Candidate Statements


Aiden Zhang (Tufts)

Hello APDA,

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Aiden Zhang and I am a junior at Tufts studying international relations and economics. I have spent this past year serving the league as a Member-at-Large and as the board liaison to the Novice Mentors Committee.

With that said, here is my vision for APDA for the next year:
Revitalized Committees: As the league rebounds from COVID, APDA committees, such as GSEI, VRC or DEI, have largely been left behind. These committees are the main bodies that can affect league-wide reform on specific issues such as diversity, and their current weakness are, in my opinion, to blame for the mistaken belief that most change on APDA must happen on the team level. How, then, can APDA breathe new life into these committees. First, the application process is too long, requiring multiple paragraph-long answers to multiple questions. For the time being, APDA should streamline the application process by cutting the number of application questions and marking the majority of them optional. Second, the messaging push around committee applications needs to be stronger such as by individually inviting candidates to apply to committee roles.
Expansion Reg Credits: With an increase in APDA revenue set to begin next fall, we need to determine the kinds of initiatives tax revenue will be used to fund. My proposal is reg credits. Schools who do not receive sufficient funding from their universities could apply for supplementary funding from APDA itself where the league would pay a certain amount of a school’s reg costs.
For example, if school A is given $500 dollars in credits and racks up a $300 dollar invoice at tournament B, school A could “redeem” $300 dollars worth of credit, and APDA would write a $300 check made out to school B
Progressive Dues: In order to fund expansion programs, APDA needs more revenue. A progressive dues structure would better serve the league on two fronts: a) it provides more stable revenue for APDA and b) better targets “wealthier” schools. This would be completed by conducting a census-esque survey of APDA members and their budget and then using that data to index taxes accordingly.
Repeal Section 3.12: APDA should absolutely start buying up rental properties like we’re Blackrock.

Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on facebook messenger or at aidenlzhang@gmail.com.

Ailin Jia (NYU)


My name is Ailin, and I am a junior at NYU studying economics. I serve as the current president of the NYU team and have been on NYU’s executive board since I was a freshman.

Unlike the other positions on the APDA board, the President both has a very wide mandate on what it can do, and a narrow mandate on what it absolutely has to do. Its key roles are to supervise board meetings, manage the affairs of APDA, and serve as a tie-breaking vote. Given this, the Presidency is an exercise of judgment – the final authority for decisions that APDA is deadlocked on.

My experience over the last three years in the league has been multifaceted and has given me a huge amount of insight into the experiences of all different types of APDA debaters. For example, I was part of NYU both when it was cash-strapped and had minimal presence on the league, but also am a part of a NYU today after it has grown tremendously on APDA. (If you know anything about AR, he is not one for planning, so I have had to deal with a lot of the responsibility on what this change meant for our school). I served on the NYU board both as someone in the background doing logistics work and as its primary leader. I have been someone who has both spent a year debating casually for fun and pursued being as competitive as possible this year.

In this vein, I believe that my unique experience on APDA as someone whose debate career has seen a lot of change, on a team that has seen a lot of change, has put me in a position where I can understand how the effects of decisions can cascade onto the league writ large. Especially because while we often refer to the “average APDA debater” – that person doesn’t actually exist, with each individual in the league holding a unique place and perspective that few others share.

Beyond this, there are a couple of policies that I would deeply like to see instantiated across the league.

I believe that DEI should be much more involved in capturing instances of measurable sexism and racism – for instance, bringing back the presentations on speak disparities throughout the year, along with active outreach to GMs of both established schools and expansion schools to document qualitative experiences to coordinate with these findings. Along with this, I hope to greatly expand NMC to be much more aggressive in outreach towards novices, particularly GM novices, who are too often unretained. This is something that is uniquely enhanced by the role of the president as it combines the need for outreach within committees and strong connections with individual schools.

Within the first 30 days, I would like to post and evaluate an anonymous “state of APDA survey” that people across the league can fill out to provide valuable data on what the league needs to fix. This survey would offer both descriptive opportunities – giving information on what people care about – and prescriptive opportunities – highlighting things that very often have only popped up on a doom thread. At the end of the month, I hope to post the results as well as how we will remedy these concerns.

I think that the board should have a much more aggressive expansion pro-amming requirement, for multiple tournaments rather than just one.
I have recognized that after COVID, it has become much more difficult to run tournaments, and I believe that the board should provide significantly more support to schools in these endeavors. I hope to see many more supermajors next year as a result of this! This could include helping with logistical concerns that schools may have, such as reaching out to multiple schools in urban areas to coordinate crash housing, as well as earmarking weekends that historically host supermajors and opening up opportunities to host them to multiple schools rather than the same ones every year. This is something I have experience doing (c.f crash housing at the NYU tournament). Of course, these policies would be contingent upon the capacity of the school to support a tournament of that size.

Finally, I recognize that a lot of people across APDA have great ideas. So, I believe that the board should have a public anonymous Google form for people to submit any relevant policies they think the league needs, and I pledge to read and evaluate each one.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity! If you have any questions, you can reach out to me over messenger or at my email address aj3402@nyu.edu.

