Plano Senior Clark Swing
2020 — Plano, TX/US
Policy Debate Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Hi! Please call me Sim, not ma’am/judge/etc. and please use gender neutral pronouns. You can let me know how you'd like to be referred to if not listed on tab.
I am the policy debate coach at Valley High School. My other active affiliations are: Little Rock LP, Judy Zhu at Colleyville, and Richardson JJ in LD.
I formerly coached at Colleyville Heritage (TX), Westview (OR), Beacon (NY), and Baltimore City College (MD) and I instructed at NSD PF 2021 and SWSDI PF 2020.
Some other relevant (or maybe not) information about me – I’m studying Biology and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins. My views on debate are profoundly influenced by Michael Koo and Joseph Barquin. There are certain arguments that I am principally against and will likely not vote for it, they include climate change denialism, anti-vaccination, orientalist rhetoric, claims on mass death/suicide being good, and any advocacy where a Western nation bombs the Global South. American heg good isn’t my favorite argument but I’d vote for it even if I didn’t want to. Anything generally x-ist will be dropped and speaks will be low.
Notes to all:
Tech determines what is true for the round. Obviously, I have ideological predispositions and I don't think it's useful for anyone to pretend I don't or I'm a blank slate. But at the end of the day, little of my biases (as strong as they may be) are immovable -- the sounder warranting always wins my ballot. Some things I am immovable on are having a win/loss for my ballot, speech times, x-ism being bad (do not try these impact turns in front of me).
I can hardly recall a round I’ve judged without the K in it. This is my forte and the strategy I’m most familiar with. You don’t *have* to go for the K in front of me, I’m competent enough to judge most styles, but I’m a good judge for you if that’s your go-to. If you like a straight policy strategy, that’s great too! I prefer soft left scenarios, but again, a mild preference and nothing more. Consider striking me if your strategies are comprised of theory cheapshots or tricks – these are not rounds I’m comfortable adjudicating.
I’m able to follow speed, but I sincerely believe that the pace y’all go at is unnecessary and most of the time, detrimental. Take your time and be purposeful with your speed. Just because you can dump cards at 500wpm does not mean you should – I promise that you can deliver warrants and implications at a slower pace. I will say “slow” or “clear” thrice – if you fail to adapt, I’ll simply write what I catch and if I fail to understand most of your speech… unfortunate. I hardly ever rely on the word document, so please don’t think sending everything out means this doesn’t apply to you.
Collapse on the path of least resistance – it will be well rewarded in speaks. Please warrant and implicate your arguments, a card means nothing in and of itself without your analysis and spin. Be comparative! Layer, frame, and filter arguments in rebuttals. If you leave me with unresolved issues, I’m sure you’ll hate the assumptions I make, so be sure you fill in the gaps for me. Extending an argument that has been cold conceded doesn't mean you can tagline extend, you still need to tell me what the warrants are and weigh.
Do not bother post-rounding me in bad faith. It is triggering and causes harm and discomfort to all parties present. I am open to answering questions, I am not open to being berated or yelled at by you or your coaches. It is ironic how some of y’all will read arguments about equity in debate and then yell at a femme of color once the round is over.
I am also very neurodivergent. My attention span and memory can be very poor – if I ask you multiple times what the order is prior to your speeches, I promise it’s not because I’m not paying attention to you/the round. This also means that if you email me significantly after a round has occurred for feedback and I’m vague or tell you I don’t remember much, it’s not because you were bad! If you’re hoping for additional written feedback or answers to questions, emailing me sooner is better. If you are a debater who needs specific accommodations, please feel free to let me know and I’ll adjust what I can.
I care about educational and meaningful debates happening. At the end of the day, I want y’all to research and read strategies that enrich you and make you excited about this activity and to learn. Don’t forget to take breaks from your screen as much as you can, drink water, and go on walks.
