Judge Philosophies

Alex Brehm -- Lower Columbia College

n/a

Alex Cadena -- California State University, Northridge.

n/a

Andrew Myers -- Gonzaga University

n/a

Ashley Nuckels Cuevas -- San Diego State University

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

TW: Suicide, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Rape

Overview/ TLDR: I am a flow critic and debate is a game but we should be doing all that we can to make the space accessible to all participants. Clearly state how I should evaluate arguments and I will do that; I do default to competing interpretations and prefer high Probability, low Magnitude and Proximity impacts to high Magnitude and low Probability.�  All advocacy, criteria/ROB, and procedural texts should be repeated for clarity in the round.� 

Speed: I can keep up and will let you know to be more clear if I need it. If your opponents are unable to engage in speed please be accommodating.� 

Procedurals: I really like procedural debate. I enjoy specific interpretations and counterinterps (please repeat these since they are usually pretty important). I need articulated abuse if using an abuse paradigm but I default to a competing interpretations paradigm if not otherwise instructed.� 

K's: Run them, have fun, and give me a clear FW, ROB, ALT, and ALT solvency. I prefer K's that have specific link scenarios to the debate round instead of just generic ones. Perms should be repeated so that I can get them down correctly.� 

Theory: Like I said before, this is your game, tell me how to evaluate the round and I will operate within those parameters. I generally believe that Conditional Arguments are good but I will not do the work for you on the warrant level.

Pet Peeves: Citing a theory or theorist and expecting everyone to know what you are talking about.� 




Basil Hawley -- Lewis & Clark College

 

Ben Mann -- University of Utah

They/them or he/him (gender non-binary).

tl;dr for prep time: I evaluate comparative access to comparative impacts. In other words, I will vote for the team that demonstrates to me that they best access the most important impacts in the round. Feel free to read whatever arguments you feel most comfortable with in front of me, including advantages/disadvantages, counterplans, theory, Ks, performance-centered arguments, or any other arrangement inclusive or outside of these categories. I can efficiently flow fast debates, but will say â??SLOWâ? if youâ??re speaking too quickly (generally not an issue) or â??CLEARâ? if I cannot understand your words, regardless of your rate of delivery. I take my role as a critic very seriously and my goal in RFDs is to clearly explain how I reached my decision and offer suggestions in the role of an educator. I will disclose speaker points after my RFD if you ask me to, because I want to be held accountable for why I assign the speaker points that I do. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me at� benwmann@gmail.com

Everything below is more extensive and substantially less important.

---

Experience: this is my ninth year involved in NPDA debate (fifth year out of competing) and tenth year involved in forensics. I competed in NPDA debate on the national circuit for four years at Lewis & Clark College, coached NPDA for two years at University of the Pacific where I received my Masterâ??s degree in Communication, and am currently in my third year coaching NPDA at the University of Utah, where I am a primary NPDA coach and a Ph.D. student in Communication.

Things I like:

1.� � � � Strategic decision-making and collapse in the back half of debates.

2.� � � � Clear impact and warrant comparison in rebuttals.

3.� � � � Specific, well-developed link arguments.

Things I donâ??t like:

1.� � � � Blips in constructive speeches that suddenly metamorphize into well-developed arguments in rebuttals.

2.� � � � Using speed and esoteric postmodern jargon for the purposes of excluding other teams.

3.� � � � Treating other teams/competitors poorly,� especiallyif said competitors come from community/junior college programs and/or programs with limited resources.

Other notes:

1.� � � � My average speaker points are 27.5, and will go up or down from there.

2.� � � � Parli is not a textual event. I do not want copies of your advocacies. I� dowant you to slow and/or repeat your advocacies or theory interps.

3.� � � � Call points of order if theyâ??re close. Iâ??ll protect against blatantly new arguments.

4.� � � � MG theory is more in vogue these days, and Iâ??m fine with these arguments. I am, however, sympathetic to neg arguments telling me I should evaluate MG theory differently than other theory arguments because the block is the only chance to respond.

5.� � � � I prefer advocacy-based debates on policy resolutions, but I will listen to debaters/programs who want to engage in trichot-based rounds. If you engage in those debates, I would prefer that you give some sort of stable advocacy statement.

6.� � � � I think conditional Ks are often poorly executed, especially on the framework level. I am not opposed to you reading these arguments, but I am persuaded, for example, by two white people kicking a conditional Wilderson K probably being a link to anti-blackness.

7.� � � � My research areas pertain to disability rhetoric and disabilityâ??s relationship to gender identity/expression. I do not see this being expressly relevant to evaluating debates, but I will call out ableism and disrespect for gender identity/expression.

8.� � � � Iâ??m autistic. I have next-to-no awareness of my affect, including my facial expressions, and I will probably give you little-to-no eye contact. Nothing personal.

9.� � � � I really, really do not care about the impact of my decisions on â??the communityâ? for many reasons, in part because it would compromise my integrity as a critic, and in part because there is no debate community (Jordan & Stewart, 2017).


Bob Becker -- Northwest College

  As a critic, I believe my task is to weigh the issues presented in the round. I don't enjoy intervening, and try not to do so. To prevent my intervention, debaters need to use rebuttals to provide a clear explanation of the issues. Otherwise, if left on my own, I will pick the issues I think are important. All of that said, I am not an information processor. I am a human being and so are you. If you want me to consider an issue in the round, make sure you emphasize it and explain its importance.

When weighing issues, I always look to jurisdictional issues first. I will give the affirmative some leeway on topicality, but if they can't explain why their case is topical, they will lose. Although some arguments are more easily defeated than others, I am willing to listen to most positions. In reality I probably have a somewhat high threshold for topicality, but if you want to win, you need to spend some time on it and not give the aff any way out of it. In-round abuse is not necessary, but if that argument is made against you, then you need to explain why topicality is important (jurisdiction, aff always wins, etc.) I don’t require competing interpretations.

I am fine with critical arguments, but you need to explain how they impact the round. I have found few students can explain how I should evaluate real-world impacts in a debate world, or how I should evaluate and compare real world and debate world impacts. I’m fine with critical affs, but you better have some good justification for it. “We don’t like the resolution” doesn’t cut it with me. If your critical arguments conflict with your disad, you better have some “contradictory arguments good” answers.

Performance based argument need to be sufficiently explained as to how they prove the resolution true or false. Or, I need to know how to evaluate it. If you don’t tell me, I will evaluate it as I would an interp round.

As with everything else, it depends on how the impacts are explained to me. If one team says “one million deaths” and the other says “dehume,” but doesn’t explain why dehume is worse than deaths, I’ll vote for death. If the other team says dehume is worse because it can be repeated and becomes a living death, etc., then I’ll vote for dehume. I think I’m telling you that abstract impacts need to be made concrete, but more importantly, explain what the issue is and why I should consider it to be important.

I don't mind speed, but sometimes I physically can't flow that fast. I will tell you if I can't understand you. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure I understand what you are saying. Above all, be professional. This activity is fun. That’s why I’m here, and I hope that is the reason you are here as well.


Charlie Brothersen -- Lewis & Clark College

 

Claire Garman -- Northwest College

 

Dalton Richardson -- University of Oregon

If you have questions, feel free to email me at drichard@uoregon.edu or find the Oregon prep room.

I’ve been involved in debate in some capacity, either as a competitor or a coach/critic, for the past eight years. Across my time with debate, I’ve read and judged nearly every genre of argument and feel comfortable evaluating any type or style of debate. I find tech to be the easiest mechanism through which I can evaluate arguments, but this does not mean that truth is absent from my decision calculus. Speed isn’t an issue, but clarity feels increasingly rare in debate. Furthermore, you shouldn’t make any assumptions about my personal knowledge – I won’t backfill warrants you don’t read nor will I automatically vote for you because you read an argument that stems from an ideology I occupy. Finally, I best understand debate as a game where arguments act as pieces with which debaters can make various moves in an attempt to capture my ballot.

I need pen time. Read texts/interps twice, and if you want me to get them down word for word then give me a copy. Just because we have flex time doesn’t absolve you from having to write texts/interps for your opponents – I’m tired of flex time starting after minutes of writing texts that could have easily been written prior to the round. Your perm should identify what the non-competitive portions of the counterplan/alternative are if the negative has failed to do so, and they are not advocacies.

Framework/Theory

Absent an alternative, I default to a net benefits framework operationalized under an offense/defense paradigm. Framing is particularly important as it helps me to better understand which impacts I should prioritize or resolve with my ballot; as a result, role of the ballot claims often feel unnecessary when they are just intertwined with framework. If you like going for role of the ballot arguments as part of your strategy then don’t let me stop you, but they rarely seem to develop into anything substantive beyond the constructives (but I’d love to be proven wrong about this, as I think there are interesting debates to be had about the purpose of the ballot). I have yet to see many debates that center on AFC, but my gut reaction is that being affirmative doesn’t mean your framework choice is incontestable.

Framework and topicality are most persuasive to me when they answer the question “Should this particular affirmative have been read?” rather than nebulous justifications for the way debates ought occur. Therefore, comparative analysis is necessary – compare the world of the negative’s interpretation with that of the affirmative’s interpretation with regard to the impacts of the position. Specifically, show me how the standards of your interpretation best resolve the impacts of fairness and/or education. On the flip side, conditionality bad and other forms of theory feel more designed to punish actions that have occurred in the round with the intent to stop those actions from occurring in the future. Overall, I don’t have any strong feelings regarding conditionality, so I can be equally persuaded to vote either way. I’m much more hesitant to vote on other types of theory, such as “you must give us your interp within X minutes” or “you cannot read two theory positions” as they often end up unnecessarily convoluted and seem to skirt the overall substance of debate.

Disadvantages

Disads are great. I read them a lot as a debater, and I enjoy specific link level analysis as well as impact interaction that begins in the first neg speech. Tell me how your impact scenario complicates the aff’s scenarios and what that means for the progression of the debate. Offense is often underutilized on disadvantages, likely because it’s easier to think of defense rather than offense; as a result, accurate offense read on disads will be rewarded with higher speaker points.

Counterplans

I assume all counterplans to be conditional unless otherwise stated. I have a special place in my heart for advantage counterplans and PICs. I have a high threshold for "cheating" counterplans, such as delay, veto, plan is a secret, and other positions like that. I believe multiple contradictory counterplans to be abusive but I can be persuaded otherwise.

Kritiks

I enjoy good kritik debate, as those were the debates I most often found myself in as a debater. I also feel that these types of debates often suffer greatly from shadow extensions and a general lack of warrants, particularly when comparing the world of the alternative to the world of the aff's advocacy. Specific link analysis is your best friend in this debate, as I believe there are situations in which the link to the K is tenuous at best or nonexistent at worst. K vs K debates often come down to root cause claims, so ensure that you have a robust defense of your impact controlling the root cause debate and explain how your impacts frame other impacts. Finally, if you enjoy framing your opponent out, tell me why your framing means I don't even evaluate the aff/K beyond just mentioning that it does. I find that debaters often rely on claiming they've framed out their opponents without actually telling me how they do or what it means for my evaluation of the debate.

I am most familiar with Marxism, CRT (specifically afropessimism), queer theory, biopolitics, and anthro literature, but have some knowledge of postmodern theorists like Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, and others. I hate hate hate psychoanalysis for a litany of reasons. I enjoy innovate and non-traditional kritikal strategies and arguments. Even though I am open to arguments about the harmful nature of flow-centric debate, I find it hard to separate my decision from the flow and need very well impacted out justifications for ignoring the flow.

A Final Note

Debate has been incredibly important to me, and I take my job as a critic very seriously. I enjoy educating students and helping them become better debaters. If you have questions, ask and I will try my best to explain my response in a way that is accessible to you. Simultaneously, I do not respond well (read, at all) to abrasive or intentionally inflammatory communication post round.

If you made it this far in my philosophy, make a cool reference about sharks, Nintendo, or Pokémon and I'll add an extra point to your speaks.


Decker O'Donnell -- Lewis & Clark College

 

Denise Vaughan -- University of Washington Bothell

n/a

Doug Hall -- Casper College

n/a

Emily Luther -- Gonzaga University

n/a

Erin Shadrick -- Casper College

n/a

Glen Frappier -- Gonzaga University

n/a

Harry Schulte -- El Paso Community College

n/a

Jason Jordan -- University of Utah

*I have fairly significant hearing loss. This is almost never a problem when judging debates. This also doesn't mean you should yell at me during your speech, that won't help. If I can't understand the words you're saying, I will give a clear verbal prompt to let you know what you need to change for me to understand you (ex: 'clear,' 'louder,' 'slow down,' or 'hey aff stop talking so loud so that I can hear the MO please'). If I don't prompt you to the contrary, I can understand the words you're saying just fine. � 

*make arguments, tell me how to evaluate these arguments, and compare these arguments to the other teams arguments and methods of evaluating arguments. I am comfortable voting for just about any winning argument within any framework you want to place me within. I have very few, if any, normative beliefs about what debate should look like and/or â??be.â??� 


*Unless I am told to do otherwise, on all portions of the debate I tend to use the heuristics of offense/defense, timeframe/probability/magnitude, and uniqueness/link/impact to evaluate and compare arguments.



Jeannie Hunt -- Northwest College

I want to be able to judge the round with no intervention on my part.  That means a couple of things.  You need to establish a framework that I can follow to evaluate the round.  I don’t care what that framework is, but I want one – policy making, critical, big picture, etc.  That framework is what I will follow, so please don’t set the round up as a stock round, and then ask me to look at the big picture at the end.  More importantly, give me something to look at in the end.  I would love to hear some impact analysis, some reasons to prefer, something tangible for me to vote on.  Absent that, I have to intervene. 

 

There are no specific arguments that I prefer over another.  I will vote on pretty much anything, and I am game for pretty much anything.  I do expect that you will not subject yourself to performative contradictions.  If you run a k, you should be willing to live in the round with the same k standards you are asking us to think about.  However, it is the job of the opposing team to point that out…  This is true of any theory based argument you choose to run.  I am old, which means that I think the 1AC is important.  If you are not going to address it after the 1AC, let me know so I don’t have to spend time flowing it.

 

Critical rounds invite the judge to be a part of the debate, and they bring with them a set of ethics and morals that are subjective.  I love critical debate, but competitors need to be aware that the debate ceases to be completely objective when the judge is invited into the discussion with a K.  Make sure the framework is very specific so I don’t have to abandon objectivity all together.

 

Finally, make your own arguments.  If you are speaking for, or allowing your partner to speak for you, I am not flowing it. It should be your argument, not a regurgitation of what your partner said three seconds ago.  Prompting someone with a statement like, “go to the DA” is fine.  Making an argument that is then repeated is not.

