Introducing FIRE Debates: Free to Disagree!

August 31, 2015

As FIRE supporters know, free debate and discussion are all too rare at America’s colleges and universities. Students are increasingly being convinced that there are some topics on which they shouldn’t be free to disagree. If our nation’s liberal education is to fulfill its promise of promoting critical thinking, that needs to change—and soon. That’s why this year, FIRE is launching a new program that will bring the free exchange of ideas directly to college students: FIRE Debates.

Throughout this academic year, FIRE will be hosting four debates at major college campuses across the country. We’re proud to announce that for two of these debates, FIRE will be working with Intelligence Squared U.S., the nation’s premier debate organization.

The first debate of the series is on October 20, 2015, at Texas A&M University, where two debaters will go head-to-head, arguing both sides of the following motion: College athletes should be paid.

FIRE Debates will bring leading figures to colleges and universities for Oxford-style debates on controversial topics relevant to today’s students. The debates will remind students that free inquiry and open discussion play a central role in both education and democracy. FIRE aims to show students across the country that open debate and dialogue is not harmful or detrimental, but healthy, productive, and fun.

FIRE’s new initiative is a way to show college students that debate on any topic can be a fulfilling exercise. In an ideal world, the athletic practice of “good sportsmanship”—the ability to walk away from even the fiercest competition and shake hands with the opposing side—would extend to college campuses. With each debate, students will learn that even ideological foes can walk away gracefully. FIRE hopes that students will come to the debates with an open mind and leave with a better understanding of opposing viewpoints and a renewed attitude that all students’ and speakers’ opinions deserve to be heard.  

Continue checking FIRE’s website for more details about our debates!


FIRE Student Network: 215-717-3473;