• Kritiks - You can read them on the aff or neg. I'm very familiar with most structural kritiks and I'm good for identity debate, also good with performance! Pomo kritiks are fine -- I'm not super versed in these literature bases, so have robust explanations. But regardless of what I enjoy or know well, the burden is on you to do the explanations and debating. Don't assume that I'll vote for you just because you read a kritik -- being so familiar with these strategies means that my bar is fairly high for debating them well and I'll notice if you're regurgitating camp blocks I judge every weekend. Buzzwords and jargon are neither explanations or analysis. You should have a clear link to the resolution (or debate, but having a topic link will serve you well) and examples (both historical and current) in your narrative. You should contextualize your thesis and links to the arguments in the round. I really appreciate organized link walls -- please label them (numbering is usually effective, or having specific tags for them) -- and you shouldn't be re-asserting the 1nc, but be responsive to the 2ac in the link debate. When I vote against a kritik, it's usually because -- (1) The ontology debate wasn't implicated. Tell me why if your thesis is true, I can't vote aff. (2) The link debate is too generic with no specific indicts of the aff's mechanisms. (3) I don't know what the world of the alt looks like and how it resolves any impacts. I am the most impressed by K debaters who are able to make complex arguments simple.
• Framework - I am not as averse to this as people seem to think. If you're winning FW and losing the K, just go for FW -- I value the path of least resistance more than my argumentative biases. I prefer education and skills impacts rather than procedural fairness as a principle. The sabotage disadvantage does very well in front of me -- I am going to be very compelled to vote for your model of debate if you can explain how it can access the aff. This means I need a TVA, even one that solves a fraction of the aff -- winning FW will be an uphill battle without one. Please organize your standards and label them. Don't forget to weigh.
• Theory and Topicality: Not my strong suit and these debates are the hardest for me to resolve. I default to competing interpretations and it's really frustrating to judge these rounds when the interpretation isn't connected to the standards. I sort of view these shells as like a disadvantage with the interpretation being the gateway (link) to accessing your standards (internal links), and the voters being the impact. The definitions debate is so important, please tell me why yours is preferable.
• Disadvantages: I don't have much to say here. I'm not a big fan of the heg disadvantage, but if you must. I think most disads have terrible internal links and affirmative teams can probably beat it with smart analytics and rehighlightings. Focus on uniqueness and link framing, I care about this more than the impact debate. Don't forget to outweigh the aff though.
• Counterplans: I hardly ever judge these but I do know how. I will vote on a severance or intrinsic perm if it is conceded. Explain the net benefit, weigh it, and when extending solvency, please don't just read more cards -- actually tell me the warrants and explain how your CP resolves impacts.
• Perms: I get really frustrated with perm debates. Repeatedly extending "perm do both" or "perm do the aff through the lens of the alt" is not sufficient for my ballot, even if the neg drops it. Tell me how the perm functions, what it solves, and why it's better than the neg's advocacy. Having perm texts would benefit you.
• I would read the policy section. I am a fine judge for you if you read Ks or straight policy strategies, but I do not do well with niche LD things. I am very very inexperienced in phil debates and don't recommend those strategies in front of me, but if you must, please explain like I am a parent. I do not know what a "paradox", "permissibility", or "a priori" is and I'm fine not knowing -- I am not the judge for tricks. I also don't know what "truth-testing" is. If you decide to use these words in front of me and/or you want to go for (insert philosopher's name here) -- again, and I mean this extremely sincerely, explain like I am a parent and new to debate.
• I'd say that this is the event I am the strictest in, but that is because I think PF has a desperate need for new norms and I refuse to be complicit in some of these awful practices.
• Feel free to read kritiks and "progressive" arguments in front of me, but my standards for good debating haven't shifted just because it's PF -- you must do it well. If you don't know what you're talking about, read a case that you do know.
• Nothing is sticky. If it is not in the summary speeches, it better not be in the final focus speeches.
