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Smithsonian event for presidential inauguration to feature Wake Forest University Debate Team


January 6, 2009

Debaters from Wake Forest University will join students from five other universities to debate the priorities of the Obama administration at a Smithsonian Institution event tied to the presidential inauguration.

The debates will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan 19 at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium.

The Inaugural Debate Series is presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in cooperation with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Debate Consortium, with support from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. 

Top collegiate debaters will debate key issues facing the new administration.

Wake Forest students will meet students from Michigan State University to debate energy and climate change at 9:30 a.m.  The second debate will focus on health care and the economy, and the third will address foreign policy.   Each debate will last 75 minutes.

The debates mark the formal launch of the Debate Consortium, an initiative to help historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) develop the capacity to field high quality debate on crucial public policy issues.  Two of the schools participating in the Jan. 19 event, Voorhees College and Fayetteville State University, are historically black institutions that have made a commitment to revive debate on their campuses.  Other teams participating in the debate series include the University of Mary Washington and the University of Southern California.

“We're thrilled and proud to be a part of the activities surrounding this historic inauguration, especially since we have the opportunity to lend Wake Forest's debate tradition to the efforts to revive the tradition of debate at HBCUs,” said Ross Smith, director of debate at Wake Forest.  “Outreach and promotion of debate in the public sphere is an important part of our mission.”

Marie-Odile Hobeika, a senior philosophy major from Merrimack, N.H., and Rohit Nath, a senior economics major from Phoenix, Ariz., are the two Wake Forest debaters who will participate in the event.

Wake Forest University won the National Debate Championship in 2008.

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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