Debate duo sets new records, paves way to national competition

Debate champions Aliyah Shaheed and Genelle Murray are photographed in front of the Malcolm X mural on the Cesar Chavez Student Center

From left: Debate champions Aliyah Shaheed and Genelle Murray, both seniors, took home the top prize at the recent District 1 regional tournament, marking the first time SF State has won a regional competition.

After beating five teams in head-to-head matchups, San Francisco State University debaters Genelle Murray and Aliyah Shaheed not only took home the top prize at the recent District 1 regional tournament, they marked several other historic milestones.

It’s the first time the University has won the regional tournament, held Feb. 21 and 22 at the University of Southern California, said Teddy Albiniak, SF State's forensics director. "It's the first time in my memory that a team of two Black women have taken home the trophy," he said. The recent victories continue a run of successes that includes a win over a previously undefeated Harvard team.

Shaheed was recognized as the third top overall speaker; Murray was recognized as the fifth. 

With this win, the SF State forensics team qualifies to compete with the best collegiate teams in the country at the National Debate Tournament in Binghamton, New York, at the end of March.

"We are so excited to add another moment of history-making to an impressive list this semester of competition," said Albiniak. "Simply getting to the National Debate Tournament seemed like a lofty goal at the beginning of the year. To occupy the top seed from California is a feat that testifies to the hard work, dedication and courageous spirit of this team."