• Your evidence should be cut cards with proper citations -- if you don't know how to do this, there are YouTube videos. I will not be accepting a PDF, a link, or a card that has been clearly miscut and has missing information as "evidence". If that is what you provide me, your speaks are capped at 27 and I will discount it and assume your argument is an analytic.. at best.
• I will give you 5 minutes to exchange evidence (on top of prep) and I will be timing this. If y'all take up more than the 5 minutes, it will start coming out of your prep time. Too many rounds I've been in have been delayed by inefficient evidence exchange. You can either accept 5 minutes, or both teams can agree to sending all evidence read prior to a speech beginning, like in policy and LD. If you opt for sending all evidence, everyone's speaks will be boosted by 0.5.
• If you disclose on the wiki and show me proof (just email me before speeches start), I'll bump your speaks up by 0.3. I am willing to vote against disclosure theory, but don't make me.
• I give leeway for paraphrasing if you are in the novice or JV division. If I'm judging varsity PF, especially at a bid tournament, all teams that paraphrase will receive no higher than a 27.
• I do not know what "scope" weighing is and pointing out that your impact evidence has a bigger number is rudimentary, morbid, and a cop-out from actually analyzing and comparing scenarios. Please warrant and clash -- too many PF rounds are ship sailing past each other in the night. Tagline extensions, going "it's game over", and neglecting warrants of a card in favor of telling me the author's name or that "it contains empirics" (with no further explanation) is simply, not debating. If you're doing this in hopes of persuading me, you won't like your speaks.
email chain firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been competing and/or coaching in various speech and debate events since 2011. My primary experience is with policy (national circuit/toc, tfa, and regional/local traditional circuits) and parli (npda/npte). I judge almost every weekend, and I spend a lot of time in debate since it is essentially my full-time job, so I am relatively up-to-date on debate trends and norms, as well as discussions of the criminal justice topic. I typically judge ~50+ rounds a year.
I don’t have any predispositions regrading the content, structure, or style of your arguments. I will defer to evaluating the debate through an offense/defense paradigm absent a team winning an argument for me to evaluate it another way. Clear impact weighing in the rebuttals and evidence/warrant comparison are typically what I notice in teams I enjoy judging.
I attempt to be a ’technical’ judge in every round I watch. I try to keep a detailed flow, and use my flow to evaluate the round that happened. If the flow doesn’t decide a clear winner, I will then look to the quality of evidence/warrants provided. I tend to find I’m less interested in where an argument in presented than others. While clear line-by-line is always appreciated, some of my favorite debaters to watch were overview-heavy debaters who made and answered arguments in the debate while telling a persuasive story of the debate. I would rather you sound organized and clear than following a template throughout each flow.
I will most likely not vote on ‘independent voting issues’ unless it’s an egregious instance. This is separate from ethics concerns, like cheating, card clipping, etc. I am not persuaded by claims that I should evaluate the entirety of the debate based upon a single argument on my flow. Particular rhetorical abuses, such as racist, sexist, transphobic remarks are a different story, and I will hold those to much higher scrutiny than a claim that I should decide a whole debate because the 2ac read a severance perm.
Instead of framing debates through ‘body counts’, I am much more persuaded by framing as ‘who saves the most lives’, or who has the best advocacy for change. Sometimes debaters talk about claims of very real violence and problems for various communities with little regard to the real world implications of their political advocacies.
I tend to prefer specific plan texts over vague plan texts. I also like specific internal link claims and impact scenarios. Specific instances of war are more persuasive to me than ‘goat power war’ claims.
counterplans, disads, & case turns
I would prefer you read at least once piece of solvency evidence per plank in the 1nc. Obviously that’s not a hard rule, but I will hold CPs that read multiple planks with no evidence in the 1nc to much higher scrutiny than a sufficiently developed 1nc shell.
I tend to lean neg on most CP theories. Obviously, the debate is to be had, but I am generally more persuaded that the negative should get access to most CPs and conditional advocacies. Specific claims about instances in-round to generate offense in these debates is much more persuasive than generic standard debates. I am more willing to vote on reject the argument than reject the team.
