University of Austin (UATX), Launches Debate Society, the Austin Union

Launch Event During SXSW Features A Conversation with Special Guests Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Nadine Strossen

AUSTIN, Texas, March 4, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the University of Austin (UATX), America’s newest university dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth and fostering an environment of intellectual freedom and pluralism, announced the launch of the Austin Union, a debate society. To honor the commencement, the University is hosting an event on Saturday, March 9th, during SXSW, featuring special guest Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. alongside former ACLU head Nadine Strossen.

Titled “The Importance of Civil Discourse, Free Speech and Debate in a Healthy Democracy,” the conversation between Kennedy, an environmental lawyer, activist and independent presidential candidate, and Strossen, the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law Emerita at New York Law School, past President of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), and a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education, aims to examine the effectiveness of the U.S. Constitution.

Additionally, Morgan Marietta, Dean of the Center for Economics, Politics, and History at UATX, will go head-to-head with Richard Albert, Professor of Government and Constitutional Law at UT Austin, in a debate entitled “Is the US Constitution Broken?” moderated by Ben Crocker, Director of Special Programs at UATX. The entire evening will be live-streamed exclusively on Twitter.

The University is throwing down for intellectual pluralism. The Austin Union Manifesto declares: “No mind can grow without some sort of resistance. No two people can build a relationship without laying the bricks of disagreement to rest between themselves. No society can be sustained without a peaceful mode of public civil discourse.”

The manifesto’s author, Olivia Hagye, is a marketing manager in UATX’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Leadership (OEL) and an alumna of the University of Texas School of Law. Hagye says, “I was inspired by the storied Oxford Union, which I experienced during my studies at Oxford a few years ago. Part of my role at OEL is to help launch new initiatives that are critical to realizing UATX’s mission.”

“It’s our goal that over time, the Austin Union will — like Oxford’s — become a fully student-run organization,” Hagye added.

Professor Marietta, UATX faculty advisor to the Austin Union and a scholar of political polarization as well as constitutional politics, expanded on the Union’s mission: “Our goal with this society is to model healthy and civil debate highlighting points of agreement as well as principled dispute, rather than merely scoring points against the opposition. The Austin Union audience can expect a respectful appreciation of opposing views, with enough disagreement to spur continuing discussion of decisions of great importance to all Americans.”

“It’s an honor for me to debate Professor Albert on this topic,” Marietta continued. “The constitutional law faculty at UT Austin are debatably the finest in the country.”

You can register for the livestream here.

About UATX

The University of Austin (UATX) is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian university in Austin, Texas, dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth. Its innovative undergraduate curriculum combines the rich and varied inheritance of the past with the most compelling ideas of the present. Students will learn from world-class scholars and partner with expert doers and makers in their local community. The University of Austin’s founding freshman class will begin their educational journey in the fall of 2024. 

Undergraduate applications for fall 2024 are open at

About American Values 2024

American Values 2024 (AV24) is a super PAC committed to educating and mobilizing voters to elect candidates who will restore and protect the soul of democracy in the United States. Our long-term vision is to build a movement starting at the local level to create a national groundswell to address the critical issues our country faces. Today, AV24 supports Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s presidential campaign. AV24 is co-founded by Mark Gorton (CEO of Tower Research Capital) and Tony Lyons (President of Skyhorse Publishing).

Maggie Kelly, Communications Manager UATX, [email protected], 4753551237