Candidate Statements


Teddy Tawil, Yale

Hi everyone! My name is Teddy (he/him), and I’m a junior at Yale studying Ethics, Politics, and Economics.

I was a latecomer to APDA, joining the league my sophomore year (this past academic year). I’m so glad I did: From researching cases on human-level AI to doing actor analysis about the incentives of American Girl doll designers to the many great friends I’ve made from around the country, I’ve gotten a lot out of my time on the circuit.

I want to give back by putting in the work that helps this league run. I am well-organized and have organized a variety of programs (public demo debate with Harvard, lunch tag, weekly socials, book club, etc.) for the Yale team, on which I was recently promoted to Social Chair.

I would be sure to complete the responsibilities of MAL promptly, including ensuring the schools I’m assigned to have TOs in ample time, informing schools about APDA meetings, voting on reaff requests and keeping them confidential, and approving TOs.

As a recent novice, I would also be eager to help improve the experience for novices. This includes assembling annotated copies of strong cases as models for students from schools without institutional cases, and perhaps serving as a Committee Liaison for the Novice Mentors Committee.

Thank you so much! Please feel free to reach out at teddy.tawil@yale.edu with any questions about my platform.

Emily Paulin, Princeton

Hi everyone! My name is Emily, and I’m a junior in economics at Princeton. Since my first tournament, I’ve loved APDA and debate in general, and I want to be part of the continued growth of the league.

I have the administrative skills and the passion for APDA necessary to serve as a member at large. I excel at staying on top of deadlines, as well as holding myself and others accountable. For example, I singlehandedly managed the finances at the Princeton IV this summer, a tournament with almost 600 participants. Additionally, I’m the type of person to volunteer first when work needs to get done or when someone needs help. I’m extremely reliable and good at balancing responsibilities, especially when things come up at the last minute; at Princeton’s APDA tournament this year, I took on the job of catering the food and driving to get it, in addition to my tabbing responsibilities. Finally, I love meeting new people, learning from them, and giving advice, all of which are helpful in the MAL role.

In addition to my administrative skills and passion, I have two unique experiences that I think would make me a valuable addition to APDA board. I didn’t debate in high school. After joining the league, I really had no idea what was going on, and only the persistence of my varsities and my stubborn refusal to give up retained me on the league. Beyond attending practices and taking feedback from rounds, I was unaware of the resources and community opportunities available until I started participating in Werewolf the summer after my first year, by sheer luck. For many people, this can be a barrier to feeling integrated with the league and gaining the skills necessary to do well competitively, and one of my main goals as MAL would be to improve our communication and outreach both to teams and individuals on the league, given that it is the main purpose of the role. I currently serve as the Advising Director for Princeton, and I’m working on a collection of central resources to alleviate these issues.

I am involved in both BP and APDA. Recently, tournaments have experimented with using BP techniques to improve the tournament experience on APDA. As someone who has done both styles extensively as a debater, judge, and organizer, I’ve learned a lot from both want to explore ways to strengthen APDA to better retain debaters while maintaining the integrity of the format.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Samuel Watkins, American

Hello lovely APDA folks! I’m Sam Watkins (he/him), a sophomore at American University originally from Kentucky. As of this year, I’m currently serving as the VP for the Debate Society @ American University. I’m running for MAL because I want to make APDA as accessible as possible for as many people as possible.

My Platform: More APDA for more folks! The board does a terrific amount of thankless work to keep everything on the league running smoothly. In addition to seeking to help them with that labor in every way I can, I want to commit to a lot of reform and resource management that prioritizes making sure that the entire gamut of expansion schools and any Novice or new collegiate debater who’s passionate about APDA & debate (but doesn’t know the perfect places to look!) gets access to the resources necessary to thrive as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In a tangible sense, that looks like fostering initiatives to revive all sorts of sources of information: working with the VRC to create publicly accessible outrounds recordings after each tournament with everybody’s consent so that all schools know what APDA looks like at a high level, reviving resources akin to the Point of Clarification Facebook page so that everybody can get their APDA questions answered, and perhaps even creating a publicly accessible modern Novice training curriculum that every single school can access straight off the forums that helps them build an APDA team from the ground up. To be perfectly blunt, I don’t know what the roadblocks might be with each of these ideas, because I haven’t yet had the time on the circuit to actualize these plans and connect with the other folks who are already both interested in and actually doing this really great and important work. My hope is that being a MAL of the APDA board will give me the resources and connections to make these types of things possible, and then I can pass that privilege down to others who share this driving passion from across the U.S. to make some great parliamentary debate.

My Story (aka, an introduction of me that I mainly wrote for folks who’ve never met me before or don’t know me too well, and then I realized rather quickly was probably less important than the stuff at top… but that I still wanted to share.):

Two years ago, due to both the pandemic and the inequitable actions of past DSAU debaters who graduated before my arrival—by the end of 2022—our school’s debate team had a whopping singular member representing us. While we were never officially labeled as an expansion school, our program functionally had to build back from nothing post-pandemic, and that’s the scene that I entered as a freshman. Throughout my novice season last year, DSAU steadily rebuilt itself, and I formed my own identity as a collegiate debater both within a wonderful diverse group of freshmen here at home at AU in D.C., but most crucially, by immersing myself in the culture and community of a lot of different debate societies outside of my own both within the DMV and beyond. For example, having the privilege of getting to hitch a ride with GU & GW in order to debate at Princeton alongside Omesh from Drexel, where I got to meet so many lovely people like Ben and Amy from Stanford or Emily from Princeton. Getting to attend Nationals as a free seed was such an amazing experience, as each and every round showed me not only just how much I still have to learn about every aspect of debate, but also such a vast variety of topic areas that people on the league are so beautifully passionate about.

