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Gonzaga Debate Institute

Gonzaga Debate Institute Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Recent events have brought a lot of change to our everyday lives and certainly to the high school and college debate communities. Over the past week we have seen cancellation of on-site major national tournaments as well as closures of K-12 and universities across the nation. Our hearts go out to all of you who worked so hard all year to prepare for your district, state, and national tournaments. I know how much this activity means to so many of you and share your disappointment in this season concluded. Although debate must take backseat to so many more “real life” implications that people are dealing with at the moment, your education remains important, and we intend to keep debate moving forward. In light of the above, and with consultation with senior faculty and university leadership, I want to outline our plans moving forward.

  1. The GDI will continue to monitor the evolving public health crisis and will make appropriate and timely decisions regarding any possible cancellation of our on-campus GDI based on government/university recommendations and/or restrictions. We will keep all of you informed of any decision that might make cancellation of an on-campus GDI unavoidable.
  2. We are still planning to host the GDI on-campus but want to be prepared should this crisis extend beyond the Spring. Later in the Spring we intend to a launch “GDI Online”. This online experience will allow us to A) host the summer institute even if we are unable to host an on-campus event B) provide an alternative for those who prefer an online experience even if we are able to host on-campus.
  3. “GDI online will utilize appropriate platforms, with any cost integrated into the cost of GDI Online. We will provide proper training and instruction for all platforms we use. We intend to proceed on a timeline that allows us to launch and test the GDI Online with plenty of time to provide advance tutorial to attending students. We also intend to be mindful of technological access issues when designing the platform.
  4. We intend to take very seriously the online privacy and security of our students. To that end there will be continual monitoring of our online spaces by faculty and staff. Remember, this isn’t just an online forum where we will be posting assignments/tasks. Rather we intend this to be a guided online that merges the uniquely experienced faculty with the need for online instruction.
  5. Any student currently enrolled will be automatically shifted to the GDI Online I if we are forced to cancel the on-campus GDI. A shift to the GDI Online will reduce your cost of attendance which will be reflected in an updated invoice. At any time if you decide you would like to switch from the on-campus GDI to the GDI Online please email us at gdistaff@gmail.com and we will process those changes.
  6. Finally, we value your input. In the next few days, we will send out a survey to gain an understanding of any concerns, reservations or suggestions you might have as we move forward.

We hope this has provided clarification and confidence that the GDI Online can move forward virtually and provide an exemplary summer debate experience just as we have for over 50 years. Thank you and please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Enrollment for the 2020 Gonzaga Debate Institute is Open!

  • 5 Week Scholars (Policy Debate)—Sunday, June 21 – Saturday, July 25
  • 5 Week Sophomores (Policy Debate)—Sunday, June 21 – Saturday, July 25
  • 4 Week Varsity and JV (Policy Debate)—Sunday, June 28 – Saturday, July 25
  • 2 Week Policy Debate (All experience Levels)—Sunday, July 12 – Saturday, July 25
  • 1 Week Public Forum (All experience Levels)—Sunday, July 5 – Saturday, July 11
  • 1 Week Lincoln Douglas (All experience Levels)—Sunday, July 5 – Saturday, July 11


For those of you new to the GDI here is a little information about who we are and what we do. The GDI has been hosted on the campus of Gonzaga University (WA) for over 50 years, making us one of oldest summer debate institutes in the nation. Over that time the GDI has developed a proven curriculum which has assisted thousands of students in developing their debate skills and preparing them for competition at all levels of experience. Whether a student’s goal is to win the TOC, NSDA, NDCA, their state championships, or just to develop some basic advocacy skills that will help them in any walk of life the GDI has a program and faculty that is right for you. In addition, we offer one of the most cost competitive pricing structures of any institute of our size and reputation including numerous scholarship and discount opportunities to help families cover the costs of attendance.  Debaters seeking a challenging, rewarding, and competitive summer should consider joining us for what promises to be another outstanding GDI experience.

This is what former TOC Champion and first round debater John Spurlock (Cal Berkeley) said about his multiple experiences at the GDI.

“I had an amazing time in beautiful Spokane my three summers at the Gonzaga Debate Institute. More importantly the Gonzaga Debate Institute formed me as a debater in every essential way. I learned intricate elements of debate theory and discussed and thought about debate one-on-one with incredibly experienced staff in a way that I never had before. I not only researched a hard to produce set of files that I would use the entire season, but I also learned the skills to quickly and efficiently research innovative arguments of all kinds in the future. I worked with lab leaders to perfect my speaking style, striving to both make the best argument and say those arguments in the best way possible. Most importantly, however, I developed a particular way of thinking about debate, a set of strategic and tactical skills that has shaped every single speech that I have given since. None of my success in high school debate would have been possible without the Gonzaga Debate Institute and I give it my highest recommendation.”

John Spurlock - 2014 TOC Champion

Want to connect with Gonzaga Debate?

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502 E. Boone
Spokane, WA 99258
(509) 313-6663