I find I am more willing to judge-kick in the 2nr than most judges, but think this is still a debate that needs to be had. The 2nr must have a persuasive reason for me to judge kick, and the 2ar can still win that I ought not judge kick.
Uniqueness guides the direction of the link. I like robust development of each level of the debate for disads and case turns, while telling a clear story about the thesis of the disad. I decide the probability of your impact based on the link and internal link level of the debate, and find that often times 2nrs are lacking on this level of the disad flow.
I think the impact turn is a lost art and have a special place in my heart for them. The same is to be said for developed case turn debates.
To me, the best kritiks are the ones that clearly identify a theory of power or possesses some sort of a structural analysis. I am most persuaded by specific historical examples and a clear alternative that frames what my ballot does.
The link level of the debate tends to be the most important in my making my decision at the end of the round. I like developed link blocks, and think that the aff often times doesn’t adequately handle the link section of the debate.
In reformism v revolution debates, I prefer explanations that pinpoint why the conditions of the status quo are the way they are, and can best explain casualty for violence. This is where historical examples become especially important, and where warrant comparison becomes paramount.
I think permutations in the 2ar that attempt to prove the alt is not functionally competitive are not nearly as persuasive as arguments in the 2ar that the aff is in the direction of the alt. A heg aff probably cannot go for a perm against anti-blackness, but an aff that is a step towards the same telos of the alt can.
Affs will usually win that they can weigh their aff, but I am typically not persuaded by framework arguments that attempt to tell me not to evaluate the k. I think the same is also true for the negative. Instead, I think the framework portion of the debate should tell me what my ballot does and how I should frame my decision given the context of the round.
'clash of civilization' debates
I've been seeing a lot of these debates recently, so I figured it was worth adding a section with a bit more tailored to these debates.
In these debates, warrant comparison is paramount. Rebuttals that are just extending state good/bad or reformism good/bad arguments without doing any interaction with the flow is a common mistake I see in these debates. Ideally, your arguments for this level of debate also have terminalized and developed impacts as well. The best debaters in these debates typically are those who use their evidence/examples to implicate the specific warrants the other team is extending.
Links should be explained as disadvantages to the permutation with impacts developed and extended for them. I need the 2nr to be doing more work on the permutation than just extending the link level; this isn't to say you cannot or should not extend them as disads to the perm (I think you probably should), but simply saying the phrase isn't enough to prove mutual exclusivity. I appreciate a really well developed and implicated link wall.
I would much rather not have my ballot decided by the framework level debate. Engaging the substance is very much so appreciated in these debates. Obviously this doesn't influence any debates I watch, but I tend to believe that the aff should get access to their 1ac and the neg gets to weigh their impacts against it; fiat is illusory isn't reason enough for me to moot the 1ac, and just because it's a K doesn't mean your 1ac was necessarily mooted. but again, grain of salt, do you.
A lot of these rounds are decided on which team wins their theory of power or governance, and rebuttalists that are using historical and contextual examples are typically those who win these debates. The more specific the examples throughout the debate, the better spot you will probably be in to get my ballot.
Instead of telling me what your alt does, tell me how I can do your alt. I love references to other movements, specific actions I can take, and what the telos or the vision of your alternative is; I do not like you telling me in the abstract what the alterative means. Don't try to explain the words of the alt to me, tell me what the alt means with specific warrants for how the alt can resolve the links and/or the aff.
The 2ar needs to be finding ways to extend and terminalize offense that exists outside solving the aff. If your offense on the K only relies on your ability to solve your aff in the 2ar, it tends to not bode well for the aff. Reformism/state good offense that isn't just 'we solve the aff, the aff is a good idea', or terminalized impact turns or disadvantages to the alternatives can be really useful in close 'clash' debates.
