John Lewis SVUDL Invitational formerly SCU Dempsey Cronin

2020 — Santa Clara/ Online, CA/US

Click here to access the John Lewis SVUDL wing on

Make sure you are logged into Tabroom first!

Updated Rules and Tournament Procedures can be found here

Please watch this welcome video from SVUDL Executive Director, Rolland Janairo

Dear Colleagues, 

The Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (SVUDL) and the Santa Clara University (SCU) Debate Society present:

The John Lewis SVUDL Invitational, formerly known as the SCU Dempsey-Cronin (aka SCU 1).

This year, the Silicon Valley Urban Debate League has taken ownership of the SCU Dempsey Cronin, and will be running an online speech and debate invitational to be held the weekend before Thanksgiving, from Nov 20-22. Members of the SCU Debate Society will be working with SVUDL to put together this tournament, and we invite you and your squads to join us.

All proceeds from this tournament will go to the Silicon Valley Urban Debate League, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to empower Silicon Valley students, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status, to reach their full potential to become professional and community leaders by teaching critical thinking and communication skills through speech and debate programming.

SVUDL is pleased to honor the legacy of the late Congressman John Lewis by naming this speech and debate tournament after him. Born near Troy, Alabama in 1940, Congressman Lewis devoted his life to securing civil rights, fair and equal access to voting rights, and was a tireless soldier who literally and repeatedly risked his life in the movement against racial segregation and injustice.

Congressman Lewis became a civil rights activist in his youth, and through mentorship by leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he learned and practiced the powers of persuasive speech and argument. By commemorating him in this way, SVUDL hopes that students participating in the tournament will be inspired to learn more about his life and achievements and also encouraged to trust and believe in the power of their voices as they engage in competitive speech and debate activities, and beyond. To honor the namesake of the tournament and in keeping with the national policy debate topic of criminal justice reform, a portion of the net proceeds from the tournament will be donated in memory of Congressman Lewis to The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama, a project of the Equal Justice Initiative.

We are also pleased to announce that we are again a NIETOC designated bid tournament for those interested in the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions.  We are also designated as a bid tournament for speech and semifinals bid in Public Forum for the Tournament of Champions, held by the University of Kentucky.

We will be using the platform for our online tournament. All debate formats will start Friday, November 20 this year. Speech events and Congress start Saturday, November 21. Sunday elimination rounds are staggered between debate and speech events.

More information about will be posted closer to the date of the tournament. Please note, does not have a squad room feature (like NSDA Campus), so teams should arrange their own virtual squad rooms for the tournament.

All speech events, except for DUO Interp, will be done live. DUO will done asynchronously, but all judging will be done live, during the other scheduled speech rounds.

All debate events will also be done live.

All tournament registration will be on Information regarding online platform use for the tournament will be released in the coming weeks. 

Please note that the schedule listed is tentative. Depending on the size of entry, the schedule may be adjusted. A finalized schedule will be posted in the coming weeks.  

A full invitation, including event rules and online tournament procedures, will be posted here on Tabroom in the next few weeks. Registration will be open on September 1st.

If you have any questions regarding the tournament or registration, please email Tournament Director Mariel Cruz at or contact SVUDL at 


The system will accept new entries until NOON Friday, November 13, 2020. Make drops and adds through Tabroom after that up until the tournament begins. However, changes or drops made after Wednesday, November 18, 2019 at NOON will be charged a $10 nuisance fee. All space in debate and speech will be allocated on a first come, first served based on the tournament caps listed below; register early! 


Tournament Caps and Waitlist

Due to the size of the tournament, we will be placing caps on the debate events. Each school will be allotted 4 entries per division per debate event. All entries over the caps will be waitlisted.

Entries may also be waitlisted if the tournament reaches capacity. Schools will be moved off the waitlist as space opens up. Schools that have not already taken up their allotted slots in each event will be moved first, and schools with completed judge entries will also be given preference. Remaining waitlisted entries will be moved on a first-come, first-serve basis.


TBA Entries

All TBA Entries will be waitlisted until names are entered. The deadline to enter names for TBA entries will be November 4, 2020. Any TBA entries without names after this date will be removed from the tournament.


Judging Requirements

Schools are required to fulfill at least 50% of their debate and events requirement when fees are assessed on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. That means, you can’t buy out of more than 50% of your judge commitment. Please see the list of fees for uncovered judge fees. 

