Last changed on
Sat October 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM UTC
I am the current director of speech and debate at the Milwaukee School of Languages.
From 1997-2004, I competed in LD, Congress, Policy, and most speech events in high school and college. Since then, I have coached all events at one time or another.
I will not vote for debaters who physically threaten or verbally abuse their partners or opponents; if you offend your opponent in some way, an authentic apology and reckoning is generally your best option to continue the round.
I would like to be on the email chain (firstname.lastname@example.org), but only for reference after the round; I will not read along as a substitute for clarity. I will say clear twice if I can't understand you because of enunciation, but then you're probably on your own. If you spread theory blocks/underviews, I can't understand you and I won't be able to flow it.
I will make decisions that are good if:
you explain things to me; you establish a clear standard, role of the ballot, value, or other mechanism and explain to me how I can use that to make my decision; you compare or weigh offense and explain how it is linked to a standard.
I will make decisions that are bad if:
you expect me to do work for you on the flow or among your arguments; you assume I know more than I do.
I will listen to and attempt to flow any speed, but I strongly believe that the faster you go, the less I or any judge will understand. I am reading every week to better understand all sorts of critical theory, but dense stuff delivered at speed is going to be tough for me; ditto for theory/underview/analytic blocks that are a series of two-sentence claims delivered in three second bursts.
I probably will not vote for theory without a clearly explained abuse/harm story and an indication of how the ballot will remedy or prevent that abuse/harm.
I don't think I have any other ideological preferences for argument types or structure; within the constraints listed above, do whatever you'd like and explain to me why it merits my ballot.
PF: if it's in the final focus, it needs to have been in the summary. A complete extension has a link and an impact, preferably with evidence for each. I prefer to make decisions based on clean flow-work; lacking a clean story on the flow, I will occasionally call for evidence to help resolve an issue; I often find myself assessing the 'risk of offense' at the end of rounds based on flow work, evidence quality, consistency of the story between summary and final focus, and the degree of opposition the argument received.
Congress: I care deeply about inclusion and equity, especially in moments where students can have direct influence on which voices are heard. Please work to include everyone in all aspects of procedure and debate.
Any other specifics, please ask.
Speaker Points: I find that a lot of paradigms have speaker point sections that sound like "30 - you're going to win the tournament", and I think that's not helpful (it doesn't really tell the student how to obtain better speaker points) and maybe also actively bad (if you can only get a 30 if the judge thinks you can win the tournament, it means debaters need rep to earn speaker points). So I will try to give you some specific criteria to keep in mind for speaker points in front of me; I'll also probably adjust these criteria and speaker point values over time, and for tournaments that have different speaker point norms.
A top-level speaker (29.5-30) will: demonstrate a strong commitment to explanation, argument comparison, and persuasion; enunciate clearly and consistently; treat their opponent with respect and empathy.
A second-tier speaker (29-29.5) will enunciate clearly and treat their opponent with respect; they will explain arguments well, but generally not do a superior job of comparing/weighing arguments or persuading me of their position's value or truth.
A third-tier speaker (28.5-29) will enunciate clearly and treat their opponent with respect; they will explain their arguments, but may not compare arguments or make an attempt to persuade me.
A fourth-tier speaker (28-28.5) will treat their opponent with respect but may have some clarity issues; they will explain their arguments but could do a better job with the explanation.
A fifth-tier speaker (27.5-28) will not treat their opponent with respect (they may be condescending, or mean, or dismissive, etc) and/or may have clarity issues; they typically do not explain their arguments.
Below a 27.5 would require a confluence of the issues described above.