The Class of 1884 Debate Prize: 103 Years of Debate Competition

The Class of 1884 Debate Prize: 103 Years of Championship Debate Competition

Founded with a gift of $500, “the Class of 1884 . . . established a fund the annual income of which will maintain a public prize debate, to be held during commencement week.” By 1916 the prizes were “$40 and $20.” Colgate University Catalogue (1916: 112).

There were seven founders: Edward Grout ($100), Chas. Van Kirkland ($50), Dewey Martin ($50) Marion Brown ($50), James C. Colgate ($100), Albion Dyer ($100), and Herbert Gibbs ($50). Four of the original seven are identified below. Since there are seven people in the photograph below, the unidentified people could very well be the remaining founders.

Things have changed since its inception, but the Class of 1884 Debate Prize continues. Eight years ago it was re-named the President’s Cup, although the prize name remained the same. In 2011, the tournament’s reference to the Class of 1884 was restored: “The Class of 1884 President’s Cup Intramural Debate Championship.” Additionally, the top prize continues to retain its name: “The Class of 1884 Debate Prize”

This year’s first prize is $800, which is evenly divided between the two members of the winning team. Overall, $1800 will be awarded, including a $200 prize for the tournament’s top novice speaker. From $20 to $1800, the Class of 1884’s gift to Colgate, and its annual prizes, has grown; a tribute to the Class of 1884’s foresight and Colgate’s perpetuation of its legacy.

The Trophy

The four two-person teams competing will consist of one senior debater and one novice debater in celebration of the Society’s solidarity among its members: from the least experienced, to the most experienced, united by their common interest in debating as an extracurricular activity.

The competitors are all members of the Colgate University Debate Society, a Colgate club open to all Colgate University students.

Live-streamed: April 27 at 6.45 pm EDT. This year’s Chief Adjudicator is Gavin Isley, a world-renowned debater and judge. He will be joining us via Skype from the UK.

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