 

Delivery styles are much less important to me than the quality of the argument, but that doesn’t mean you should have no style.  You should be clear, structured and polite to everyone in the round (including your partner if it is team).  You can at least take your hat off and tuck your shirt in. Having a bad attitude is as bad as having a bad argument.  Speed is not a problem if it is clear.

 

Because I don’t want to intervene, I don’t appreciate points of order.  You are asking me to evaluate the worth of an argument, which skews the round in at least a small way.  Additionally, I think I flow pretty well, and I know I shouldn’t vote on new arguments.  I won’t.  If you feel particularly abused in the round, and need to make a point of some sort, you can, but as a strategy to annoy the other team, or me, it is ill advised. 


Joe Gantt -- Lewis & Clark College

 

Kara Sutton -- San Diego State University

Hi all,

I have competed in forensics in both policy and parli. I will vote for anything but you have to tell me how to. Articulate clear framing of the round and have analysis and weighing between impacts of neg and aff is the clearest path to a ballot. I am inclined to vote on the flow regardless of how weird argument. and I appreciate organized response orders.  your link/impact scenarios should be clearly articulated. 

Speed: I can *generally* keep up, but please be accommodating to other debaters/judges.

Procedurals: down for procedural debates, just situate the arguments/your interp in how/why i should vote. 

K: Down for kritiks, explain your framework well and don't assume i/competitors know what you are talking about/what literature you use. Links should be specific and clear, please repeat your perm.

Be a nice person to everyone in round please!


Kinny Torre -- Western Washington University

TL;DR Do your shit but not at the expense of excluding your opponents*   Hello!   Background Info: been doing this for too long I debated for 3 years doing policy in Washington State (lol) and 4 years of parli at Western. Iâ??m starting my 3rd year of coaching at Western but Iâ??ve coached policy, LD, and PF.   

*Iâ??ll start of by saying that I stayed in this activity because I found this activity to be both fun and educational. Itâ??s therefore important to recognize find that diversity can be dangerous if it allows for people to advance an agenda that hurts marginalized individuals. Like obvi you shouldnâ??t be a nazi but itâ??s more than just that; speed and frivolous theory should not be a weapon used against novices because of its exclusionary nature. You donâ??t need to go to many tournaments to understand that this format is dying so perhaps we should take measures to prevent its death. 

Beyond that, run whatever argument you want at whatever speed or method you wish. The only exception is that there must be a winner/loser at the end of the debate AND the debate must follow speech times and order. Iâ??ll do my best to evaluate the debate as fairly as possible. This means that Iâ??ll entertain framework arguments against nontopical affs. Delays CPs with tix DAs are cool. Same with floating PICs and Consult nature CPs.  Please run all of the weird and untraditional arguments as well as the Heg DA in front of meâ??I just want a good debate!!! The important part is that you tell me what the key issues are and how to I prioritize them.   Some random particularism: 

â?¢ Itâ??s probably not a good idea to run frivolous theory shells in front of me. Especially MG theory since I donâ??t understand how to judge a theory shell that always gets golden responses. Since the MO needs to deploy offense against the interp or at the very least a net-benefit to their own, then the PMR would always win with the impact-turn. Like I get why MG theory is strategically viable and even a necessity sometimes; however, the more silly or ubiquitous the shell(s) become, the higher a chance that Iâ??ll default Neg. 

â?¢ Donâ??t start at your full speed. I know that youâ??re fast and that you want to awe your judge and overwhelm your opponents with your sicknasty blocks but you should give me like 10 seconds to adjust your voice.

â?¢ Repeat interp texts twice or pass a text to your opponents. 

â?¢ Give a perm text.  â??Perm Do Bothâ? on rejection alts as well as â??all noncompetitive parts of the alternativeâ? ARE NOT PERM TEXTS.

â?¢ Donâ??t Point of Order more than 3 times; I promise I'm flowing and is usually unnecessary. 


Korry Harvey -- Western Washington University

  Background/Experience

I debated a lot (CEDA, NDT), and have coached and judged even more (CEDA, NDT, NPDA, NPTE, Worlds). I teach courses in argument theory, diversity, and civil dialogue, and I am heavily involved in community service. While my debate background comes primarily from a â??policyâ? paradigm, I have no problem with either good â??criticalâ? debates or â??persuasive communicationâ?, and am willing to listen to any framework a team feels is justifiably appropriate for the debate.

 

I think that debate is simultaneously a challenging educational exercise, a competitive game of strategy, and a wonderfully odd and unique community â?? all of which work together to make it fun. I think debaters, judges, and coaches, should actively try to actually enjoy the activity. Debate should be both fun and congenial. Finally, while a written ballot is informative, I feel that post-round oral critiques are one of the most valuable educational tools we as coaches and judges have to offer, and I will always be willing to disclose and discuss my decisions, even if that may involve walking and talking in order to help the tournament staff expedite an efficient schedule for all of us.

 

Unique consideration

I am hearing impaired. No joke â?? I wear hearing aids in both ears, and am largely deaf without them. I think most would agree that I keep a pretty good flow, but I can only write down what I understand. I work as hard as just about any of your critics to understand and assess your arguments, and I appreciate it when you help me out a little. Unfortunately, a good deal of my hearing loss is in the range of the human voice â?? go figure. As such, clarity and a somewhat orderly structure are particularly important for me. For some, a notch or two up on the volume scale doesnâ??t hurt, either. However, please note that vocal projection is not the same as shouting-- which often just causes an echo effect, making it even harder for me to hear. Also, excessive chatter and knocking for your partner can make it difficult for me to hear the speaker. I really want to hear you, and I can only assume that you want to be heard as well. Thanks for working with me a little on this one.

 

Approach of the critic to decision-making (for example, adherence to the trichotomy, stock-issues, policymaker, tabula rasa, etc.)

Although I don't see absolute objectivity as easily attainable, I do try to let the debaters themselves determine what is and is not best for the debate process. Debaters should clarify what framework/criteria they are utilizing, and how things should be evaluated (a weighing mechanism or decision calculus). I see my role as a theoretically â??neutral observerâ? evaluating and comparing the validity of your arguments according to their probability, significance, magnitude, etc. I very much like to hear warrants behind your claims, as too many debates in parli are based on unsubstantiated assertions. As such, while a â??dropped argumentâ? has considerable weight, it will be evaluated within the context of the overall debate and is not necessarily an automatic â??round-winnerâ?.

 

Relative importance of presentation/communication skills to the critic in decision-making

As noted, clarity and structure are very important to me. It should be clear to me where you are and what argument you are answering or extending. Bear in mind that what you address as â??their next argumentâ? may not necessarily be the same thing I identify as â??their next argumentâ?. I see the flow as a â??mapâ? of the debate round, and you provide the content for that map. I like my maps to make sense.

 

That said, good content still weighs more heavily to me than slick presentation. Have something good to say, rather than simply being good at saying things.

 

Additionally, 1) although I think most people speak better when standing, thatâ??s your choice; 2) I wonâ??t flow the things your partner says during your speech time; 3) Please time yourselves and keep track of protected time.

 

Relative importance of on-case argumentation to the critic in decision-making

I find that good case debate is a very effective strategy. It usually provides the most direct and relevant clash. Unfortunately, it is rarely practiced. I can understand that at times counterplans and kritiks make a case debate irrelevant or even unhelpful. Nevertheless, I can't tell you the number of times I have seen an Opposition team get themselves in trouble because they failed to make some rather simple and intuitive arguments on the case.

