Detroit Urban Debate League

About Us

The mission of the Detroit Urban Debate League (DUDL) is to provide debate instruction and competition to Detroit and Metro Detroit’s High School Community. The DUDL is open to traditional public, public charter and private schools in the city of Detroit and similarly situated demographic areas in southeastern Michigan. The DUDL was commenced by Dr. George Ziegelmueller, Director of Forensics at Wayne State University, in the 1980s with a grant from the Open Society Institute.

The Detroit Urban Debate League is currently directed by John Lawson, Dr. Sydney Pasquinelli, and Darcell Brown. The DUDL is partnered with the Detroit Public Community School District, Wayne State University, and the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL).

The DUDL administers one tournament per month throughout each debate season for its member schools. This amounts to six or seven tournaments between September and March. Our final league tournament also serves as our regional qualifying tournament for the NAUDL Tournament, in which two teams will advance to this National Championship Tournament. Students from the DUDL's University Prep High School have won the prestigious title of NAUDL National Champions two times in the past decade, coached both times by Sharon Hopkins!

The DUDL has maintained a 100% graduation rate for its senior debaters, with over 90% attending college. College scholarships and financial assistance for debate awarded to DUDL graduates include the following universities and colleges: Wayne State University, Michigan State University, University of Iowa, Wake Forest University and Wiley College in Texas.

Most of the League’s tournaments and other meetings are hosted by Wayne State University, either on campus at Manoogian Hall, or in COVID-Safe Zoom Rooms, and are only possible with the continuous support of the Debate Team, the Communication Department, and the College for Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. Our sponsors include, but are not limited to, the Ronald and Regina McNeil Family Foundation, the Dickinson Wright Law Firm, the Miller Law Firm, and the Dykema Gossett Law Firm. We also rely upon and heavily appreciate our volunteer judges at league tournaments.

The DUDL holds a one-week summer debate camp in August where the DUDL debaters and coaches can explore the intricacies of debate theory and techniques and learn about the debate topic for the upcoming season. The summer institute is sponsored by Wayne State University. This year’s incredibly relevant and timely topic centers around the US federal government’s role in protecting water resources for its citizens and communities.

The DUDL co-sponsors the Michigan Junior Varsity State Championship. League debaters have participated in notable public debates at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History, the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and at churches, veteran’s centers and for non-profit organizations in the City of Detroit.

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Participating Schools & Coaches

Cass Technical High School: Tatanisha Lewis, Nathan Glancy and Joshua Harrington

Cody Medicine and Health High School: Bernard Harris and Jordan Branch

Detroit Cristo Rey High School: Richard Thorsby and Katja Molinaro

Detroit School of Arts High School: Kimberly Liddell Love and Brandon Reynolds

Loyola High School: Kathy Gross and Travis McClendon

School at Marygrove: Brandon Moss and Rhonda Hadair

University High School Academy: Daniel Minadeo and Darcell Brown

University Preparatory High School: Suki Johal and David Foster