"The Debating Club held its first meeting in the auditorium on Thursday, November 3, 1933 during chapel period. The subject under discussion was "Resolved that the United States should recognize Soviet Russia." The team of only 16 members was lead by two presidents Edgar Kelly and David Walker. During that time, the faculty advisor was professor emeritus of political science at West Georgia College. Two years later in 1935, West Georgia entered into its first intercollegiate debate, setting a precedent for years to come.
From 1933 – 1970, the debate team almost exclusively on a local and regional level. West Georgia’s arrival on the national scene began in 1971, when Dr. Chester Gibson became the director of debate. Dr. Gibson would later ascend to the chair of the Mass Communications & Theater department, where the debate team would be housed until 2001. Dr. Michael Hester, who debated for and graduated from West Georgia (1989-1993) was hired as director of debate in 1995.
From 2001 until 2015, UWG Debate was a part of the Honors College as a part of the trans-disciplinary programs, with Dr. Hester serving as Dean of the Honors College 2012-2015. Dr. Hester and UWG Debate will be moving into the Office of the Provost beginning in July, 2015.
UWG Debate has earned recognition as a Top Ten program over the last 45 years. Highlights include:
- Back-to-back CEDA Nationals Champion in 2000 and 2001 (UWG is only the fourth school in history to win consecutive CEDA Nationals)
- CEDA Nationals runner-up in 1999 and 2013 (UWG is the only school in history to make the final round of CEDA Nationals for three consecutive years); CEDA semifinalists in 2009; CEDA quarterfinalists in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2015
- NDT Semifinalist in 1979 and 2002; Quarterfinalists in 1981, 1982, 1998, 2001, 2008, and 2013; Octafinalists in 1980, 1983, 1987, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2012
- Qualifying for the NDT for 38 consecutive years (1973-2010), the fifth longest streak in history; since 1995 – 11 First Round At-Large NDT bids, with teams in the NDT elimination rounds 18 of those 20 seasons (1996-2015).
- A Leader in Argument Innovation: the first school to win a national championship on a Kritik argument; the only school to ever win a round at the NDT running an affirmative with a 9 minute plan; the school that introduced both the gendered language K and the ableist language K as arguments to CEDA/NDT debate.
- A Leader in Diversity: the first all-female team to win a national championship; the first African-American to win a national championship; two African-American females won the ADA Novice National Championship in 2015, marking the third time UWG Debate has claimed a national title; of the 62 UWG Debaters who have competed at the NDT since 1993, 34 have either been female or a person of color.