 

Openness to critical/performative styles of debating

See above. No problem, as long as it is well executed â?? which really makes it no different than traditional "net-benefits" or "stock issues" debates. To me, no particular style of debating is inherently â??badâ?. Iâ??d much rather hear â??goodâ? critical/performative debate than â??badâ? traditional/policy debate, and vice versa.

 

Topicality/Theory

While I try to keep an open mind here, I must admit Iâ??m not particularly fond of heavy theory debates. I think most debaters would be surprised by just how much less interesting they are as a judge than as a competitor. I realize they have their place and will vote on them if validated. However, screaming â??abuseâ? or â??unfairâ? is insufficient for me. Iâ??m far more concerned about educational integrity, stable advocacy and an equitable division of ground. Just because a team doesnâ??t like their ground doesnâ??t necessarily mean they donâ??t have any. Likewise, my threshold for â??reverse votersâ? is also on the somewhat higher end â?? I will vote on them, but not without some consideration. Basically, I greatly prefer substantive debates over procedural ones. They seem to be both more educational and interesting.

 

Parliamentary procedure

While I have no problem with them, I tend not to follow much of the traditional stylizations or formal elements of parliamentary practice: 1) I will likely just â??take into considerationâ? points of order that identify â??newâ? arguments in rebuttals, but you are more than welcome to make them if you feel they are warranted; 3) Just because I am not rapping on the table doesnâ??t mean I donâ??t like you or dig your arguments; 4) You donâ??t need to do the little tea pot dance to ask a question, just stand or raise your hand; 5) I donâ??t give the whole speaker of the house rap about recognizing speakers for a speech; you know the order, go ahead and speak; 6) I will include â??thank yousâ? in speech time, but I do appreciate a clear, concise and non-timed roadmap beforehand.

 

I lean toward thinking that â??splitting the blockâ?, while perhaps theoretically defensible, is somewhat problematic in an activity with only two rebuttals and often only makes a round more messy.


Kristy McManus -- Western Wyoming Community College

I am an IE coach from a CC.  My terminal degree is in theatre.  With that being said, I enjoy debate but am not going to be the debate critic you are probably looking for.  I have been coaching for 9 years.  This is my last year in this community.

I try to come into each debate as tab as possible.  This is your debate.  I will not do any "work" for you.  You must fully explain what you are doing and how you are doing it.  Explain well, and I am right there with you.

I do not like abusive arguments.  Be smart with your strategy and focus on good debate that uses clear and well developed claims and warrants.

I am fine with speed as long as it is not used as a tactic.  I have no problem calling it either.  I will always defer to the other team - if they don't want speed, you should adjust accordingly.

Procedurals are a good and strategic aspect of debate.  Again, refer to above statements regarding your use and running of them.  Be clear, be specific, explain.  Tell me what to do, look at, and vote on.

K's are fine...please, please, please take the time to repeat important phrases as well as completely explain.  Remember that you might be asking me to engage in YOUR round with K debate.  Are you ready to do that?

Enjoy the round, be critically engaged, listen to your opponents, explain in detail, tell me what to do and why.


Kyle Cheesewright -- The College of Idaho

This is my most recent judging philosopy. If you want to see a collection of them, with information that is more or less relevant, Net Benefits has an interesting archive.


“All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God Is Change.”
–Octavia Butler, “Parable of the Sower.”

Debate is a game. Debate is a strange, beautiful game that we play. Debate is a strange beautiful game that we play with each other.

I love debate. It’s the only game that exists where the rules are up for contestation by each side. There are some rules that aren’t up for discussion, as far as I can tell, these are them:

1/ Each debate will have a team that wins, and a team that looses. Say whatever you want, I am structurally constrained at the end of debate to award one team a win, and the other team will receive a loss. That’s what I got.

2/ Time limits. I think that a discussion should have equal time allotment for each side, and those times should probably alternate. I have yet to see a fair way for this question to be resolved in a debate, other than through arbitrary enforcement. The only exception is that if both teams decide on something else, you have about 45 minutes from the start of the round, to when I have to render a decision.

Pretty much everything else is open to contestation. At this point, I don’t really have any serious, uncontestable beliefs about debate. This means that the discussion is open to you. I do tend to find that I find debates to be more engaging when they are about substantive clash over a narrow set of established issues. This means, I tend to prefer debates that are specific and deep. Good examples, and comparative discussion of those examples is the easiest way to win my ballot. Generally speaking, I look for comparative impact work. I find that I tend to align more quickly with highly probable and proximate impacts, though magnitude is just so easy.

I tend to prefer LOC strategies that are deep, well explained explorations of a coherent world. The strategy of firing off a bunch of underdeveloped arguments, and trying to develop the strategy that is mishandled by the MG is often successful in front of me, but I almost always think that the round would have been better with a more coherent LOC strategy—for both sides of the debate.

At the end of the debate, when it is time for me to resolve the discussion, I start by identifying what I believe the weighing mechanism should be, based on the arguments made in the debate. Once I have determined the weighing mechanism, I start to wade through the arguments that prove the world will be better or worse, based on the decision mechanism. I always attempt to default to explicit arguments that debaters make about these issues.

Examples are the evidence of Parliamentary debate. Control the examples, and you will control the debate.

On specific issues: I don’t particularly care what you discuss, or how you discuss it. I prefer that you discuss it in a way that gives me access to the discussion. I try not to backfill lots of arguments based on buzzwords. For example, if you say “Topicality is a matter of competing interpretations,” I think I know what that means. But I am not going to default to evaluating every argument on Topicality through an offense/defense paradigm unless you explain to me that I should, and probably try to explicate what kinds of answers would be offensive, and what kinds of answers would be defensive. Similarly, if you say “Topicality should be evaluated through the lens of reasonability,” I think I know what that means. But if you want me to stop evaluating Topicality if you are winning that there is a legitimate counter-interpretation that is supported by a standard, then you should probably say that.

I try to flow debates as specifically as possible. I feel like I have a pretty good written record of most debates.

Rebuttals are times to focus a debate, and go comprehensively for a limited set of arguments. You should have a clear argument for why you are winning the debate as a whole, based on a series of specific extensions from the Member speech. The more time you dedicate to an issue in a debate, the more time I will dedicate to that issue when I am resolving the debate. Unless it just doesn’t matter. Watch out for arguments that don’t matter, they’re tricksy and almost everyone spends too much time on them.

Before I make my decision, I try to force myself to explain what the strongest argument for each side would be if they were winning the debate. I then ask myself how the other team is dealing with those arguments. I try to make sure that each team gets equal time in my final evaluation of a debate.

This is a radical departure from my traditional judging philosophy. I’ll see how it works out for me. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. For the record, I have strong opinions on just about everything that occurs in a debate round—but those strong opinions are for down time and odd rants during practice rounds. I work to keep them out of the debate, and at this point, I think I can say that I do a pretty good job on that account.

I just thought of a third rule. Speaker points are mine. I use them to indicate how good I thought speeches are. If you tell me what speaker points I should give you, I will listen, and promptly discard what you say. Probably.

