Matthew Harris-Ornstein

Washington Summer Debate Institute

The Matthew Harris Ornstein Washington Summer Debate Institute is hosted each year by the Washington Urban Debate League in partnership with the Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation. The Institute provides an intense but fun debate experience that will prepare debaters for the coming competitive season and beyond.

The summer institute is named in honor of Matthew Harris Ornstein, a former debater who found his voice, his confidence, and a home in the debate community. The Matthew Harris Ornstein Outstanding Debater award is given in his honor to the student who best reflects Matthew’s values.

Novice Lab #1, aka "Alpha Lab", during before the camp tournament at Georgetown University

We will offer 5 different levels of working groups to ensure that every student is appropriately challenged: ​

2 Week Novice Labs 

  • 2 Week Transition to JV Labs 

  • 2 Week Junior Varsity Labs 

  • 2 Week Transition to Varsity Labs 

  • 3 Week Varsity Labs (starting earlier)

“Novice” labs will provide an exciting challenge for those new to competitive debate

"Junior Varsity" labs are for those who have been to the summer institute before, and/or have competed a bit during the regular season.

"Varsity" labs are for returning students looking to sharpen their research skills, go over advanced forms of argumentation, and provide lots of hands-on practice to hone their skills in preparation for regional competition. 

We pride ourselves on a low student to faculty ratio throughout the program to ensure that each student receives a personalized and engaged institute experience. Breakout sessions in small lab groups are designed for students to expand their intellectual horizons.

The Institute has a proven track record of improving a debater’s skills. Many of the most competitively successful students in the WUDL attended the summer institute. Participation makes the jump from Novice to JV, or from JV to Varsity easy, and can help students prepare for regional travel.