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Cornell to debate Harvard at State Theatre April 26

Four of the world’s top collegiate debaters will tackle the question “Is technology driving us in the wrong direction?” when the Cornell Speech and Debate program takes on Harvard at the State Theatre in Ithaca, April 26 at 7 p.m. The event will be moderated by S.E. Cupp ’00, host of the CNN show, “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered.”

Cornell’s history of debate is rooted in a commitment to civil discourse and was further strengthened by the Class of 1894, which established an endowment to ensure the tradition of critical thinking and free speech continues.

The event at the State Theatre in downtown Ithaca offers an opportunity for Cornell to engage with the community, said Sam Nelson, ILR School senior lecturer and director of the Cornell Speech and Debate program.

“We believe that not only should members of the Cornell community engage with each other through debate, but that we also need to engage our communities through debate as a tool for civic engagement,” he said.

The State Theatre event is one of several off-campus debates the program has planned for this year.

The technology question, chosen to reflect some of the issues explored through the ILR School’s theme project on “Technology and the Evolution of Work,” is a fundamental one at the center of the way we live, learn and work, Nelson said.

“Society has gone from carving figures on rock walls to lightning speed technological advances that feed us information at any given time, at any given location. Technology continues to push boundaries, capabilities and our comfort levels to new, unforeseen levels,” he said.

Debaters will examine all aspects of this topic, guided by Cupp’s probing questions and commentary. This is a family-friendly event and supports Cornell Speech and Debate’s mission of advancing civil discourse through community engagement and outreach programming.

City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 and Nelson will open the event with remarks.

Conservative commentator Cupp, who moderates hour-long debate on her nightly show, will be in charge of the discussion.

Debaters will be:

  • Adnan Muttalib ’16, MILR ’18
  • Brittany Garcia ’19
  • Danny DeBois, Harvard ’18
  • Archie Hall, Harvard ’20

DeBois and Hall are currently the top-rated collegiate debaters in the world.

Tickets, which can be purchased at the State Theatre box office in person or online at, are $12 for general admission and $10 for students, senior citizens and members of the military.

The event is sponsored by the Speech and Debate Program, the ILR School and Cornell Alumni Affairs and Development. Proceeds will benefit the Cornell Speech and Debate program.

Mary Catt is assistant director of communications at the ILR School.

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock