Members of Inaugural Cal Poly Spanish-language Debate Team Ranked as World Finalists

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly Spanish-language debate team members Megan Boyd and Yessenia Sanchez finished as finalists at the Campeonato Mundial Universitario de Debate en Español (CMUDE).

Held July 15-24 at the University of Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City, CMUDE is the largest international Spanish-language university debate competition. Throughout the 10-day competition, Boyd, a biology senior from Lake Forest, Calif., and Sanchez, a business senior from Hollister, Calif., competed with about 300 other participants from around the world.

The two Cal Poly students argued their way to the final round in the Spanish as a Foreign Language category, competing against world-class teams from Venezuela, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain and Guatemala, among others.

“Boyd and Sanchez’s groundbreaking success in the CMUDE represents the expansion of the Cal Poly debate team into the Spanish language world of debate,” said Marion Hart, Cal Poly Spanish-language team coach and a professor in the World Languages and Cultures (WLC) Department.

“This extends Cal Poly’s historic recognition in the national and international worlds of competitive academic debate,” added Christopher Skiles, director of forensics at Cal Poly.   

The Cal Poly debate program initiated its first Spanish-language debate team in January 2017, under Hart’s direct coaching. With guidance from Skiles and Assistant Director of Forensics John Patrick, Hart worked with a dedicated group of seven students to launch this new addition to the longstanding Cal Poly debate program.

During the upcoming 2017-18 academic year, the Cal Poly debate team will participate in four intercollegiate debate tournaments in the fall and six during winter quarter. Internationally, the team is planning to attend the World University Debating Championship in Mexico City, the Pan-Pacific Debate Championships in Hawaii, the Pan-American University Debate Championship, and the 2018 CMUDE in Chile.

In addition to tournament competition, Cal Poly Debate will sponsor two debate training workshops targeting the Spanish-speaking educational communities in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. 

Cal Poly Debate will continue to offer both English- and Spanish-language debate. Participation is open to any undergraduate student in good standing. To learn more about the debate program at Cal Poly, contact Skiles at, Patrick at or Hart at


About the Cal Poly Debate Team
Student debating has been a part of campus life in San Luis Obispo since the university opened its doors as California Polytechnic School in 1903. Cal Poly debaters compete with the brightest students from some of the world's most prestigious universities in intercollegiate debate tournaments. English- and Spanish-language debaters conduct in-depth research on questions of major contemporary importance, participate in strategy sessions with instructors and other students, and engage in intense oral debates with students from other universities. Tournament competition is the capstone experience for Cal Poly Debate.

Contact: Christopher Skiles

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