Due to logistical constraints and a budget of essentially $0 from our university’s club funding center in our first year back, I didn’t get to attend as many APDA tournaments as I would’ve liked to, at all. But each one was an incredibly formative experience, and I wholeheartedly subscribe to the school of thought I heard from many wise debaters during their senior speeches at Nats last year, that I’ve got at least a couple more full novice years to go. I’m learning tons about APDA and the amazing people that encompass it every single day and every single event I attend.

Fundamentally, the hook, line and sinker of APDA that grabbed me and never let go was that not only did I get to share what I’m interested in, but that every single tournament I attend, I get to deeply listen to and engage with ideas about economics and philosophy as well as social justice and the lived experiences of others that would’ve soared over my head; if not for this platform that gives everybody a voice and teaches all of us to listen and passionately absorb the ideas of others. I’m still learning and learning so much every day, but I think that if I can just internalize a small fraction of the brilliance that I’ve been observing from every single tournament & meeting, where all APDA folks share the things that matter most to them, I can try to advocate for some of these ideas and principles myself as well as platforming others and directing them through the right channels to share their own truths. I am so blessed to be a member of the APDA community, and I want to amplify our ability to provide this same experience for as many folks and as many campuses as we can.

I cannot thank you enough for reading this long-winded post and considering me as a candidate for Member-At-Large of the APDA Board. If you’ve got any questions for or about me, I’d be so happy to answer them, as well as simply to meet more of the amazing people in this community from some of the schools I’ve yet to have the chance to visit in my lifetime—the easiest place to reach me for any of these things is Facebook Messenger or here on the forums.

Sydney Cook, University of Chicago

I am honored to announce my candidacy for the position of Member-at Large. As a passionate advocate for the art of debate and the values upheld by APDA, I am committed to contributing my time, expertise, and enthusiasm to fulfill the crucial responsibilities outlined for this role.

The duties of a Member-at-Large are extensive, touching upon various aspects of our association’s operations. I am fully prepared to embrace these responsibilities with dedication, a strong sense of duty, and my flair.

I pledge to assist in the seamless organization and execution of the National Debate Championship. I will serve as a liaison between the host member and the Board to ensure that this premier event showcases the excellence and professionalism that APDA is known for. Furthermore, in the years when APDA hosts the North American Debate Championship, I will diligently work to support its organization and execution. My role as a liaison between the host member and the Board will guarantee the success of this international event.

I am committed to assisting in the organization and execution of Novice Tournament(s) while maintaining open lines of communication between the host member(s) and the Board. Nurturing novice debaters is vital for the future of our debate community, and I will strive to ensure these tournaments are a stepping stone to excellence, while also being a place the novices are made to feel welcome and comfortable.

I will gladly take on the responsibility of overseeing the standing committees established by Section 3.10 B. My goal is to foster collaboration and innovation within these crucial working groups. Clear communication between these committees and the Board is essential for achieving our collective goals. Keeping clear communication lines open between the standing committees and the Board will ensure everyone is focused on excellence in whatever matter is before us as a community.

The preservation of our history is paramount. As a Member-at-Large, I will maintain and acquire audio, audio/visual, or otherwise recorded footage of debate rounds for the APDA archive, along with other materials relevant to our history. This commitment makes sure that our rich heritage continues to inspire future generations. They will be able to look back at previous iterations of our league and the events/tournaments we will have participated in.

As much as familiarizing themselves with the history of our league is essential for novices seamlessly integrating into our community, our current actions are just as paramount. As a Member-at-Large, I will take the lead in preparing and distributing APDA’s newsletter which will keep our members informed and engaged with the latest news, events, and opportunities within our community.

Furthermore, I wholeheartedly endorse the requirement for each Member-at-Large to partner with a novice debater who brings diversity and fresh perspectives to our community. This commitment aligns with APDA’s values of inclusivity and mentorship, and I will ensure compliance with this essential mandate.

Thank you for your consideration, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss my candidacy further at sydani@uchicago.edu.

Mac Hays, Brown

My name is Mac Hays. I am currently the president of the Brown Debating Union. I have debated for 8 years and have coached debate professionally for the past 4.

The APDA community has provided an invaluable space for me to express myself, develop my creativity and communication skills, and meet a diverse set of intellectually curious individuals who have become some of my best friends. I seek to enable as many other people to have the kind of wonderful experience I have had with APDA as possible. To this end, I would like to throw my hat in the ring and see if I can make a difference in APDA board politics to make our debate community a more inclusive space for more people to more fully access the potential benefits that debate has to offer. Thank you for your consideration.