If the 2ar is going for a permutation, I must know what the world of the permutation looks like with some explanation of the solvency mechanism for the perm and why the alt is not mutually exclusive.
Competing interpretations just tells me to evaluate offense vs defense, which is what I am most likely going to do. I think reasonability tells me that even if they win the their impact claims (the standards), they haven’t won the link debate (the interp debate) because we meet/are close enough to the interp. Because I view T debates this way, I like clear and developed standard debates that clear isolate impact claims.
Case lists, TVAs, examples of affs that would violate, etc. are all useful because they help me situate your interp within the topic. These are all terminal defense, so you won’t necessarily win a debate with them alone, but they are persuasive.
Interp comparison is really useful as well. Debating the quality of interps is a lost art and can generate offense in the standard level as well.
I don’t think that the aff has to win a specific counter interp in K aff v FW debates, but rather a counter model for debate. I like these debates that break down the skills gandered from each model of debate, and use them to generate offense. Arguments like fairness claims, or claims that framework is inherently violent aren’t persuasive to me. Standards about portable skills, research, advocacy, etc. that tell me the tangible benefits of your model serve best on either side because I think helps frame what sort of method my ballot is endorsing.
Debated for 4 years at Dallas Jesuit.
Being smart x--------- Being unsmart
Longer Evidence with warrants ---x---------- More Evidence without warrants
Tech --x------- Truth
Line-by-line -x--------- Overviews
Specificity ---x-------- Generics
Read Cards -x----------- Don't Read Cards
Condo can be good or bad
0% Risk is possible
I'm okay with "inserting stuff into the debate" only if it wouldn't make sense to read it (i.e. they forgot to highlight the word "not" in a card.) If you logically could read it, do so.
Being unclear makes me sad.
Long overviews make me sad.
ASPEC makes me sad.
I dislike 1NCs with a lot of filler/throwaway arguments. In most situations, if your off case are reaching into the double digits, I would suggest cutting back.
Go slower than you would in-person.
I would prefer it if you keep your camera on.
Clash and argument resolution are paramount. I'm impressed by topic knowledge, an organized flow, and smart CX questions. I'm not impressed by dumb tricks, speaking really fast, or backfile recycling.
I start most debates with the idea that T is a question of competing interpretations.
Rather than debates about ground, I want T to be argued in terms of the predictability of the research burden/limit set by a definition.
Having a caselist is good.
Disads are good.
All disads are not created equally, and 2AC time allocation should reflect that.
Internal links are the weakest point of most disads.
They are also good.
I won’t judge kick for you. I am open to being instructed to.
For theory, I lean aff on consult, conditions, delay, international fiat, and anything else that competes off immediacy/certainty. I lean neg on PICs and multi-plank cps that aren't super egregious. Ambivalent on agent cps.
For competition, if the counterplan could theoretically fiat a possible manifestation of the plan, it's probably questionably competitive to me.
Affs should make smart permutations. Limited intrinsicness is an underemployed tool.
I don't have a great grasp of critical theory beyond a debate context.
Not a fan of death good Ks, or anything that establishes “suicide” as its method.
Specificity is key, historical examples are good. K debating includes case debating (which doesn't necessarily have to happen on the case flow), and does not include lengthy overviews, or skipping around on the line-by-line. Some part of the speech should call up reference to 1AC/2AC evidence to bolster the link.
Winning a theory of power without applying it to the aff is meaningless in my perspective. Contextualize links. Discuss external impacts to individual links, and how they access/turn aff offense in some way.
Aff K strategy is sometimes frustrating. Aff teams forget to talk about their aff when they debate a K. Don’t do that. Leverage offense. Discuss alt solvency. Include net benefits to the permutation.
FW debates on Ks have little to no impact on my decisions. The aff gets the aff, the neg gets the K, links don't have to be just to the plan. Anything beyond that I probably won't vote on.
In these debates I am looking for instruction about what is important + how to resolve pieces of offense.
