.A.

Debate at Trinity has a long and vigorous history.

In 1908, Trinity began debate with two clubs, The Trinity University Debating Club and the Bryan Dialectician club. By 1912, the Texas Inter-Collegiate Debating League was organized with Trinity, Southwestern University, and Texas Christian University. Trinity also cultivated a hearty debating culture within the University, with regular and fierce debates between the Philosophronian and Ratio-Genic literary societies. Trinity's Debating League became a formidable opponent in matches throughout the state until 1950, with Trinity hosting many of the tournaments.

In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Trinity hosted the Trinity University High School Speech Festival, directed by Frances Swinny, which brought some of the state's best high school debaters to Trinity. Trinity also maintained a modest team that debated university teams in the area. With George Grice's arrival at Trinity in 1974, Trinity began to make a name for itself on the national debating scene. In 1977, Trinity's final CEDA rank was 15th and they maintained a CEDA ranking within the top 25 schools nationally for ten years. In 1980, Trinity was considered to have one of the top five debating teams in the country and finished the season with an 11th place CEDA ranking. They were ranked 11th again at the CEDA tournament in 1986 under the leadership of professor Hardy-Short.

With professor Frank Harrison's arrival in 1988, speech activities at Trinity concentrated on policy debate, an orientation we maintain today. Harrison was a final round participant at the 1961 National Debate Tournament for King's College and ultimately placed third. During Harrison's tenure, Trinity teams reached the elimination rounds and frequently won their division in every major tournament in the country. He consistently qualified teams for the National Debate Tournament (including a 1994 sweet sixteen performance) and for the elimination rounds of the American Debate Association (including varsity and junior varsity championship teams). Harrison was one of the founders of the American Debate Association and, in 1991, hosted the National Debate Tournament at Trinity.

After Harrison's retirement, professor Jarrod Atchison's and then Sarah Topp continued Trinity's tradition of excellence. The 2010 team won the Naval Academy championship and made a Sweet Sixteen NDT performance. Atchison also inaugurated public debates on campus and established an ongoing relationship with the Houston UDL. Topp's program was consistently ranked in the top 25 in the country, winning several tournaments, having many teams advance into the late elimination rounds of a variety of national tournaments, and qualifying two teams for the 2011 and 2012 NDT tournaments.

Under the new leadership of William Jensen, Trinity Debate looks forward to a bright future. Jensen has resuscitated the tradition of holding an annual retreat in the hill country for the team to hone their arguments and perfect their debating skills. Under his direction Trinity attended a prestigious invitation only tournament in the Fall at Weber State University, and finished in the top 25 for the 2014-2015 competitive season.