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The Raft Debate

A William & Mary tradition!

The 2020 Raft Debate has been postponed!

The Raft Debate originally scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020 will be rescheduled due to university restrictions in response to the coronavirus. This page will be updated as soon as a new date has been chosen.

The Raft Debate is free and open to the public. Seating in the auditorium is limited to the first 450 people. Overflow seating will be in Tidewater AB where the debate will be broadcast. Those viewing from Tidewater will not be able to vote at the end of the debate, so be sure to arrive early and get a seat in Commonwealth Auditorium!

Watch the 2019 Debate LiveStream

Described as a "delicate balance of comedy and lecture", the annual Raft Debate features four W&M faculty members from diverse disciplines, stranded on a desolate island with only a one-person life raft for escape to civilization. Which faculty member should survive for the sake of humanity? Based on the volume of applause, the audience chooses the sole survivor as the professors cajole, plead, pontificate, and resort shamelessly to props and costumes.

2020 Raft Debate PosterThe quirky event originated in the mid-1900s and was revived in 2002 by the Graduate Center, the A&S Office of Graduate Studies and Research, and the A&S Graduate Student Association. Faculty participants represent the Humanities, the Social Sciences, or the Natural and Computational Sciences. The Devil's Advocate, who argues sarcastically that none of the academic disciplines are worth saving, has on occasion emerged victorious.

Meet the 2020 raft debaters!

Humanities: David Grandis, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras.

Social Sciences: Jennifer Stevens, Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences.

Sciences: Josh Erlich, Professor of Physics

Devil's Advocate: Josh Gert, Leslie and Naomi Legum Distinguished Professor and Chair of Philosophy.