I think critical affirmatives have immense strategic value. That being said, I am more of a fan of ones that are in the direction of/relate to in some way to the resolution, rather than ones that are just a an argument that is normally read on the negative or "a theory of power" with maybe 1.5 cards and a couple tags that reference the topic.
Usually, when affs in this genre lose, it is because they do not explain what voting for them means/looks like. Slow down on overviews and explain an impact. Affirmative teams in this genre too often rely on enthymemes.
Regarding topicality/framework. Impacts based on debate's form (fairness, clash) are better than impacts based on debate's content (topic education/legal engagement). For the affirmative, offensive arguments against negative standards should be coupled with an alternative vision of how debate should operate.
K v K rounds are probably what I have the least familiarity with. I have basic understanding of Historical Materialism. That's about it.
Sometimes impact turn debates can be very enjoyable, clash, evidence heavy debates. And sometimes they can be a horrible, morally questionable waste of 2 hours. Make the debate the former rather than the latter.
Probably not going to vote on C02 Ag, Spark, Wipeout.
There are 2 speakers on each team who have an equal amount of time to speak, and I will cast a ballot in favor of one winning team. Don't care about ins and outs, but there shouldn't be debates where students are “kicked out” or otherwise don’t participate in an entire debate. Intentionally interrupting an opponent’s speech, breaking time limits, playing board games, etc. is a loss for the team that initiates it.
Don't be a jerk and don't make my flow too messy.
Last Edited 2021
email - email@example.com
North Lamar HS ‘15-‘19
University of Central Oklahoma '23
2x NDT Qualifier
I coach some Texas high school policy
I think I’m a flex debater/judge, 99% of people will tell you I’m a K debater/judge; you should probably listen to those people.
Do what you want, have good cards. I appreciate debates and most enjoy judging debates that are meaningful to the debaters. I judge a lot of K debates. I consider myself well-read on the following areas of literature (in order of most read to least): Settler Colonialism, Imperialism, Antiblackness, Ableism, Queer Theory, Economic Theories (cap), Poststructuralism flavored things.
In K debates, I read every card mentioned in the 2nr/2ar. In policy debates, I read cards that debaters tell me to read. (i dont like reading more than 1 sentence about BMDs or whatever) Evidence is really important, good evidence wins rounds. I don’t like cards that are super long, (its ok im guilty of it too) if the card makes multiple arguments in separate sections of the article... then cut that article as multiple cards. I don’t want to read a card that takes you 4 minutes to read.
Do whatever you think you are best at and I will evaluate whatever you tell me to, however you tell me to. I 100% believe judges should adapt to debaters in order to make it more exploratory, creative, educational, and fun for competitors. I like K debates, but I find a solid throw-down on the deterrence disad or something pretty entertaining. I evaluate arguments tech>truth. However if you tell me not to, and win that I shouldn't, I won't.
I believe anything can be an argument unless its something racist, colonial, transphobic, sexist, etc. I reserve the right to make those determinations absent someone on the other team convincing me of it. I think voting teams down for being psychologically violent is good - so if you're reading this worried about your arguments perception, you should err on the side of caution. If it meets the standard to be voted down, which is a low standard in cases of racism etc., you'll also get the minimum number of speaker points possible.
I dont think debate is a game. I think debate is a site where people come together to discuss strategies to solve something, and the judge endorses the team who comes up with the better strategy to solve the biggest something. I dont think strategies have to be exportable outside of debate if you win that its best if the strategy occurs within debate. This makes it seem like I always vote for the K, that's not true. This is my frame for how I view debate - I think a team can win the States CP is the best strategy for solving something, just as much as I think a team can win psychoanalysis is the best strategy for solving something. Win that the thing you solve outweighs the thing they solve.
I like to judge T debates against policy affs a lot more than I do against K affs. I'm not saying don't run T-USFG on the K aff, but please do it correctly. This means prove their model of debate produces poor scholarship/debate. Prove your model can solve a substantial amount of the aff. I like education impacts more than fairness claims, this is because I think fairness is an internal link, not an impact. What I'm saying is make sure you terminalize the impact on this flow.
