- matthew thorsen
- Alfred "Tuna" Snider
Originally published August 25, 2004
Alfred “Tuna” Snider, one of the world’s most widely recognized debate coaches and scholars, has been an endowed professor of forensics at the University of Vermont since 1982.
In his 30 years as a debate coach — he taught at several colleges before coming to UVM — he’s written several textbooks, edited critical journals and traveled the globe teaching seminars on debate.
The sport is more than just a game to the 53-year-old Snider — it’s a vehicle for social change. When he talks, he sounds more like a prophet than a college professor. “I have an agenda,” he admits frankly during an interview in his Clark Street apartment in Burlington. “My agenda is to fight back the darkness by trying to bring the light of human reason. I want to replace weapons with words. I want every citizen to be a debater.”
That’s a heavy mission, but the iconoclastic Snider also likes to have fun. His apartment is full of goofy stuff — a jar of rubber bugs, several Jesus action figures, posters of the British sci-fi show “Dr. Who.” When your nickname is Tuna, you can’t be serious all the time.