VP Operations:

Reed Easterling (NYU)

Hello all! My name is Reed (he/him), and I’m running to be your VP Operations for the 24-25 academic year. In case you don’t know me—I’m an incoming senior at NYU originally from a small town about 45 minutes outside of St. Louis, MO. I’ve been a member of APDA ever since I came to NYU—and have met so many people who I’m honored to call my friends on this league.
I currently serve as your VP Finance and liaison for the Video Recording Committee. I have also previously served as an interim Member-at-Large during last semester’s vacancy, and currently sit on the EOF committee.
The responsibilities of VP Operations demand a significant amount of knowledge about the functions of APDA Board and the league writ large. I believe my experience from being on board for the past year uniquely gives me this experience. Furthermore, I’ve worked to assist the VP Operations in their duties this year—allowing me the ability to hit the ground running immediately should I be elected.
If elected, I will work to improve the efficiency of APDA Board in both private and public settings—specifically by working to ensure APDA meetings are announced with sufficient notice, by working with schools to make sure tournaments are posted ahead of time, and by being a resource for both knowledge and communication for the league.
My key philosophy in any elected position is increasing transparency—so I will pledge to always listen to any member of the league if they have questions, comments, or concerns they want heard—or if they just want to talk, debate, or anything else! In that spirit—if you are curious about any aspect of my campaign, please don’t hesitate to email me at mre9727@nyu.edu or contact me on FB Messenger!

I truly hope I can earn your vote in this election so I can continue serving this amazing community.

Sydney Cook (UChicago)

Hello all,

I’m Sydney Cook (they/she) and I’m a second-year at The University of Chicago. This is my second year in the league, and my time has been nothing short of amazing. APDA (and debate in general) has given me many things — a chance to work on my creativity, argumentative, and critical thinking skills, a hobby that I want to continue progressing in, and the opportunity to meet and be friends with many amazing people. There are too many times to count when I’ve found myself learning something new either in a round or in GA, when I’ve met and kept in contact with a new person from a random interaction and GA, and when I’ve genuinely been excited about waking up at 2 am for a flight (a classic Chicago experience). For all of what debate has given me, I want to be able to return my gratitude in service to the league.

I think my experiences outside of the realm of APDA make me a good candidate for VP of Operations. I have a lot of experience with organizing and facilitating large-scale events as a member of the executive board of the Organization of Black Students, and I also am in a leadership role in a magazine on campus. I also have a skill set that I think would be useful and
easily applicable to the role — I’m proficient in Google and Microsoft Suite, well versed in communications and how to spread information en masse via mailing platforms, and I offer a new perspective (having not served on APDA before this) that can be useful in discussions on the league.

I think I would also be able to be a very successful Member at Large. I have organizational and administrative skills, serving on the Executive Board of the Organization of Black Students on campus, I have a lot of experience in communications due to my internship in my University’s Global News Office, and I am also happy and willing to meet people — back on campus I work as a tour guide!

I think this league has so much to offer and the potential to be even more of an amazing space, and I want to be able to hopefully have some hand in upholding the league. Thanks so much for reading, and please reach out with any questions! 🙂

Sydney Cook | University of Chicago ‘26


VP Finance:

Pranav Garigipati (NYU)

I’m Pranav, I debate for NYU, and I’m running for VP Finance.
Candidacy Statement:

Hey everyone, I’m Pranav! I’m a sophomore debating for NYU and I couldn’t be more excited to run for APDA Board.

I’m running for VP Finance, but am more than happy to drop down if necessary (to preempt the inevitable forum question). APDA has given me so much over the past two years, likely because I have almost no life outside of it, so I’d love to be given the opportunity to give back. I thoroughly enjoy and value our unique, tight-knit community, our commitment to ensuring equity and safety, and our diversity of thought when it comes to how people engage in the activity.

When it comes to qualifications, I’m of the opinion that APDA Board doesn’t really have a high skill barrier, rather, it’s more about dedication and putting in the effort. A lot of people conflate being dedicated to debate with being dedicated to serving the league. I can guarantee that I’m dedicated to both. I’ve had a few really important and dire experiences that have shaped the way I view the importance of board, my reaffiliation being the forefront of these.

Confidentiality is of the utmost importance to me. Dealing with sensitive matters myself, I understand that the importance of every board action is different to everyone — and I ought to respect that with confidentiality at the bare minimum.

Commitment to service: I’m the type of person to always volunteer to help out when I can. My mission is to take my wonderful experience in APDA and spread it as much as I can.

Being a welcoming face of the league: This one’s obviously a bit more broad, but I still think I can embody this well. First off, the novice hybrid requirement is something I’m really excited about, not something I’d put off and treat like a pesky obligation. Moreover, working with novice development on my teams, I’ve dealt with a variety of novices who have vastly differing experiences with debate. I like to think I’ve done a good job fostering their growth and keeping them retained on APDA.

