Frequently Asked Questions

What do we need to pack? Linens? Towels?

Students staying at UCLA do not need to bring linens, pillows, blankets or towels. UCLA provides those items.

Each person has different needs when away from home, but here are some things to consider:

Students have access to recreational facilities. If you would like to swim or play any sports, you should bring appropriate attire.

Evenings do get chilly, but it will be warm during the days.

UCLA also provides shampoo and soap. The bookstore is also close to the dorm in case something else is needed.


Do We have to Dress Up for Anything?

No. Students can dress casually through the entire program.


How do I choose a program and Event?

We have programs for students at all experience levels. We also have programs for students who have a wide variety of reasons for taking a summer debate program - competitive or not.

Our most recommended session is our *two-week flagship *(July 13-24; residential July 12-25).

If you cannot attend that session, our 1-week sessions offer Middle School Debate and Beginner/Intermediate Lincoln-Douglas.

Anyone in grades 5-8 should sign-up for the MSPDP(unless instructed otherwise by a debate coach). MSPDP is the competitive format used by most of the Middle Schools in Los Angeles. It is also the format used in the communications requirement in 8th grade debate at Harvard-Westlake.

If you have done MSPDP and are now entering grades 9-12(and would like to continue competing in the parliamentary format) you should sign-up for the World Schools program. There are an increasing number of World Schools events in Southern California, and students can try-out for Team USA. This is the format that will be most familiar to anyone who did MSPDP.

If your school has an active Lincoln-Douglas, Policy Debate or Speech Team and you'd like to compete in those formats, you should register for one of those.

If your school does not participate Lincoln-Douglas, Policy Debate or Competitive Speech or if you are not planning on participating in competitive debate/speech you should register for the Public Speaking and Argumentation program.

The reason we recommend that program for non-competitive debaters is because LD, Policy and Speech are specifically for students who plan on competing in those events the following season. They will learn about nuance and strategy specific to competitive debating in that format. Certainly kids who are not planning on doing competing in debate will learn a lot of different stuff, but if the goal is to practice public speaking and argumentation, there would be a lot of stuff that isn’t applicable in the LD, Policy and Speech programs.

It would be like going football camp to work on running.

The Public Speaking and Argumentation Program will strip away a lot of the proprietary strategy of the specific competitive activities.

We do not have any events that require anything beyond casual clothing. No one needs to dress-up as if they are going to a real tournament.

There are opportunities for recreation both on the HW campus and at UCLA. Students should bring approproriate attire and footwear if they would like to participate.


What does a typical daily schedule look like?

For the two-week flagship program, we anticipate that it will roughly look like this:

*8:00am: Bus to Harvard-Westlake from UCLA
9:00am: Lab
12:00pm: Lunch
1:00pm: Elective 1 - for kids that might want to crossover and do some speech work or maybe in-depth philosophy, practice debates, etc
2:30pm: Elective 2 - another optional elective
4:00pm: Lab
*6:00pm: Bus to UCLA
*7:00pm: Dinner

We will provide breaks during the day that are age approproriate.

*Only for residential students

Our one-week programs are similar, but will conclude at 3:00pm.

8:45am: Check-in
9:00am: Topic Overview/Preparation
11:30am: Lunch
12:30pm: Debate Round
1:30pm: Debate Round
2:30pm: Intro to next day topic 3:00pm: Dismissal

*students must be picked up by 3:15.


Where on the UCLA Campus Will Residential Students Stay?

Students will stay at DeNeve Hall - UCLA's best dorm facilities.

You can find specifics by going to our UCLA Facilities page.


For residents, will there be activities in the evenings/weekend?

Some of the evenings will have a variety of different activities.

  • SAT/ACT Prep
  • College Counseling
  • Additional Debate Work (No Fee)
  • Debate-related Guest Speakers (No Fee)
  • Visiting Santa Monica Pier
  • Universal Studios

The weekend will have options that fall in the categories of Debate, Academic or Recreational. I imagine that students will be able to do different things. Obviously some things might be all-day events (like going to Universal). But some may want to do some debate work during the day then go see a movie in Westwood in the afternoon. We will have chaperones for those things.

Nothing will be mandatory in the evenings and weekends (although we will take attendance).


If we are flying into LA, when should we arrive? Do you have a shuttle?

We will have an airport shuttle that will take students from LAX to UCLA.

On Sunday, July 12, please arrive at LAX between 9:00am and 3:00pm. A debateLA staff member will meet you at your baggage claim and escort you to the shuttle.

On Saturday, we will begin shuttle service at 6:00am. If you are planning on taking the shuttle, do not schedule your flight to leave earlier than 8:00am on Saturday the 25th.


When should residential students arrive (if not arriving in LA by plane)?

Please arrive by 5:00pm on Sunday evening (July 12).


Will residents be able to choose their roommate? 

We will accomodate roommate requests to the best of our ability.

A roommate request form will be availble in early June.

Please note that we will only place students together who have each requested one another.

Some people may not have specific roommate requests. In that case, we will place students with an age-appropriate roommate.


Will there be chaperones at UCLA? How about security?

Harvard-Westlake will hire adults to be on-site at UCLA to be the chaperones. Obviously UCLA has very good security with key-access buildings and walking police that patrol through the night.

Mike Bietz, the director, has been running summer debate programs at UCLA for over a decade. Although there has never been a major incident involving dorm security, UCLA is always very responsive when questions arise.


Are students required to have laptops?

If you are enrolled in an MSPDP session, you do not need to bring a laptop. In fact, just leave it at home.

If you are enrolled in any other program, we strongly recommend bringing a laptop.