For the sake of transparency: My personal gig is critical-cultural theory. It’s where my heart is. This does not mean that you should use critical theory that you don’t understand or feel comfortable with it. Make the choices in debate that are the best, most strategic, or most ethical for you. If your interested in my personal opinons about your choices, I’m more than happy to share. But I’ll do that after the debate is over, the ballot submitted, and we’re just two humans chatting. The debate will be decided based on the arguments made in the debate.

“[Y]ou can’t escape language: language is everything and everywhere; it’s what lets us have anything to do with one another; it’s what separates us from animals; Genesis 11:7-10 and so on.”
-David Foster Wallace, “Authority and American Usage.”


Lindsay Thompson -- California State University, Northridge.

n/a

Margaret Rockey -- Western Washington University

Background: Parli coach at WWU for one year. Competed in parli at Whitman for three years and one year independently (sco Sweets!). I have no idea if I am or if people perceive me as a K- or policy-oriented judge. I guess I read a lot of disads, topical K affs, disads, and always read, but never went for politics, but I strongly preferred being a double member because I gave no shits about what our strategy was and would defend whatever. So I have no strong preferences regarding argumentative content. 

Iâ??ve tried writing a philosophy four or five times this year, and every attempt has ended with one sentence rejecting the proposition of writing in a philosophy in the first place. The short version, and what you probably want to know, is that you can read whatever you want, and should give me a reason why you win and a reason why the other team loses. In the event that the reason you win is also the reason they lose, you should explain how it is so. What follows is not a syncretic philosophy but a disorganized and unenclosed series of thoughts on debate, some arbitrary biases and thresholds, and judging tendencies Iâ??ve noticed in myself. It may or may not be helpful.

Judging Generally

I find I feel much less certain about my decisions as a judge than I did about my predictions as a competitor and observer. Actually doing the work of making and justifying a decision almost always necessitates getting my hands dirty in some form or other. Most of my decisions require intervention to vote for any one team, either because certain core questions have not been resolved, or some resolved questions have not been contextualized to one another, or some combination of the two. Recognizing the frequent inevitability of dirty hands in decision-making, I try to stick to both a general principle and practice when judging. In principle, I try to have a justification for every decision I make. In practice, I find I try to limit my intervention to extrapolating from arguments made to resolve unanswered issues; if a certain team is winning a certain part of the flow; what does that mean for this part where no one is clearly ahead but where someone must be to decide the round? This is also means that an easy way to get ahead is doing that work for me--provide the summary and application of an argument in addition to making it. 

Framework

In general I think framework either tells me how to prioritize impacts or understand solvency, and in particular how to situate solvency in relation to debate as a practice. Most framework arguments I see in-round seem to be made out of a precautious fear of leaving the something crucial open on the line-by-line, but with little understanding of the argumentâ??s application to interpreting the rest of the round. At least, thatâ??s what I felt like when I extended framework arguments for awhile. I donâ??t understand the argument that fiat is illusory. The advocacy actually being implemented has never been a reason to vote aff, as far as I can tell. The purpose of fiat is to force a â??shouldâ? and not â??willâ? debate. Framework arguments that dictate and defend a certain standard for the negativeâ??s burden to argue that the advocacy â??should notâ? happen are ideal. Iâ??m open to arguments proposing a different understanding of solvency than what a policymaking framework supplies.

My only other observation about framework debates is that every interpretation seems to get slotted into some â??critical non fiat â??ologyâ? slot or â??policy fiat roleplayingâ? slot. This is a false binary but its frequent assumption means many non-competitive framework (and advocacies!) are set against each other as if theyâ??re competitive. Policymaking and roleplaying are not the same thing; epistemology and ontology being distinct doesnâ??t mean theyâ??re inherently competitive, for a couple examples.

 This is also the major flaw of most non-topical K v. K debates I seeâ??the advocacies are not competitive. They feel like I.E. speeches forced into the debate format when the content and structure of that content just donâ??t clashâ??I mean, itâ??s like the aff showing up and saying dogs are cool and the neg firing back that cats are cool. Itâ??s just not quite debate as weâ??re used to, and demands reconceptualizing competition. This is also why I donâ??t think â??no perms in a method debateâ? makes any sense but I agree with the object of that argument. The topic creates sidesâ??youâ??re either for or against it. In rounds where each team is just going to propose distinct ways of apprehending the world, whatever that looks like, I see no reason to award noncompetitiveness to either team. (Oh, this should not be used as a justification for negative counterperms. How counterperms being leveraged against perms represents anything less than the death of debate is a mystery to me) Iâ??m not saying donâ??t have nontopical KvK rounds, please do, just please also read offense against each otherâ??s arguments (cats are cool and dogs are bad). In those rounds, your reason to win is not the same reason the other team loses, which is the case for advocacies which are opportunity costs to each other. For the record, I think critical literature is arguably the most important education debate offers. I just think debate is structured for competition oriented around policy advocacies and the ways that kritikal arguments tend to engage each other challenge that structure in ways we have yet to explore in parli (at least, writ large).

Theory

Donâ??t have anything in particular to say about this other than that I have a high threshold for evaluating anything other than plan text in a vacuum in determining interp violations. Everything else seems a solvency question to me, but make the arguments you want to and can defend.

Independent Voters

Iâ??ve noticed that I have a pretty high threshold on independent voters. I voted for an independent voter once when the block went for it. Arguments about discursive issues serve an important purpose. But for arguments read flippantly or as a gotcha or, more often, that lack any substantive impact, I always feel a little guilty voting there and jettisoning the rest of the debate, like feeling bad for picking one spoon over another when youâ??re a kid. I think a lot of judges want the simple way to vote but I donâ??t, as far as I can tell. They donâ??t necessarily have to be complicated, but I like thorough ways to vote, which do often involve a lot of nuance or at least word dancing (I believe debate is fundamentally competitive bullshitting, which I do not mean derisively in the slightest).


Margaret Rockey -- Western Washington University

Background: Parli coach at WWU for one year. Competed in parli at Whitman for three years and one year independently (sco Sweets!). I have no idea if I am or if people perceive me as a K- or policy-oriented judge. I guess I read a lot of disads, topical K affs, disads, and always read, but never went for politics, but I strongly preferred being a double member because I gave no shits about what our strategy was and would defend whatever. So I have no strong preferences regarding argumentative content. 

Iâ??ve tried writing a philosophy four or five times this year, and every attempt has ended with one sentence rejecting the proposition of writing in a philosophy in the first place. The short version, and what you probably want to know, is that you can read whatever you want, and should give me a reason why you win and a reason why the other team loses. In the event that the reason you win is also the reason they lose, you should explain how it is so. What follows is not a syncretic philosophy but a disorganized and unenclosed series of thoughts on debate, some arbitrary biases and thresholds, and judging tendencies Iâ??ve noticed in myself. It may or may not be helpful.

Judging Generally

I find I feel much less certain about my decisions as a judge than I did about my predictions as a competitor and observer. Actually doing the work of making and justifying a decision almost always necessitates getting my hands dirty in some form or other. Most of my decisions require intervention to vote for any one team, either because certain core questions have not been resolved, or some resolved questions have not been contextualized to one another, or some combination of the two. Recognizing the frequent inevitability of dirty hands in decision-making, I try to stick to both a general principle and practice when judging. In principle, I try to have a justification for every decision I make. In practice, I find I try to limit my intervention to extrapolating from arguments made to resolve unanswered issues; if a certain team is winning a certain part of the flow; what does that mean for this part where no one is clearly ahead but where someone must be to decide the round? This is also means that an easy way to get ahead is doing that work for me--provide the summary and application of an argument in addition to making it. 