Making sure things get done: I’m annoying, skillfully. If you haven’t paid dues or gotten back to me with information on the tournament you’re hosting, I will use your schools budget to take a train and patiently stand outside your debate practice. In all seriousness, I’m persistent and stay on top of my stuff. I’ll do my best to ensure all my minions are, too.

A lot of this has been pretty broad board stuff. For the people fiending for reasons why I’ll be a great VP Finance specifically, I’m an economics, business, and data science major. I love money and I promise I’ll try not to embezzle!

Thank you for reading through and considering putting me on your ballot! Have fun incessantly writing tight cases. Feel free to text me on messenger for any questions about my campaign or just to talk!


Cecilia (Ceci) Granda-Scott (Amherst)

Hi! My name is Cecilia (Ceci) Granda-Scott. I’m originally from Miami but am now a Political Science (very basic I know) and Gender Studies major at Amherst College. I’m a current sophomore and the Captain of the Amherst Debate Society.

I’ll be totally honest: I didn’t think I wanted to do debate in college. I was tired after highschool debate, and walking into the first ADS meeting and learning there were only 2 returning members wasn’t very encouraging. But some mild bullying convinced me to try it out for my first tournament and I’ve been a goner ever since. Why do I love APDA?

First, the activity itself. Considering I’m running for board, I’m sure you can guess that I really like debating! I love creating cases, getting to write about subject matter I’ve been passionate about (DM me if you want to read 1600 words on why debationships are bad I consider it a top priority to spread this) and new topics that I find myself researching because I think it will make for a good case. I thrive off the brain workout that opping makes me do, not only because I’m exposed to niche topics I would never have thought about otherwise but because I really do get excited when I come up with a (in my opinion) great argument or fire weighing. Even when I totally get bopped, I come out of rounds in awe at the community of incredibly smart people we have here.

Second, the social scene. APDA has given me so many friends and memories, and that is why I keep coming back even when I may get grumpy about actual tournament performance. I look forward to reuniting with friends in GA, finding each other after each round to talk about the rounds we just had. I really do think I have made a new friend every single tournament I’ve gone to, and I love continuing to build those relationships over the season. Some of these memories have been more spontaneous than others (shoutout to Tufts for letting me sleep in their hotel last year when I found out Amherst hadn’t booked me a room as I tried to check in) but they all hold a special place in my heart (and my throat as it recovered after karaoking for 2 hours with Fordham).

Why do I think I’m qualified to be MAL? I’ve been heavily dedicated to APDA this year on the Amherst team. I’ve honed my logistical skills in organizing all of the tournaments ADS goes to – registering, convincing people to judge, fighting admin for money, and booking cars and hotels. I’ve also led the charge overseeing the first tournament Amherst has hosted since 2019 (which, by the time elections happens, will hopefully have gone swimmingly). Most importantly, I’ve grown the ADS this year. We started with 4 returning members and now have 16 voting members (exponential growth!). Something that I’m especially proud about is that more than half of our retained novices never did debate before coming to us. I think one of the biggest factors in convincing people to keep going with debate despite the high barrier to entry to competitive success is the team culture and sense of community we’ve fostered. I love watching the novices continuously come to practices, team dinners, and even last minute tournaments when we need a judge because they love the team, and I want everyone who participates in APDA to develop this same connection to the activity.

What do I want to work on as a board member? I think that I have a unique experience in that I attend a technically non-expansion school with practically zero previous institutional knowledge. The vast majority of ‘APDA knowledge’ I have learned has been from other schools – and I recognize that this is only because I have immense privilege in having connections from highschool debate. I think that the APDA website could be more accessible. I know that it was impossible for me to make a forum account without messaging the VP because WordPress wouldn’t email my confirmation, and I know other schools have had this issue too. I think this troubleshoot should definitely be on the website. I know that there available compilations of resources – Mac Hay’s BDU Kitchen Sink for example – but it’s hard to find them without knowing where to look. I also think a helpful resource could be a list of drills, their objectives, and how to run them for schools trying to come up with practice ideas. Additionally, I think that something that may drive people away is feeling like everyone on the circuit is speaking the same language and using vocabulary you’ve never heard before. I think a document of commonly used ‘jargon’ and their explanations would be helpful in making novices/expansion schools feel more socially comfortable.

If elected, I promise to devote my all to the APDA Board – I love this activity and everyone in it, and running for this position stems from a desire to play my part in making it as amazing for everyone as it has been for me.

Joey Rubas (UVA)

Hello everyone! My name is Joey. I’m a second-year student at the University of Virginia and the Vice President of Finance for the University of Virginia Parliamentary Debate Society.

I’m incredibly passionate about debate and feel like I’ve gained so much from my time in this activity. I would love the opportunity to join the APDA board and give back. One unique thing I have to offer is my wide background in programming and technology. Many of the problems APDA faces today are technological, and I believe having someone on the board equipped to handle them could be a great help.

I’m very excited about this opportunity and happy to throw my hat in the ring. Thank you for your consideration.