Novice Round Up

2020 — Dallas, TX/US

Clipping Guidelines

NDCA Suggested Guidelines For Card Clipping Accusations modified for use in the context of our tournament which is for first year debaters.

Our tournament is a uniquely good opportunity to have teaching moments. Many of the students at our tournament already have a substantial amount of experience and now is a particularly good time to ensure they understand both the gravity of clipping and the gravity of making accusations of clipping. I strongly suggest you share this document with your students and discuss with them its contents.

The following are the guidelines for judges in resolving “card clipping” accusations: 

1.  At whatever point the accusation happens, the judge should immediately pause the debate.

2. The judge should read the definition of clipping to the students.

Clipping is defined as:

“A judge should find clipping has occurred when a debater represents they have read ten words or more that they did not read in any speech. If the judge finds that clipping has occurred the penalty is a loss for the team and zero speaker points for the debater who "clipped." If a team makes a false accusation of clipping the penalty is a loss and zero speaker points for both debaters on the team who made the false accusation.

Technical malfunction isn't an excuse for clipping. Debaters have an obligation to accurately represent the material they have read. If a judge finds that students represented they read material that they did not read then it's clipping and penalties should be imposed even if the judge doesn't think there was ill intent.

The enforcement is left solely to the discretion of the judge(s) and can not be appealed to the tabroom. Judges are welcome to discuss with the tournament director how to handle the situation.

 3. The judge may allow the accused team to clarify what they read and what they did NOT read. If the accused team clarifies and the accusing team is amenable to the change(s) the debate should proceed.

4. If an accusation of clipping remains the judge should inform both teams that either the accused team will be found guilty of clipping and will receive a loss and the offending student will be given zero speaker points, or the accused team will be found innocent of clipping and the accusing team will receive the loss and both receive zero speaking points.  It should be made clear that the accusers must have some type of verifiable evidence that clipping occurred. “We don’t think they read everything” is not sufficient.*** The accusing team can then decide to continue with or cease in their accusation of clipping. In the event that they decide not to level the accusation, the debate proceeds as normal. If the accusing team decides they will indeed make a clipping accusation the debate ceases and the round is decided entirely on whether or not clipping has occurred.

5. The accusing team then presents their evidence of clipping to the judge(s) (a recording, differences in marked evidence documents, etc.)

6. The judge(s) reviews the evidence and makes a decision on whether or not the definition of clipping has been violated or not.

*In the event that the judge feels that insufficient evidence exists, and the judge has no firsthand knowledge the clipping occurred, the win should go to the team being accused.

7. Judges are encouraged to use this as a teaching moment in the decision process. Judges should try to maintain respectful and helpful instructions to both sides while rendering their decision based on the result of the accusation.

8. When filling out the ballot, make sure to write the basis and explanation for decision so that coaches can be made aware of the context of the situation.

9. Please also alert the tab room/tournament director so they can note that a debate was decided based on clipping accusations.

*All discussion while adjudicating the decision should happen in front of both teams. The judge should refrain from any private conversations with only one team or debater, so as to maintain complete transparency.

**None of this precludes a judge, based on their own judgment, from deciding clipping has occurred. As has been traditional practice, judges are empowered based on their own flow, following speech documents, recordings and/or other information that clipping has occurred and to level appropriate penalties.

***This should go without saying but if the judge also thinks “they probably aren’t reading everything they are representing they read” using the pause in the debate to begin recording, demanding speaker clarity, asking for speech documents, etc. and sending a clear signal that clipping won’t be tolerated is more than justified.