Framework

In general I think framework either tells me how to prioritize impacts or understand solvency, and in particular how to situate solvency in relation to debate as a practice. Most framework arguments I see in-round seem to be made out of a precautious fear of leaving the something crucial open on the line-by-line, but with little understanding of the argumentâ??s application to interpreting the rest of the round. At least, thatâ??s what I felt like when I extended framework arguments for awhile. I donâ??t understand the argument that fiat is illusory. The advocacy actually being implemented has never been a reason to vote aff, as far as I can tell. The purpose of fiat is to force a â??shouldâ? and not â??willâ? debate. Framework arguments that dictate and defend a certain standard for the negativeâ??s burden to argue that the advocacy â??should notâ? happen are ideal. Iâ??m open to arguments proposing a different understanding of solvency than what a policymaking framework supplies.

My only other observation about framework debates is that every interpretation seems to get slotted into some â??critical non fiat â??ologyâ? slot or â??policy fiat roleplayingâ? slot. This is a false binary but its frequent assumption means many non-competitive framework (and advocacies!) are set against each other as if theyâ??re competitive. Policymaking and roleplaying are not the same thing; epistemology and ontology being distinct doesnâ??t mean theyâ??re inherently competitive, for a couple examples.

 This is also the major flaw of most non-topical K v. K debates I seeâ??the advocacies are not competitive. They feel like I.E. speeches forced into the debate format when the content and structure of that content just donâ??t clashâ??I mean, itâ??s like the aff showing up and saying dogs are cool and the neg firing back that cats are cool. Itâ??s just not quite debate as weâ??re used to, and demands reconceptualizing competition. This is also why I donâ??t think â??no perms in a method debateâ? makes any sense but I agree with the object of that argument. The topic creates sidesâ??youâ??re either for or against it. In rounds where each team is just going to propose distinct ways of apprehending the world, whatever that looks like, I see no reason to award noncompetitiveness to either team. (Oh, this should not be used as a justification for negative counterperms. How counterperms being leveraged against perms represents anything less than the death of debate is a mystery to me) Iâ??m not saying donâ??t have nontopical KvK rounds, please do, just please also read offense against each otherâ??s arguments (cats are cool and dogs are bad). In those rounds, your reason to win is not the same reason the other team loses, which is the case for advocacies which are opportunity costs to each other. For the record, I think critical literature is arguably the most important education debate offers. I just think debate is structured for competition oriented around policy advocacies and the ways that kritikal arguments tend to engage each other challenge that structure in ways we have yet to explore in parli (at least, writ large).

Theory

Donâ??t have anything in particular to say about this other than that I have a high threshold for evaluating anything other than plan text in a vacuum in determining interp violations. Everything else seems a solvency question to me, but make the arguments you want to and can defend.

Independent Voters

Iâ??ve noticed that I have a pretty high threshold on independent voters. I voted for an independent voter once when the block went for it. Arguments about discursive issues serve an important purpose. But for arguments read flippantly or as a gotcha or, more often, that lack any substantive impact, I always feel a little guilty voting there and jettisoning the rest of the debate, like feeling bad for picking one spoon over another when youâ??re a kid. I think a lot of judges want the simple way to vote but I donâ??t, as far as I can tell. They donâ??t necessarily have to be complicated, but I like thorough ways to vote, which do often involve a lot of nuance or at least word dancing (I believe debate is fundamentally competitive bullshitting, which I do not mean derisively in the slightest).


Michael Middleton -- University of Utah

A Quotation:

â??The present situation is highly discouragingâ? â??Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari

A Haiku:

Debate is Awesome

Judging Makes Me Cry Softly

Do I weep in vain?

Some things to consider (when debating in front of me):

10.� � I DO NOT support speed as a tool of exclusion

9.� � � � I DO NOT like deciding for myself what is the most important thing in the round or how to evaluate the competing arguments; You should do this for me.� � You will like it less if you donâ??t. On the other hand, I will like it more.

8.� � � � I DO like well-structured debates. I also like interesting structures.

7.� � � � I DO like creative interpretations; I DO NOT like when you donâ??t explain/provide a rationale for why I your interpretation makes for a productive/rewarding/interesting/good debate.

6.� � � � I DO NOT like nor understand potential abuse arguments; I DO like and reward teams that demonstrate compellingly that the quality of the debate has been compromised by an interpretive choice made by the other team.� 

5.� � � � I DO NOT vote for any given argument or against any given type of argument.� � Run whatever strategy you like; Be clear about your strategy.

4.� � � � I am a participant in the round also.� � While I make my best effort to vote on who is winning and losing the debate based on the arguments, I use speaker points to evaluate and highlight both excellent and poor behaviors, i.e. if you create a hostile environment, you get massively low speaker points.

3.� � � � Jargon does not equal argument. Nor does it equal a good time.

2.� � � Cross-application does not equal new argument. It doesnâ??t really equal anything.

1.� � � � Debate is not life.� � Losing a ballot will not steal your humanity.� � I tend to prefer rounds that demonstrate everyone in the room knows this.� 

0. Have Fun


Mike Catlos -- Lewis & Clark College

 

Nadia Steck -- Lewis & Clark College

Nadia here, I am currently the Coach for Lewis and Clark’s debate team I graduated from Concordia University Irvine where I debated for 2 years, before that I debated for Moorpark College for 3 years. I’m gonna give you a TL:DR for the sake of prep time/pre-round strategizing, I want my personal opinions to come into play as little as possible in the debate round. I want the debate to be about what the debaters tell me it should be about, be it the topic or something totally unrelated. I am fairly familiar with theory, policy, and critical debate. I don’t have a strong preference for any one of the three, all I want you to do is not be lazy and expect me to backfill warrants from my personal knowledge of arguments for you. If you don’t say it, it doesn’t end up on my flow, and thus it doesn’t get evaluated. There aren’t really any arguments I won’t listen to, and I will give the best feedback I have the ability to give after each round.

For out of round thinking or pre tournament pref sheets here are a few of the major things I think are important about my judging philosophy and history as a debater

•I hate lazy debate; I spent a lot of time doing research and learning specific contextualized warrants for most of the arguments I read. It will benefit you and your speaks to be as specific as possible when it comes to your warrants.

•I did read the K a lot during my time as a debater but that doesn’t mean I don’t also deeply enjoy a good topical debate

•I did read arguments tethered to my identity occasionally; if you want to read these sorts of arguments I am sympathetic to them, but I believe you should be ready to answer the framework debate well.

•As far as framework and theory arguments go, I am open to listening to any theory argument in round with the exception of Spec args, I honestly feel like a POI is enough of a check back for a spec arg. I have yet to meet a spec arg that was justified much beyond a time suck. If you’re In front of me, I give these arguments little credence so you should respond accordingly.

•As far as the actual voting issue of theory, I by default assume they are all Apriori, as theory is a meta discussion about debate and therefore comes as a prior question to whatever K/CP/DA is being read. When it comes to evaluating the impacts of theory, please please please do not be lazy and just say that fairness and/or education is the voter without justification. These are nebulous terms that could mean a thousand things, if you want to make me really happy as a judge please read more specific voters with a solid justification for them. This way I have a more concrete idea of what you mean instead of me having to insert my own ideas about fairness or education into the debate space.

•As far as policy debates go, I default net bens, and will tend to prefer probable impacts over big impacts. That being said, I am a sucker for a good nuke war or resource wars scenario. My favorite policy debates were always econ debates because of the technical nuance.

