The 2015 RUDU executive board elections will occur on December 9th, 2014. The individuals who have self nominated for the executive board elections are:

President: Nick Hansen and Sean Leonard

PR Chair: Elise Zhou

Novice Mentor: Jessie Gugig

Below are the candidate statements by position:


Nick Hansen: (A note in this candidate statement; in the official statement of rules for this election, the graduating seniors failed to specify that candidate statements must be written.  Therefore, this candidate statement was pre-screened to ensure that it was below the 750 word cap, which it was

Sean Leonard:

Hi, I’m Sean Leonard, and I’m running for President of the Rutgers University Debate Union. I have three independent points as to why you should vote for me.

Firstly, I’m one of the most active debaters on the team. Over the course of my last two years on the team, I’ve attended every tournament that our team has sent people to. In addition to that, I’ve missed a grand total of two meetings; One due to a snowstorm, and the other due to having to leave early to go to a tournament. Having officers who are around to represent the team is an incredibly important thing due to the fact that it serves as a connection for newer members of the team. Rewarding, and ensuring, an active varsity is especially important in the current climate of the team, considering that fact that our participation has been relatively lackluster, at least when you compare it to what we’ve had in the past few years. This also allows me to be there for say, our Novice Mentor to participate in training, which I’ve done to a fairly large extent over the past year.

Secondly, I’ve got a lot of experience on the eboard. Over the course of the last year, I served as the Vice President of the Debate Union, which is one of the most work intensive positions on the eboard. As a position that generally embodies busy work, people can be sure that I won’t shy away from any of the things take up a lot of time. Considering the duties of the President are mostly putting in registration for tournaments, and making sure that we have things like rental cars, and other things necessary for getting to those tournaments, I’ll be more than able to deal with these considering I’ve already dealt with the busy work of being Vice President. In addition to that, just being a part of the eboard has shown me how to deal with these issues, meaning that it will take me very little time to transition between the positions.

Thirdly, I’m a good person to represent our team on the circuit. In addition to the regular responsibilities of say, registering for tournaments, the President is also the person who has to vote at APDA meetings. In this capacity, the President of RUDU is our representative in APDA’s political climate. Not only do I have connections to most of the schools on the circuit, I’ve also served on the Novice Mentor committee for two years in a row, even being appointed the Southern Events Coordinator of the committee. Serving in these positions has given me insight into the way that the APDA board works, and understanding that political climate can have significant benefits to the team in the form of ensuring our preferences are heard, and acted upon within the league as a whole.

Hopefully I’ll be able to answer any specific concerns during my speech during elections, but until then, consider voting for me!

——- PR Chair ——-

Elise Zhou:

I would like to run for Public Relations Chair and would do a good job in the position because of my past experiences with increasing membership in and awareness of a club, as well as knowing what would appeal to potential members.
In high school, I was the president for the French Honor Society and the secretary for the National Honor Society. In being the president of a relatively small French Honor Society, one of my main goals senior year was to increase membership and interest in not only the honor society but also the language itself. My executive board and I achieved this by spreading the word to the middle and elementary schools as well as encouraging struggling French students by offering tutoring programs that would help qualify them for the honor society. This could similarly be applied to debate because I think that there are a lot of benefits to debate that only debaters really know about. I believe that making the Rutgers community, particularly freshmen, aware of these benefits will increase our overall membership and reputation in the university. I have plans to do so by increasing the debate team’s presence in the activity fair during the beginning of the year, since that is when students are the most impressionable and open to exploring new activities. I worked at similar activity fairs every year in high school, so I know generally what to do. Plus, having been bombarded by clubs just this past semester, I understand what sticks out to incoming freshmen and what they are looking for in a club.
I also look forward to creating more opportunities for public debates and coordinating this with the political science, communications, and history departments so professors as well as students are aware of the debate team. I am already in touch with such professors because of the classes I have taken, and most of them would be more than happy to help publicize debate. Public debates are a great way not only to display the talents of our current members, but also to let students see what skills you hone through debate. A lot of students are looking to improve their public speaking and communication skills, and increasing public debates will continue to advertise the team.
​I would also do well in terms of organizing things like shirts and coordinating with the university as to when and where to spread the word because of my secretarial experience in National Honor Society. Having had a lackluster executive board my senior year, I contacted companies to order cords and tassels and helped run a blood drive as well. I had to keep minutes at meetings and record when and where students volunteered as well as report to the school administration, so I believe that I can jump right into handling promotional material for the debate team and coordinating proper times to publicize debate through the school administration.
​I really love debate, not only because of the people on our team but also because of the nature of the activity, and I think it’s truly a shame that most people I talk about it with do not even know it exists. It has already become my sole extracurricular activity and I enjoy being a part of this niche. I believe that our team deserves to get it’s name out to the university community and I would love to continue building our reputation as one of the university’s most notable academic activities and encourage membership in the coming year.

—— Novice Mentor—–

Jessie Gugig

I’m Jessie Gugig, and I intend to run for the position of Novice Mentor in the upcoming Rutgers Debate Union Executive Board elections. The Rutgers Debate Union has shrunk this year to an intolerable degree, and in the spring, as well as in the fall of next year, measures will need to be taken in order to counteract this. These measures include active recruiting, not the simple posting of fliers and watching as students, usually freshmen, wander in and out of practices. In the past, prospective novices have attended meetings to get a feel for what the team is about, only to be ignored, or not given the attention required to make them feel welcomed and inclined to return.

Assuming that novice prospectives attend meetings with some level of interest in what happens during them, more efforts should be taken by the novice mentor to include these students in the meeting, or to take them aside and teach them about debate to such an extent that they feel included. If the novice mentor (and the team at large) prioritizes current members, overwhelmingly varsity members, over the novices, membership numbers will only continue to shrink. Novice retention after freshman year is what leads to a growth in the team over time, instead of the shrinking we are currently experiencing.

So what is it that can I do about this? Seeing as I don’t personally prize my own tournament performance as long as I continue to improve, I have no problem spending practice nights working with novices and prospective novices so that other varsity team members can focus on their own efforts without feeling bogged down. Further, I have no problem with taking a novice to every tournament if needed, as I’m not seeking any sort of higher recognition in the circuit as a whole. I’m also more than happy to create and enact an actual training plan for novices, helping to pair novice/novice teams together based on their strengths and weaknesses instead of letting the pairings fall together as they will based on novice tournament attendance.

While I may currently be a novice myself, and am not the most knowledgeable person about the ins and outs of debate, I know enough to teach to a framework, and to help future novices succeed. Further, I think it is most important to help expand the team in a way that doesn’t discount novices, more than it matters to have a select few novices who are exceedingly well versed and competition minded. In the past, the team has had a practice of forcing novices to get by almost on their own, a problem that has only been exacerbated this semester. My personal goal is to make future novices not only feel welcomed to, but valued by the team. The learning process should not be an inconvenience, but an ongoing process contained in being a member of the debate team. If elected as future Novice Mentor, I would work to make this true in regards to the team.