On the Constitutionality of Gerrymandering

Students Hone Debate Skills at 2018 Langfan Family Undergraduate Constitutional Oratory Competition

On April 22, Yeshiva University students gathered in Furst Hall on the Wilf Campus to compete in the 2018 Langfan Family Undergraduate Constitutional Oratory Competition. The annual competition was hosted by the Pre-Law Advising Office and is traditionally considered an avenue for pre-law students to sharpen their debate skills, though any undergraduate can compete.

The topic of this year’s event was “Partisan Gerrymandering: Should the Judiciary Review the Constitutionality of Gerrymandering Schemes Adopted on Allegedly Political Grounds?” Participants were judged on many criteria, including the clarity of their argument, the research and evidence used to support it, whether they anticipated counter-arguments and the overall delivery of the speech. Judges’ critiques offered each speaker the opportunity to improve their technique for future debates.

This year, Neta Chizhik and Shayna Doretsky took first place for the Israel Henry Beren Campus and Avi Strauss and Nolan Edmonson for Wilf. Each winner was awarded a monetary prize which was sponsored by William Langfan, a longstanding supporter of YU who believes it is important to give students public speaking opportunities.

“This was my first time participating,” said Chizhik. “I enjoy doing legal constitutional research, I like debating and presenting and thought it would be a great opportunity to do that.”

“For people who want to go into law, it is good for them to have these five minutes of being in the hot seat,” said participant Yaakov Faratci. “They get to experience what they’re investing themselves in.”