The 2018 Lafayette Debates U.S. National Championship at La Maison Francaise will be held on Sunday, April 8.  The Lafayette Debates at The George Washington University will be held on Saturday, April 7th, and will serve as the qualifier for Sunday's championship debates. In addition over four hundred U.S. college students will take on the Lafayette Debates topic area at the University of Rhode Island (February 17-18), the U.S. Universities Debate Eastern Championships (February 24-25), the Claremont Colleges (March 3), and the U.S. Universities Debate Western Championships at Pacific Lutheran University (March 23-24).  Please contact us if you would like to register for or host a Lafayette Debates event at your school!  

Qualifying for the Lafayette Debates Young Ambassadors Study Tour to Paris

The top eight teams at the Lafayette Debates at GWU will qualify for quarterfinals single-elimination rounds at the Lafayette Debates U.S. National Championships at La Maison Francaise to debate before panels of judges possessing topic and/or communications expertise. The four debaters advancing to finals and the top three speakers at the awards ceremony and not otherwise qualifying will be awarded study tours to Paris on which they will continue their exploration of the 2018 Lafayette Debates topic area, Revolution & Resistance, in meetings with French scholars, activists and thought leaders. Debaters must attend the championship round and  awards reception to claim the study tour. The awards portion of the reception should conclude by 3:00  on Sunday.

Tournament Information

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the French Revolt & General Strike of 1968, the 2018 Lafayette Debates challenges students to grapple with the ethical questions raised by destructive, violent civil disobedience using the May 1968 Paris student protests a case study.


Sous les paves la plage

Topic Statement

In May 1968, protesting French students refused orders to disperse, ripped up cobblestones to hurl at Parisian police, and discovered underneath the cobblestones a thin layer of sand. The moment spawned the famous French protest slogan “Sous les paves la plage” (“under the paving stones, the beach”) and sparked massive general strikes and demonstrations widely regarded to have been the closest a Western democracy has ever come to political revolution.

Organized on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 French Revolt & General Strike and using the student protests of May 1968 as a case study, the 2018 Lafayette Debates challenge debaters to scrutinize the ethical questions raised by destructive, violent civil disobedience. Affirmative teams are asked to defend the slogan, “sous les paves, la plage” by arguing that the protesting French students of May 1968 were justified in defending their assembly by tearing up and hurling cobblestones at Parisian police. Negative teams are asked to rebut this proposition.

To assist teams in their preparations a statement of facts contextualizing the May 1968 protests will be provided to debaters before the tournament. The topic touches on a robust body of literature relating to, among other things, civil disobedience, just war theory, and social protest. Students are encouraged to conduct additional, independent research beyond the statement of facts.    

Statement of Facts


Lafayette Debates Young Ambassadors Study Tour

The Young Ambassadors Program is an annual study tour to Paris awarded to tournament champions on which debaters will continue their exploration of the 2018 topic area firsthand in discussions with French diplomats, politicians, academics and other French thought-leaders. During the tour the tournament champions serve as "Young Ambassadors" for their country. The study tour will be awarded to the top two eligible teams (finalists) and the top three eligible speakers (not otherwise qualifying by advancing to finals). Students must be U.S. citizens to qualify for the Young Ambassadors Study Tour.

Tournament Championship, Reception & Fees

The tournament championship and reception will be held at La Maison Française at the Embassy of France on Sunday, April 8th. The study tours will be awarded at the reception and students must attend to win. Fees for debaters and coaches attendingthe Lafayette Debates at La Maison Français are $100/person


As of January, the following hotels are ~$100 per night and are withing walking distance and/or a short drive to GWU:

One Washington Circle Hotel

Hotel Lombardy

Hilton Garden Inn Washington

Hyatt Place Washington

The following options are both reasonably priced, conveniently located to GWU (10-15 minute drive, metro accessible), and are more likely to have reasonably priced rooms available if you are booking later in the Spring:

Crystal City Marriott

Crystal Gateway Marriott


Saturday, April 7, The George Washington University

8:30 Check In & Breakfast

9:00 Welcome & Briefing

9:45 Round 1

12:00 Round 2


2:00 Round 3

5:00 Round 4

7:00 Awards & Breaks

Sunday, April 8, Embassy of France to the United States

8:30 Check In & Breakfast

9:15 Quarterfinals

10:45 Semifinals

12:45 Eastern Championship

2:00 Tournament Reception


Students will compete in teams of two students each. In each round one team will be assigned to defend the affirmative side of the topic and the other team will be assigned to defend the negative side of the topic. A topic and topic statement has been provided to guide students and judges. Students are also advised to carefully review the Judge Handbook that will be circulated to registered teams before the tournament.

Rounds will proceed as follows: 

  • 1st Affirmative Speaker: 6 minutes
  • Cross examination by 2nd Negative Speaker:  4 minutes
  • 1st Negative Speaker: 6 minutes
  • Cross examination by 1st Affirmative Speaker:  4 minutes
  • 2nd Affirmative Speaker:  6 minutes
  • Cross examination by 1st Negative Speaker:  4 minutes
  • 2nd Negative Speaker: 6 minutes
  • Cross examination by 2nd Affirmative speaker:  4 minutes
  • Preparation time: 2 minutes
  • Affirmative Rebuttal: 6 minutes
  • Preparation time: 2 minutes
  • Negative Rebuttal: 6 minutes

Each speaker on each team must give two of the team's four final rebuttals during preliminary rounds.