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Colgate Speaking Union

The Colgate Speaking Union is an ensemble of student clubs focusing on the power, utility, and beauty of the spoken word and its skillful employment to achieve socially valued ends.
Members of the Colgate Speaking Union


The members of the Colgate Speaking Union (CSU) organize and facilitate on-campus Debate and Mock Trial tournaments, public debates, and speaking competitions. CSU members also compete in regional, national, and international tournaments. From New York to California, to Quebec, Peru, England and beyond, CSU members meet and compete with some of the brightest minds from around the world.

Competitions during the 2016-2017 academic year included tournaments at Ithaca College, Oxford University, Cambridge University, LaVerne University, Princeton University, Cornell University, University of Chicago, and McGill University.

Prior to the beginning of the 2016 academic year, the Spanish Language Debate Society (SLDS) traveled in to Córdoba Spain to compete in Campeonato Mundial Universitario de Debate en Español (CMUDE 2016), and competed again at CMUDE 2017 in Guatemala City in July.


  • Applying their liberal arts education, CSU teams converse and compete. 
  • They act as politicians as they advocate policies through parliamentary debate. 
  • They act as diplomats as they engage in strategic and respectful negotiations toward the creation of resolutions or the management of crises
  • They act as attorneys as they prosecute and defend.
  • They act as colleagues as they build consensus in group discussions. 
  • In sum, they gain practical experience and develop speaking skills suited to the pursuit of a fruitful public life.

Campus-Wide Public Speaking Contests

  • The Kingsford Prizes for Public SpeakingEst. April 26, 1881 by Thomson Kingsford with a gift of $1,000.  "Each contestant will deliver a speech that intends to persuade the immediate audience to take action toward the solution of a problem made salient by the speech."  For more information, see Contest Rules and Registration Guidelines.
  • The Lewis Orator Prize - Est. August 6, 1867 by Professor John James Lewis, with a gift of $1,000 in memory of his brother, Mr. George W.M. Lewis of Utica, NY. " Each contestant will deliver an original speech that is centered on a one-word prompt published by the competition's organizers prior to the competition.  The prompt must be used in the speech as a vehicle to elucidate some aspect of social reality in a new and memorable way."  For more information, see Contest Rules and Registration Guidelines.
  • The Stevenson Prize for Expository Speaking - Est. January 20, 1920 by Commander George E.T. Stevenson with a gift of $800.  "Each contestant will present a research paper that is based on independent research conducted by the contestant at Colgate University in connection with coursework."  For more information, see Contest Rules and Registration Guidelines.