LEWISTON — The entire Bates College debate team, which has a storied history, has resigned, claiming an adviser obstructed their ability to maintain an inclusive culture and compete.

The Bates Student, the college newspaper, broke the news of the turmoil within the debate program Friday then pulled the story to flesh out details before publishing a more complete version Tuesday.

The move leaves the Brooks Quimby Debate Council, which traces its roots to the beginning of the college in 1860s, without a single participant.

Nineteen members of the council signed an open letter Friday that announced their resignations and complained that an adviser had obstructed “the team’s ability to maintain an inclusive culture and compete.”

The debate squad’s adviser, Sammi Rippetoe, a rhetoric professor, did not respond to a Tuesday email seeking comment.

The college told its student newspaper it will look into the three-page resignation letter.


Brooks Quimby Debate Council Resignation Letter by Maine Trust For Local News on Scribd

The letter left a door open for Bates to restore its famed debate team.

“We call upon Bates to listen to its students, resolve this situation, and enforce its own equity and inclusion policies so BQDC can remain a home for future generations of debaters,” the letter concluded.

It is unclear what will happen next.

In 1896, the Bates team participated in the nation’s first intercollegiate debate, as well as the first international collegiate debate in 1908.

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