Schools will pay a judging penalty fee per speech slot, Congress entry, Lincoln Douglas/Duo Interp or debate team not covered by school judges. Please note, Congress judges may be asked to also judge speech since they will be in the same pattern and judge pool.



Judge Coverage


1 judge covers 3 teams


1 judge covers 2 teams

Public Forum

1 judge covers 4 teams

Lincoln Douglas

1 judge covers 4 debaters

Individual Speech Events

1 judge covers 6 entries


1 judge covers 6 entries


Judges are committed one round past where their school drops from competition. Judges are assumed to be experienced and prepared to judge their assigned events or debate formats. Debate judges are free to determine style questions at the beginning of each round. Debate judges must have properly linked Tabroom accounts for online ballot entry. School judges who fail to check in to their rounds online when assigned may have their team fined the aforementioned penalties per round. Please contact us if you're unsure of your judging commitment, or have any other questions regarding judging.



Use this form to compute how much you will owe at registration: 


__1__ School Fee X $50                              = $50

____ number of Event entries/Congress entered X $25= _____

____ number of Duo Teams entered X $40                = _____ 

____ number of Parli teams/PF teams X $70      = _____ 

____ number of LD entries X $50                              = _____ 

____ number of Policy Teams X $70                        = _____   

Penalties for Not Providing School Judges: 

You are obligated to cover 50% of your judging requirement in debate and events with school judges.

____ Speech Event entries/Congress entries uncovered X $25 = _____

____ LD Entries/Public Forum teams X $75 = _____ 

_____Parli/Policy entries uncovered X $100 = _____ 

Total Fees = ____________  

Please make checks payable to “Silicon Valley Urban Debate League” and mail to:

Silicon Valley Urban Debate League

502 Valley Way

Milpitas, CA 95035


Or pay online here - SVUDL John Lewis Paypal QR Code


Following with the mission of SVUDL, we would like to ensure that this tournament is made accessible to all teams that would like to participate. We understand that the current situation of COVID-19 may have put schools in unprecedented financial situations. If your school/program has concerns or issues regarding fees, please email  for information regarding fee discounts. 



L/D Debate Topic: NSDA Nov/Dec topic  

Policy Debate Topic: National topic on Criminal Justice Reform

Public Forum: NSDA November Public Forum Topic.

Parliamentary Debate: one topic will be provided for each prelim; for elim rounds, teams will be given three topics and will do strikes to determine the topic



All speech and debate events will be synchronous (live), except for DUO interpretation, which will be entirely asynchronous. 

All speech and debate events will offer a novice and open division. We reserve the right to collapse divisions if entry size is too small for two separate divisions.

Novice is defined as a student’s first year of competition, or not advancing to an elimination round in your first two years of competition, regardless of debate format.



Debate Pattern: Policy, Parliamentary, Public Forum and Lincoln-Douglas Debate plus Congress in one pattern. 

Events Pattern: Extemporaneous/Dramatic Interpretation /Expository/Original Prose Poetry / Oratorical Interpretation/ Impromptu /Original Oratory /Humorous Interpretation/Thematic Interpretation and Duo Interpretation (asynchronous).  

Double entries in Events are allowed. Competitors may also enter in one debate event and up to two speech events. However, competitors should be aware of the increased screen time that will come with entering multiple events. 


General Tournament Rules

School registration in part or whole may be rejected due to space considerations - please register early! Every year several schools cannot attend or have their entries restricted.

The tournament will consist of six preliminary debate rounds for varsity, five prelims debate rounds for novice, and the three preliminary rounds of varsity and open events. We reserve the right to combine divisions if the entry warrants.  

Persuasive will include both advocacy (Original Advocacy) and other "persuasive" speeches (Original Oratory).  Extemp is combined national and international. Semifinals will be held in individual events with 50 or more entries or the discretion of the tournament director. Undersubscribed events may waive finals. Due to scheduling, we will only be breaking to Double octos for debate, events, entries permitting. 



Please designate the PO's with a 'po' for every ten entries via email to Please note that Congress judges will be listed under IE's. Please enter Congress judges into the IE judge pool. Bills will posted on the tournament webpage on a couple weeks prior to the start of the tournament.