Wayne State University Speech & Debate Teams

A Motor City Tradition Since 1918


We participate primarily in NDT/CEDA/ADA team policy debate, NEDA Crossfire/Public Forum debate, and NFA/AFA individual events competition. We support open, junior varsity, and novice levels of competition.


In general, the Wayne State Speech and Debate teams are open teams, meaning we accept beginning and experienced students and give all of them opportunity to travel around the country to compete and represent Wayne State University. Our only requirement for joining and remaining on the team is that you are committed to the activity, strive to improve as a competitor, and follow the team's policies.

The Five Ds

Legendary WSU Director of Forensics Dr. George Ziegelmueller (1962-2005) created five principles and rules--the Five Ds--that, to this day, govern student behavior and the direction of the overall forensics program.

(No) Drugs and Alcohol - competitors are forbidden from consuming alcohol or illegal substances while at competition or other WSU forensics activities.

Dress - students are expected to dress in a professional manner. Students represent both WSU and a long tradition of excellence that deserves respect. Our appearance matters.

Deodorant - Our teams travel long distances in small vehicles. We expect our students to bathe and handle their bodily smells.

Delivery - while individual events and debate have both become very specialized activities, we believe it is important to always remember the public communication foundations of both activities. We seek to persuade and move our audiences with both the better argument and idea and the best performance.

Decorum - students are representatives of WSU and the forensics program. They are to act as ambassadors of our university and program. They should act in a professional and respectful fashion and seek to improve the communities in which they participate.

This principles inform our team expectations, policies, and rules.

Team History

WSU History at the NDT & The History of the NDT 1947-2005 by Bill Southworth of Redlands University.


A scrapbook of news coverage of the team (when we were called City College) compiled by the 1928-1931 students.

Speech & Debate teams and the WSU University Mission

Our teams fulfill the Wayne State University mission, to "create and advance knowledge, prepare a diverse student body to thrive, and positively impact local and global communities," by….

Creating and advancing knowledge by conducting vast amounts of research to create hundreds of arguments about numerous contemporary political and social issues. Over the course of a season, a speech and debate team will produce more research than a PhD dissertation. Our undergraduate students supplement and extend much of their classroom learning by advancing that knowledge in competition and then bring back to the classroom what they learned in competition against some of the best students from other universities. Thus, we develop knowledge, take it out into the world, test those ideas, and return to the classroom and squad room to refine our ideas to test them again at the next competition.

Preparing a diverse student body to thrive by recruiting and supporting diverse students to attend Wayne State. Our teams are populated by a diverse set of students of different genders, ethnicities and races, religions, socio-economic statuses, and sexual orientations.

We also promote diversity and positively impact local populations by bringing hundreds of high school students to our campus to train them in argumentation and debate and persuasion. For instance, we host the Detroit Urban Debate League, which instructs DPS and Charter school students in argumentation and debate. We also host summer debate institutes to future train these students.

Due to our almost 60 years of debate and speech excellence, we impact our local community by being widely recognized as a vital hub of support for college and high school debate activities in the state of Michigan and the country. Further, our graduate assistant coaches have left WSU to become successful coaches at colleges and high schools around the nation. Lastly, we host events that promote campus debate and dialogue. For instance, on September 26 at 8:30 pm at the Student Center Ballroom, we are hosting a presidential debate watch that is open to the entire campus community. 

Thus, we believe the many activities we support and hundreds of students that we host and train each year support the university mission in many ways.

Miscellaneous Historical Documents about the Team