Wisconsin State Debate Festival

2014 — WI/US

The WHSFA invites member and partner high schools to participate in our second-annual culminating state debate tournament. This year, Ripon College (click for directions/lodging/etc.) has graciously agreed to host.


The emphasis of this contest is on the spirit of collaboration over competition, and empowerment of young people in self-directed learning. In that spirit, politeness, respect, collegiality, and authenticity of communication are paramount. Judges should evaluate what students say, rather than what they ought to have said. Ahead of the tournament, coaches should prepare students to think for themselves, rather than hovering around rounds during the tournament and telling students what arguments to run.


Any number of entries may be registered, by 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 8, with one judge for every two entries, and coaches should bring lay, non-debate specialist judges whenever possible. This does not preclude judges who have experience in debate, but they should be aware that the prime objective of this contest is to build participation, and not on esoteric technicalities of debate theory. There is no fee to participate; however, uncovered judging obligations will be assessed at a rate of $100/judge, payable to WHSFA. For for any special needs/dietary restrictions accommodations your students or judges may have, please contact us.

Pre-Order Lunch Tickets

We encourage schools to order meal tickets for students and judges ahead of time through this entry website. For judges and coaches, light refreshments, but not full lunches, will be available in the lounge (so, please consider ordering through this site). Checks may be made payable to WHSFA (in return, you will receive meal tickets), or students/judges may pay directly with cash or credit card in the Ripon College Dining Hall. Pre-ordering helps the college plan how much food to have on-hand.



  8:00 a.m. - Registration Begins, Todd Wehr 104
  8:30 a.m. - Registration Ends; Meeting for Debaters and Judges, Todd Wehr 104
  9:00 a.m. - Round 1
  9:45 a.m. - Round 2
10:45 a.m. - Round 3
11:45 a.m. - Round 4
--- LUNCH ---
  1:00 p.m. - Semifinals
  2:00 p.m. - Finals, Todd Wehr 104
  3:15 p.m. - Awards, Todd Wehr 104


The topic will be released Dec. 1, and will be the following January National Speech & Debate Association topic:

  • Resolved: United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.

Contest Rules/Guidelines

We use the Public Forum format for debate, with one modification in timing: the Final Focus will be up to one minute in length. Also, speaker points are on a scale of 1-10.


Rounds 1 and 2 will be randomly paired; Rounds 3 and 4 will be power-matched, high/low within brackets. Multiple teams from the same school will not be protected against each other. The emphasis of this contest is on the achievement of individual teams, and not schools/squads, overall. Elimination rounds will consist of a panel of an odd number of judges. The final round will compile a vote of all student observers who write a ballot as counting equivalent strength to one adult judge.


We will allow judges the option to input e-ballots. Read instructions here (thank you, John Knetzger of West Bend and Jim Menick of Hendrick Hudson HS, NY, for compiling these instructions).