William & Mary student Aaron Murphy ’15 recently became the highest-ranked parliamentary debater in the United States and has earned the American Parliamentary Debate Association title of Speaker of the Year.
Along with the top-speaker title, Murphy and his William & Mary Debate Society partner, Jerusalem Demsas ’17, are the second-highest ranked regular season team in the APDA. The pair will compete at the American Parliamentary Debate National Championship April 17-19 at the College of New Jersey.
“I couldn’t have made it here alone,” said Murphy, a math major. “I had a lot of help. But I hope the fact that I’ve made it here at all will cause others to believe they can make it too – other people who were told they never could.”
The APDA is an intercollegiate debating league comprised of more than 80 universities. The top-speaker ranking is calculated based on an individual’s top six performances at one of about 40 regular-season debate tournaments held over the course of the year, according to a press release from Venu Katta ’17, media manager for the William & Mary Debate Society.
Past undergraduate speakers of the year have included: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (1992), New York Assistant Attorney General John Oleske (1997), various faculty at Georgetown and University of Chicago Law Schools and employees of such organizations as UNICEF and Google, the release said.
The William & Mary Debate Society is the top-ranked debate team among all public colleges and universities in the nation this year, as measured by the ADPA’s College of the Year rankings, said Katta. The society is advised by David Gosser, instructor of speech, and includes approximately 70 members who compete at about 20 regular season tournaments throughout the year.