•Go as fast as you want, just make sure if your opponent calls clear or slow you listen because if they read theory or a K because you didn’t slow down or speak more clearly I will most likely vote you down.

•I am not a point fairy, I tend to be in the lower end of average speaks given, that being said, do a great job, make me chuckle, or reference the mountain goats and I’ll give you and your partner 30s


Rick Falvo -- El Paso Community College

n/a

Ron Price -- The College of Idaho

  Um so I really don't have a judging philosophy per se. Background in high school policy, high school Lincoln-Douglas and college parliamentary debate. I have been the Assistant Speech and Debate Director at the College of Idaho for over a decade. Prefer arguments that make sense and are logical. Prefer content over speed any day of the week. Have fun and be kind. I'm not sure what else to put down

Sarina Wang -- California State University, Northridge.

n/a

Sean McKean -- University of Oregon

Experience: 4 years policy debate at Tualatin High School, 4 years NPDA/NPTE experience at the University of Oregon. 3 years high school coaching experience at Thurston High School. Current NPDA/NPTE coach at Oregon.

Quick in prep version: In general I am down with just about anything, however I would much rather hear a good disad than some only tag lines and a bad alternative kritik. Theory was my jam when I was debating, so if you want to read it go ahead, however, I’m not going to vote for you just because you read it, while my threshold is probably lower than most judges I like to pretend I’m not a hack wink.

Longer (probably unnecessary) version

General Overveiw:

My ideal debate is a strategic topical aff v some CPs and a DA or a topic K. That being said, I tend to be down with anything you want to read in front of me, I believe that it is my job to adapt to you and the arguments you want to read not your job to adapt to me. I am not going to tell you what to or not to read in front of me or reject your arguments on face. I tend to prefer more technical debates where you explain to me how all of the relevant arguments interact at the end of the round over just extending them and making me try to figure it out myself at the end. I want to be able to write my RFD at the end of the round by sticking as much as possible to the flow without having to insert my own analysis, this means I want you to write my RFD for me, tell me why I should vote a particular way at the end of the round.

Impact framing is a lost art, it’s not helpful to just inform me that both teams do, in fact, have impacts. I want to hear how I should evaluate those impacts against each other, ie. Do I care more about fairness or education on the theory flow, is timeframe or magnitude more important, can I even evaluate arguments rooted in some kind of epistemology?

More specific stuff:

Theory/ T cool: I read a lot of theory when I was debating so I am pretty much able to follow what is going on in complex theory debates, although I would prefer that you slow down a bit when spreading theory since it is more condensed and harder to flow. I evaluate theory just like any other argument, which means I am probably more likley to vote on it than most judges if you go for it correctly. In order to win theory in front of me you are going to need to impact it out and explain what it means for the round. (IE just because they dropped your Consult CP's are illegit argument doesn't mean you insta-win if you don't give me some reason why that theory argument results in a ballot, not just me dropping the CP). I find myself voting a lot this year on teams forgetting to read a counter interp. If I am judging in a competing interps paradigm, which is usually how these things shake out, and there is not either an interp or a counter-interp that you meet I will vote against you regardless of the rest of the flow, as there is not an interp for me to stick your offense to. I think that this is a pretty common way of evaluating theory but I feel it is worth flagging explicitly in my philosophy given that I find myself voting on this a lot.

Framework money-mouth: Framework was my go-to when debating the K aff. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily shouldn’t or can’t read a K aff in front of me, just be aware than I’m not going to be one of those judges that just ignores the argument for some vague political reason.

K affs cry: I would prefer that if you are going to read an aff that isn’t topical that you have some good justification for doing so, I am not really interested in your “I read a cool book and here is my book report” project.

Ks undecided: I am down with the K, however there are some recent trends in the kritik that I feel need some addressing here. First, Marx was my bread and butter and I am fairly deep in that literature, but outside of that and maybe Heidegger you should not assume that I am incredibly well read in your lit base. That doesn’t mean that you can’t read your K in front of me, it just means that you are going to need to do some more explaining. Second, there has been a tendency of K’s becoming just a list of tag lines, that then get extended as arguments later in the debate. If your K sounds like this I am probably going to give the other team a lot more leeway in reading new arguments when your K finally becomes something in the block.

CP/ DA laughing: Ayyyyyyyyy


Serena Fitzgerald -- University of Oregon


Overview: I did LD in high school and debated for Western Washington in NPDA (graduated 2018).

TL;DR: Have fun and be yourself. I evaluate warrants over taglines. This shouldn’t be treated as a comprehensive guide to how I view debate; it highlights where I might diverge from (what I see as) national circuit norms. Feel free to message me on facebook or email me with questions at serena.e.fitzgerald@gmail.com.

NPDA:

Speaker points – I raise them for keeping me awake and reading particularly innovative arguments, even if they aren’t necessarily strategically flawless. It should go without saying, but I heavily deduct points for being racist/sexist/ableist etc or fueling systems of oppression in round.

Perms – In general, I’m more hesitant to vote on perms in K debates than many other judges seem to be; since the alternative only has to generate uniqueness, I don’t accept “the perm shields the links” as a one-shot kill to get out of the link debate. I need specific warrants for why the permutation would resolve each of the links the other team reads – otherwise I just treat it as an unwarranted tagline. Since the links are typically a question of the desirability of the permutation, rather than just its possibility, simply stating that the permutation could happen is not sufficient to wipe out the offense from the criticism. In terms of counterplans, I think that PICS and delay counterplans can justify “perm do the CP.”

Theory – I came from LD so I like “weird” arguments; I've read my fair share of what opponents have called "dogshit theory." Frankly, I prefer creative or even bizarre theory debates to the standard issues of PICS and T (though of course I will listen to whatever). I don't think theory is inherently a priori, and I have a comparatively low threshold for dismissing it in favor of substance if you’re winning framework arguments that say epistemology or ontology come first, but I will default to treating it as a priori absent arguments to the contrary and I won’t make those cross applications for you. I default to competing interpretations. I’m open to RVIs, particularly on MG theory or NIBs.

Kritiks – I’m cool with performance, nontopical K affs, etc. I did a lot of K debate in college and I think good K debates are some of the most fun to watch and have a lot of room for interesting innovation within debate, but I am also likely to judge mediocre Ks more harshly. Although I spent a lot of time calling T fascist when I read K affs as a debater, I do think that it’s a perfectly legitimate response to an untopical critical aff – and often a very strategic one, especially if it is specifically tailored to respond to the thesis of the case framework. That said, if you try to use T as a way to get out of engaging the case thesis at all, you will probably be fighting an uphill battle. A minor pet peeve of mine is “ivory tower” disads to critiques that

Advantages/Disads – I have a soft spot for good econ debates. Nuanced brink analysis that matches your links will definitely impress me and earn you higher speaks; however, because I majored in econ/poli sci, I’ll also probably know if your link story is nonsense or your uniqueness claims are just wrong, and I’ll be more prone to believe arguments against them. I’m probably give more weight than many judges to solid defense, and typically default to evaluating probability somewhat more heavily than magnitude absent impact calc telling me otherwise.


Tony Penders -- Bellevue College

n/a

Travis Cram -- Western Washington University

  Travis Cram

Director of Debate, Western Washington University

Years Judging: several

Email chain/contact: traviscram@gmail.com

Big picture for NPDA/NPTE folks: Below is my policy paradigm. Even if it doesn't translate perfectly, it is pretty accurate. Do your thing, argue well, have a great debate, chances are I'll follow along.

