Volunteers Make Debate Possible.

Each year, the Boston Debate League works with hundreds of dedicated volunteers to make sure that every student who comes to every tournament has the opportunity to debate. By sharing their time and talent, volunteers ensure access to the transformative benefits of debate and affirm the notion that young people have important and valuable ideas to contribute to society.

YOUR ROLE:  Most BDL volunteers serve as volunteer judges, whose role is to listen to debates, share encouragement, offer advice for the next round, and inform tournament staff who won the debate. Some volunteers prefer to serve as tournament staff, whose role is to check other volunteers in, train judges, and run tournament logistics in the tab room. Whichever role fits your strengths and interests, we’ll train and support you throughout the day.

YOUR COMMITMENT:  Volunteers serve in shifts of 5-6 hours, with each shift covering two or three debates, training, and two meals. Most tournaments are on Saturdays, with morning and afternoon shifts available. Some tournaments also have shifts available on Friday afternoons. Volunteers tell us that they feel most confident and connected when they serve three shifts per season, but we can accommodate almost any level of commitment. 

ELIGIBILITY:  We welcome individuals and groups of any size from all backgrounds, identities, and abilities. No experience with debate or knowledge of the debate topic is necessary. Please contact us with any questions or concerns about your eligibility to serve or if you need accommodations to serve comfortably.

REGISTRATION:  We are currently in our summer off-season, but we’ll be back in the fall to kick off the 2020-2021 season. In the meantime, please join our email list to receive updates about the season, volunteer opportunities, and other events. 

Quick Links

    • Contact us with questions about volunteering as an individual or group
    • Join our email list to learn about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities

2020-2021 Debate Season Update

Although we are continuing to be flexible and responsive in planning and delivering programming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we anticipate offering a full calendar of virtual debate events and volunteer opportunities for the 2020-2021 debate season. Please stay tuned and join our email list to stay up to date.

Next year's debate topic will be criminal justice reform - a topic as important now as at any time in our country's history. This topic is as relevant and timely at it is complex and painful, and we recognize that we cannot treat this as simply an academic exercise. We are actively working to build partnerships with experts and activists to inform the arguments and materials that students will be engaging with, and to help us provide resources for students to navigate the trauma that can come from debating about oppressive practices of which they are often the victims. If you hold expertise in this area and would like to be involved, please contact us.

Judge Resources

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should enact substantial criminal justice reform in the United States in one or more of the following: forensic science, policing, sentencing.

Resources that are recommended for new judges are marked with an asterisk (*). Resources that are geared toward Varsity judges are marked with two asterisks (**). We'll be updating this page throughout the summer with additional resources as they become available.