The Yale Political Union was founded in 1934 as a companion to the Oxford Union
and the Cambridge Union. It is now Yale
's largest undergraduate group, and brings guests from across the political spectrum
to keynote debates. While the keynote speaker
is given a half hour or more to speak, student speeches are much shorter. Nevertheless, the ability to engage the speaker in debate
and have questions answered is entertaining and informative.
According to its website, "Recent guests of the Union have included Presidential candidates Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Bill Bradley, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, National Review Online Editor Jonah Goldberg, American Civil Liberties Union director Nadine Strossen, United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson, former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, and Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet."
There are also student-only debates, during which there is a chance to see more of the different Parties of the Political Union. Each of these parties has its own unique flavor.
The Liberal Party is the default party of most liberal students, and has informal debates with emphasis on policy and community service opportunities. It's motto is "we're the good guys".
The Progressive Party is for liberal students who are interested in parliamentary procedure or in mischief. Motto: "Just a bunch of jerks"
The Independent Party is for students who wish to participate in somewhat structured debates with liberals, conservatives, and many between. The party leanings vary greatly from year to year depending on its makeup.
The Tory Party offers formal and polite discussion of a centrist or conservative flavor. It is the most Anglophilic of the parties.
The Conservative Party specializes in conservative, highly-structured debate. It is also the newest party of the Union, having been founded in 1996.
The Party of the Right attracts both liberals and conservatives to debate more philosophical issues. It is also known for having the oldest and most unusual traditions.