The BUDL BUZZ – Debate as Change 10. 2016 Edition

Hello BUDL Friends!

The 2016-2017 competitive debate season is in full force thanks to the tireless volunteers and supporters who champion our amazing debaters at tournaments across Baltimore City. We are grateful for your support and look forward to your continued involvement as our students strengthen their arguments during each round. Often people imagine debate as relevant only in election season, but debate is so much more. Debate transforms. Debate transcends. Debate is change. This month’s newsletter focuses on debate as change and shares with you our students’ perspectives as they develop into thoughtful and empowered young people. 

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BUDL realizes that our students are acutely aware of the perceptions of police and youth in Baltimore City. It is truly a testament to last year’s in-depth policy debate topics on police body cameras and U.S. surveillance that students and community members have a heightened level of awareness of ongoing issues in policing and community relations.  BUDL has been actively looking for ways to change perceptions between youth and police in Baltimore and teamed up with the Baltimore Police Department and Outward Bound to begin those tough conversations. 16 students from seven schools across the city engaged in outdoor and leadership challenges to help build meaningful relationships with youth and police officers.  One of the many goals within our debate programs is to promote student voice and community engagement.  By presenting opportunities for students to engage in the community through conversations with people in training to become police officers, students and police are able to discuss their perceptions of one another and to work together overcoming challenges.  They all took the time to learn about each other, discuss future plans, and work together. These activities helped students and police officers have meaningful experiences with greater understanding and appreciation of each other.

EMS Program Manager, Leslie B. Stanton had the privilege of witnessing a student transformation last Friday and shares with us how these experiences shift perspectives and surprises all of us. “One of the students was very resistant and attention seeking in the morning. She disrupted, made many comments about how she should was going to leave at any moment, how she could walk home, how she wasn’t going to do any of the challenges, and generally looking to disrupt games and activities with questions and outbursts. As the day went on, she shifted in attitude as she engaged in the activities. A younger student paired up with her and I saw her take that student under her wing. After they did the climbing element, her tone had shifted. I saw a student who seemed to have learned that her role in the day mattered. At the end of the day she hugged about half a dozen officers. It was simply amazing!”  Thank you to those brave students and police officers for taking the time to bond and share with us some hope in overcoming challenges in the future.

Pat and Peter Handal alongside J4P & Associates are hosting BUDL’s public debate on Thursday OCT 27 from 11:30am to 12:30pm at the Eastside State Complex 1910 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21213.   Public debates bring attention to issues, raise awareness of the power  and wisdom of our youth voice, and encourage them to conceive themselves as agents of change.  
Chazz Johnson and Kaden Johnson from Calverton EMS will respectively partner with HS students Yasmine Arnett and Brianna Dower from Western to debate on the presidential candidates’ performances in the last three presidential debates.  BUDL is excited to hear from our student debaters their thoughts on how Trump and Clinton may improve their policy positions, arguments, and presentations.  A bit of advice from one debater to another!

Western High School has demonstrated exceptional leadership through debate.  In the first two months of the debate season, Western High School has been operating without a formal coach.  This obstacle has not prevented the Doves from ensuring they have a team that competes. Their team Captain Yasmine Arnett has not only competed at the highest level of Varsity Policy but has also tutored her younger teammates in debate and helped prepare them for the Novice level.  We are excited for this strong all-female team to develop this season.  Go Western!

Karis Joyner, Hamilton Middle School Student was asked, “What did you think about the debate last night?” She said, “it was very interesting. The part about the Supreme Court was very superior for both of them. They both had good plans. But some of the things Donald Trump said were very unbalancing. He would say one thing, and then Hillary would talk and then he’d change his answer.” She also commented that Trump seemed to have a history of being concerned about problems like heroin when it impacts white communities but when it impacts the black community “it’s not worth dealing with.” 
Sam Wernsdorfer, Roland Park Middle School Student, commented, “Something that really stood out for me was when Donald Trump tried to speak Spanish. He said ‘hambre’ which means hunger in Spanish, instead of ‘hombre,’ which is what he meant.” Sam, thanks for making all Spanish teachers proud!  Our young debaters are incredibly detail-oriented and listen carefully in debate rounds. We are delighted that they are splicing up debate arguments, listening to both sides, and making thoughtful conclusions with what is presented.  This post-debate analysis is intriguing and we hope to keep all of you updated on their thoughts post-election.  Thanks for your input Karis and Sam!


BUDL’s Debate 101 Workshops held its second session on October 20th. The session was led by a substitute alum debate extraordinaire, Nathan McTeer.  Substituting for the wonderful Iggy Evans, Nathan led a session of eight students from Western and Fredrick Douglass High Schools covering debate structure, strengthening cases, best practices to catch judges’ attention, and other novice issues.  If students would like to join and attend Debate 101 workshops with Iggy, Nathan, and others, connect with HS Program Manager, Aram Boykin at for more information.

On Friday, October 21st, college students from the John Hopkins University provided debate and college preparation help for BUDL students. This session is the first of a year long partnership with the students at JHU.  
We are excited about the opportunity for our students to receive one-on-one help from students of one of the premier institutions in the world.  
Thank you Vijay Ramasamy and friends for your partnership.  Be sure to keep a lookout for all of our Debate 101 workshop partners, supporters, and coaches in upcoming tournaments and say hello!


ems-2Join us on Saturday, OCT 29th for a Halloween costumed tournament held at Roland Park Elementary. It’s not too late to sign up and volunteer to become a debate judge and hear our elementary and middle school students debate on vacant housing in Baltimore.  E-mail EMS Program Manager Leslie B. Stanton at to get involved!
If you can’t make it this Saturday and are interested in debates on diplomatic and engagement between the U.S. and China, come judge High School Tournament #3 on NOV 12th. Connect with HS Program Manager Aram Boykin for more details at

Get ready to be amazed by our awesome debaters! Join us as a volunteer debate judge and listen to the powerful voices of our youth. Their passionate debates will make you think twice about what you think and know about vacant housing in Baltimore City.  If you can’t make it out to the first tournament, please come check us out on these other dates:
-EMS Tournament #2 – OCT 29  – Roland Park EMS
*Please wear Halloween costumes on Oct. 29 and get festive!
-HS Tournament #3 – NOV 12 (Check with Aram for location and times).
-EMS Tournament #3 – NOV 19 – Roland Park EMS
-HS Tournament #4- DEC 17 (Check with Aram for location and times).





Mahatma Ghandi said to “be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Other organizations use October to rally others into service in observance of this sentiment. We see Ghandi’s idea through debate! Actual change does not happen except through debate. Sometimes that debate is within ourselves as we seek to change habits. Other times, it is with others as we consider the status quo and its limitations. For change to be effective, we must engage in the debate with people who think differently from us. This makes our actions stronger. While there are things to celebrate, there are many needing change. This month, let’s use debate to lead the change! See something that needs to change? Start talking about it with others. Generate ideas. Act. Be the change.
~Coleen Reyes


Without you, BUDL could not provide after-school programming and competitive debate tournaments for students across the District.  Give a gift to BUDL and support the good work happening in Baltimore. Share us with friends and tell them about how debate matters in your life. 
Thank you for the debate love!