Despite the frustration I often have with debate, Iâ??m still fundamentally a fan of the game. I encourage anyone down on debate to try teaching. And I donâ??t mean â??be an educator.â? Get in front of a classroom and work with a group of students and realize how lucky we are to have so many students who care at all to find their voice and make an argument. However, although my perspective or method of judging hasnâ??t changed, two things related to â??debate about debateâ? have been on my mind.

First, every debate Iâ??ve judged contains a set of assumptions about what the activity we are involved in IS and what that activity is capable of accomplishing. When those assumptions are the terms of the debate, I find many arguments made to be unpersuasive. So let me foreground my own assumptions to help make your arguments more compelling. This quote from Rowland (1987) has always resonated with me: â??Academic debate is a poor means of making policy or testing science, but a very good means of teaching the argument skills necessary to perform in those fields.â? Of course, that statement needs updating. Academic debate is also a poor means of academic research. Our various filters and constraints distort too much and leave too much out. Our â??scholarshipâ? is oftentimes a wordy literature review. It is also a very poor means of evaluating policy or understanding risk. Cases and disadvantages say little about the collective action dilemmas, institutional cultures, resource limits, or contextual constraints that inhere in decision-making. Despite the limitations, debate is an excellent means of cultivating the faculties necessary to excel in any of these endeavors. Rowland again: â??Through dialectical interchange, debate teaches students to discover, build, test, and refute arguments.â? What is the upshot of all of this? I think debate matters a lot. And I think the reason it matters is because it teaches students how to argue. Thus, I prioritize â??debate frameworksâ? that seek to teach students how to argue well.

Second, I am troubled by debateâ??s recent â??substantialistâ? turn wherein the threshold for argumentative engagement is to read specific evidence against an opponentâ??s argument while topicality or theory arguments are dismissed as â??dodgingâ? the debate. Placing procedural arguments beyond the pale makes little sense to me. Debate is a game of arguments. Arguments consist of a claim, grounds for believing it, and the reasoning that connects those two. A well-reasoned explanation about what debate practices should be, when supported with plausible examples, makes a helluva lot more sense than â??substantive engagementâ? with evidence that bears zero relationship to competitive debate other than at the level of basic vocabulary. Moreover, if debate is a game best left to the students, it seems fairly obvious that that should also entail giving students the freedom to argue over the gameâ??s procedure. The upshot? Topicality makes more sense to me than framework. Debate theory matters, and it can matter a lot if done well.

My previous philosophy follows:

Big picture things:

- Thereâ??s not a â??right wayâ?? to debate other than to communicate or argue well. That said, in terms of that whole K/policy divide thing (if it is a thing), I think there is a major educational benefit to finding a way to affirm a topic that doesnâ??t devolve into just impact-turning framework. Basically, the following two statements are equally unpersuasive: â??It is unethical to affirm the topic.â? â??Policy-making is the only relevant consideration.â?

- Debate is a lot of things to me, but I privilege its communication and argumentation aspects ahead of others. That has pretty big implications depending on your interpretation of â??I said thatâ??...

- Specificity is my god-term in debate. The more specific at every level, the more likely I am to be persuaded by it.

- Debaters make arguments using evidence; evidence does not make arguments. The claims or verbiage of a card are less important to me than the reasons provided by you or the author for believing it.

- I donâ??t have a formula or an algorithm; last rebuttals should articulate the world they are going for. Saying something is 'logically possible' is not the same as defending the status quo as a policy, or actually making a floating pic.

- The affirmative has the Burden of Proof to overcome presumption. The team advancing an individual argument has the burden of proof to advance a complete argument. If the significance of that distinction is unclear to you, ask and I can happily explain.

- High speaker points: demonstrating specific knowledge, identifying crux questions, dynamic warrant comparisons (even if, because), explanatory clarity (esp. in 2nr/2ar), humor and civility, clarity, and proficiency at line-by-line execution. I also have soft-spots for teams that are risk-takers, scrappy, or willing to impact turn some stuff.

Topicality:

- All interpretations must be reasonable. Negatives need to win a real impact to T, not just that debate could be better or simply go for â??our violation is more preciseâ??. Affirmatives need to have a real impact to excluding their plan that doesnâ??t rely on impact turning T as genocidal or calculative.

Theory & Counterplan competition:

- Theory arguments are best when the link and impact are both things the negative did, not necessarily what they justified. Elaboration and pen-time can make these arguments very viable.

- I am generally suspicious of any CP that either: logically allows for the entire affâ??s mandate to occur in some world; doesnâ??t compete off of an explicit stance taken in the plan or 1ac; does not contain a solvency advocate that assumes every level of fiat/mandate the CP engages in.

- I am highly unlikely to reject any counterplan that has ALL of the following: a comprehensive solvency advocate; excludes part of the affimativeâ??s explicit mandate; uses the same actor as the plan.

- Conditionality as it concerns counterplans that donâ??t do the plan in anyway is good. Conditionality as it concerns the negative doing any and everything under the sun is very questionable.

Disadvantages:

- I love them. I love them even more when the cards are good and the link is strong. Still not signing up for the cult of uniqueness. The phrase â??uniqueness determines the direction of the linkâ?? is at best nonsense and at worse an excuse for having a crappy disadvantage.

- This is the area where evidence quality and specificity are often the most important. This is also the area where these questions are often the least debated.

- Most 'turns the case' arguments are not turns but are solvency take-outs or mitigators. If you have all of the components of a turn, by all means argue it like a turn. If you don't, I think you'd be better off arguing that it is a solvency take-out, which should prompt you to find some external offense or the aff will likely win a classic try or die frame to their advantage.

Criticisms:

- I find sanctimonious indignation annoying, no matter who it comes from. Yes, they read a K. Get over it. Yes, they impact turned your K. Get over it.

- The following two statements are equally absurd: â??the ethical/methodological underpinnings of the aff are irrelevant.â? â??the consequences/outcomes of enacting the aff are irrelevant.â?

- I think that a specific critique of the affirmative is a negative response that has its place in debate. Topicality creates bigger barriers to whether philosophical approaches have their place on the aff side of the topic.

- â??Method/ontology/ethics firstâ?? type arguments only raise the level of play to encompass those considerations as relevant variables; it still invites another set of debating by both sides to either defend or indict specific methodologies as broken or valuable. Thus, â??they concede method firstâ?? doesnâ??t create a side constraint on my flow like it may for other judges.

- I find assertions about what the role of the ballot is or should be to be pretty silly and arbitrary, frankly. I think instead you should interpret what DEBATE is (what type of activity is it and what is its function) in an empirical sense as a way of framing arguments.

- Critical debate is where the likelihood that I will not vote on an argument simply because I donâ??t understand it is the highest.

Miscellaneous- hereâ??s some random crap you may or may not find interesting:

- Negotiated impact turn debates are awesome. Try it sometime.

- Have a timer and donâ??t steal prep.

- Levity is a virtue. At the end of the day, debate is absurd and it makes little sense to let its pressures rule your emotions or behavior. Be willing and able to laugh at yourself above all else and keep a healthy dose of perspective even when the round gets heated. Let me underscore that. Donâ??t be a jerk. Being good at debate doesnâ??t excuse you from being a terrible human being.