The Princeton Debate Panel, also known as the PDP, is one of the premiere collegiate debating societies in the country. Throughout the year, the PDP competes in weekly tournaments across the country sanctioned by the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA), of which Princeton was a founding member.
Princeton’s historical success has been unrivaled since APDA’s founding in 1983. A Princeton team, composed of two individuals, has won the Team of the Year (TOTY) award a record eight times and the Speaker of the Year Award (SOTY) a record nine times. The PDP is also one of the world’s premier international debating squads, with teams consistently reaching late elimination rounds.
Many of PDP’s debaters have also gone onto outstanding post-graduation success. Post-debate careers have ranged from for-profit positions at McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley to non-profit positions such as clerkships for the Supreme Court and membership in the United States Senate.
Post-debate graduate school destinations have included Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Cornell Law, MIT, Oxford, and Cambridge. Alumni have also won prestigious awards, including the Rhodes Scholarship, the Marshall Scholarship, and the Fulbright Scholarship.
Most notably, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ’72 was president of the PDP during his time as an undergraduate. Other famous Princetonians connected to the PDP include Jason Goldman ’99 (an influential executive at Google and Twitter who was ranked the top debater and team in the nation and top debater in North America), Senator Ted Cruz ’92 (a well-known legislator from Texas who was ranked the top debater and team in the nation and top debater in North America), Judge Andrew Napolitano ’72 (an influential political analyst), Joseph S. Nye ’58 (one of the most prominent international relations scholars in the United States), John Foster Dulles ’08 (arguably the most influential diplomats of the century), and Woodrow Wilson ‘1879 (who coached the team while on faculty).
The PDP also hosts two debate tournaments during the year. Each December, the Princeton Classic offers Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate as well as Student Congress and Individual Events for high school competitors in the National Forensic League. In the spring, the PDP hosts the Adlai E. Stevenson Memorial Debate Tournament, one of the largest and most prestigious collegiate parliamentary debate tournaments in the nation.
For more on the history of PDP, check out our timeline.