Working with an alumni committee spanning five decades, we have crafted a program for the day that strives to balance central programming with downtime to meet and converse with other alumni. Our two showcase events are an intergenerational debate between alumni Akhil Reed Amar, David Frum, Jake Sullivan, and Tim Willenken and a tribute to legendary coach Rollin Osterweis and our late alumnus Bill Buckley.
* Optional Activities: Venues recommended by the YDA, but drinks paid separately.
Sign in begins at 9 a.m. Coffee and light morning refreshments will be served.
If you arrive early, join classmates on Friday night for a traditional toasting at the venerated Mory's Club. Private rooms may be available for small groups (around 10 people); contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange.
Learn about the international debating association that has evolved since your Yale days. Led by Mark Longhurst ('09), our 2008 North American humorous speaking finalist, current members of the YDA will discuss the tournaments, debate style, and other activities of the team now. A shortened demo debate will demonstrate the contemporary American Parliamentary Debate Style.
Celebrate Rollin "Rolly" G. Osterweis, the beloved YDA coach from 1948-1979. Arranged speakers will reminisce about Osterweis' days commanding the YDA, and audience members will be invited to speak impromptu.
To learn more about Osterweis, read the page about him on our main site. Upon the retirement of Professer Osterweis in 1979, Yale faculty founded the Osterweis Memorial High School Tournament in his honor to promote debate in local public schools. The YDA continues to host this tournament annually, in commemoration of the beloved coach's life and debate work.
In light of the recent passing of our renowned alumnus William F. Buckley ('50), we will hold a companion tribute in his honor. Buckley was a provocative political figure at Yale and went on to be an influential writer and political commentator. Bob Weinberg ('53) and other alumni will deliver tribute speeches about his time on the YDA.
Afternoon Optional Sessions
We've planned a range of activities, from tours led by current debaters to scholarly lectures and discussions by alumni.
Feast on fine French cuisine at Union League. Enjoy the harmony of a string quartet. Suits for men and the equivalent for women."
After cocktails, join (or observe) an impromptu debate between alumni volunteers, punctuated by floor speeches and chaired by Mark Longhurst ('09), the YDA's 2008 North American Championship humorous speaking finalist.
Speeches and Debates
Most of the activities throughout the reunion will occur in Linsley-Chittenden Hall (LC), a beautifully restored academic building on Old Campus across from Johnathan Edwards College. The day will begin with a reception in the foyer. All other facilities that we will use are within short walking distance of LC.
The Osterweis and Buckley tributes will be held at Zinc on Chapel Street. This restaurant serves modern American food in a sophisticated, urbane atmosphere. We have reserved the entire space for our event, and it will be lighted and configured to suit the tribute.
The closing dinner of the Centennial will be served at Union League, also on Chapel Street. This restaurant, an old and elite favorite in New Haven, serves fancy French cuisine in a wood-paneled space above street level. Again we've reserved two whole rooms for our dinner, as well as a piano for live music played by one of our own debaters. During the dinner, all guests will be treated to an open bar.
YDA Archives Display
Three cases in the Memorabilia Room of Sterling Memorial Library are filled with debate and Osterweis memorabilia. While the Library is a few blocks from LC, the exhibit is well worth the hike. The Room is accessible on the weekends from Wall Street, across from Yale Law School.
From 3-6pm, you may choose among five programmed options, or pursue independent activities on campus. The program options are as follows:
Samples from the YDA's archives are exhibited in the Memorabilia Room of Sterling Memorial Library. While enjoying light refreshments, view team photos from 1896 (during the precursor of the YDA) to 1966, old debate contracts, old awards, newspaper articles on the YDA, lecture notes from Professor Rollin Osterweis' famous History of American Oratory class, and Professor Osterweis' correspondence as debate coach. We also have Banner articles on the YDA from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Tour campus with one of the official Yale tour guides. These tours will be small and flexible. They'll add a bit of history about the YDA along the way.
Panel 1: Verdicts: The Obama v. McCain Debates
Hear your fellow alumni discuss all three presidential debates. Each panelist will give commentary and opine an overall winner, then answer questions from the audience. An inside researcher on the Obama campaign will then take questions about his job preparing his candidate for the debates. The results of the YDA alumni poll on the outcome of the debates will be presented here.
Speakers: Orin Kramer ('62), Professor Akhil Reed Amar ('80), Aaron Zelinsky ('06), Ned Cabot ('60). Special member: Jake Sullivan ('98).
Panel 2: What I Wish I'd Known About Public Speaking, Sooner Rather Than Later
Insights on public speaking gained after debating for Yale. Here we will distribute printed answers to the alumni survey question: What is your favorite memory of using a debate skill in your professional life?
Speakers: Deborah Rhode ('74), Jan Costello ('72), Joshua Johnson ('06), Stephanie Vardavas ('77)
Panel 3: Debate in Unconventional Contexts
Hear about the unusual places that these alumni have taken their debating: the profession of acting, the method of composing poetry, the study of philosophy, and even a political meeting with Hamas in Qatar!
Speakers: Marvin Chatinover ('49), David Slavitt ('56), David Frum ('82), Tamar Gendler ('87), Fred Meyer ('59)