The Rutgers University Debate Union (RUDU) closed its most successful season of all-time with the annual Senior Banquet, held this year upstairs in the Livingston Dining Commons. About half of the 56 students who competed in at least one tournament this year attended, celebrating the 3rd College of the Year standing for Rutgers in the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) and the seven graduating seniors who gave their farewell speeches to the club.
Jason Boyle, Katerina Dimitrusheva, Leland Perice, Archana Babu, Bhargavi Sriram, Nisha Kumar, and Chris Bergman gave Senior Speeches in the first half of the three-hour program. Each was introduced by a close friend on the team who regaled the crowd with stories of their early time on the Debate Union and what they felt was meaningful about that person’s contribution to their lives. The respective introducers for the seven seniors were Shireen Hamza, Gabi Cozzolino, Arbi Llaveshi, Daimler Vadlamuri, Deepta Janardhan, Rachel Moon, and Ashley Novak. Many speakers focused on the sense of inclusion and welcomeness on RUDU and what they were able to get out of their time with debate. The last three speakers dispensed advice on what to focus on for those with debating still ahead of them, with Bergman closing on the recommendation that people step out of their ordinary experiences as much as they can.
Senior Bhargavi Sriram closed her speech with passing on Farhan Ali’s “beepy timer” to Deepta Janardhan. The ceremonial award is given by a graduating senior on the team to a non-senior to honor their perseverance and dedication to the team. She also gave the Senior Gift, a new tradition this year, on behalf of the seniors, which was a camera for recording practice rounds and competitive rounds for use by the team. Coach Storey Clayton closed the speeches with a brief statement thanking the team for their hard work and dedication and reminding them to not forget how far the team has come in a short number of years, thanks to the contributions of every last person on the squad.
The night continued with a game of “RUDU Feud!”, a take on Family Feud about various attributes of members of the Rutgers team. The game was run by Deepta Janardhan and Henry Phipps. The night then concluded with Henry Phipps’ slideshow of the year, set to music, and the annual iconic team photo, seen above.
Below is a list of the members of RUDU and their status heading into next year. All made significant contributions to the club this year in its most successful and storied year in the history of debate at Rutgers.