Debate team wins third straight fall term ‘national championship’

The University of Michigan Debate Program, led by students Kelly Phil and Rafael Pierry, has won the 2022 66th annual Franklin R. Shirley Classic, widely considered the national collegiate debate championship of the fall semester.

The two LSA students captured the championship title, defeating Wake Forest University on a 2-1 decision in the final round. They did not lose a single debate during the competition, beating teams from Dartmouth, Harvard, Iowa and Emory en route to winning the tournament.

“We are thrilled with Kelly and Rafael’s undefeated performance and victory at the Shirley Classic,” said Aaron Kall, U-M director of debate. “It’s a great way to end the first semester on such a high note, which will provide us with a great amount of momentum going into 2023.”

In addition, the tournament victory concludes a tremendous first semester of debate for the U-M team.

Phil, a Taiwan native who is a junior majoring in political science, and Pierry, a senior political science and philosophy major from California, currently have a 41-4 overall record this year, as well as three tournament victories in the first semester.

The three-day tournament is hosted by Wake Forest University. More than 200 competitors from more than 50 institutions nationwide competed at the tournament last weekend.

In addition to winning the past three tournaments, U-M also won the Shirley Classic in 1996 and 2015.