I think a CP is almost a necessity for most policy 1nc's - they're very strategic. I'll evaluate CP's based on if they solve the aff and if the net benefit outweighs disads to the CP. I don't like theory but I think it's a good strategy against an abusive CP, so I encourage theory in the 2ac against most CP's.
I evaluate disads in what I would like to think is a pretty normal way. Win the parts of the disad and win it outweighs the aff.
K debates - FW is important so that I have something to filter all the tech arguments through. Other than that, I think neg teams need to win a sufficient link and impact on the K to garner offense with it. I think the alternative is good to have for weighing it vs. the aff, but it isn't a necessity (if you kick the alt make sure the K turns the case). I think to answer the K, an aff team should attack the link/perm debate the most. I also think if an aff team proves the alt can't solve the aff, and that the aff outweighs the K, then I'd vote for the aff on the K.
I don't really like theory debates much. I'll vote for them if you win them but I think theory debates are usually regressive. I hate when teams go for condo unless the other team just massively undercovers it.
Speaks! I adjust my speaks based on the quality of the competition pool. If the teams in competition aren't national tournament level, they won't get national tournament speaking expectations. For example, a 28.6 at Greenhill is going to get you like a 29.5 at the North Lamar tournament. The higher quality tournament, the tougher I am. I tend to give average speaks of about 28.7 I'd say, so I guess I start there and move up or down throughout the debate. I think that giving speaker points based on how well you speak is ableist, so I only give them based on how well you debated. I do give bonus points for funny jokes etc. +.5 if you send the docs before the cx period prior to your speech ends!
I reserve the right to vote a team down if they engage in insensitive/unethical debate. No excuses for things such as racial or gender discrimination. Debate should be a safe space and I think it is a judges responsibility to hold debaters accountable for that.
My name's Emily Jackson but I'd prefer you just called me Emily. I graduated from Plano Senior High School in 2016. I did two years of LD there, PF at Clark High School (Plano) before that, and NFA-LD and parli for the University of North Texas after.
Short, reading on your phone as you're walking to the room version: Speed is fine, my limit is your opponent. Read whatever arguments you're good at, don't pull out something you don't like running just for me. I like well warranted frameworks, engagement on the framing level, and clear voting issues. I dislike rounds that collapse down to theory/T, but I'm more likely to just be annoyed with those than I am to dock anyone points for it unless you do it badly. Don't run racism/sexism/homophobia/etc good. If you have doubts, don't do it. If you have any specific questions, check below or just ask me before the round.
Fileshare and Speechdrop (speechdrop.net) are my preferred evidence sharing platforms. For evidence sharing and any out of round questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
General: Too many debaters under-organize. Number responses to things, be clear where you are on the flow, refer to cards by name where you can. For some reason people keep not signposting which sheet they're on, so I'd really really like if you took the extra second to do that. This makes me more likely to put arguments where you want them, and generally makes it much easier for me to make a decision.
Speed: I like speed, but there are many valid reasons that your opponent might object and I would prefer that you check with them first. Slow down on tags, cites, plan/counterplan texts, interpretations on T/theory, values/criterions, and generally anything you want to make sure I have down. If your opponent asks you not to go fast, don't. I will say "clear" if you're not understandable (but this is normally a clarity issue rather than a speed one.) Make sure you're loud enough when you're going quickly (not sure why some people seem to get quieter the faster they get)
Evidence: Know the evidence rules for whatever tournament you're participating in. Normally this is the NSDA. I take evidence violations seriously, but I don't like acting on them, so just follow them and we'll be fine. If you're sharing speeches (flashing, speechdrop, email chains,) I'd like to be a part of it. It's not that I don't trust you, but I know that debaters have a tendency to blow cards out of proportion/extend warrants that don't exist/powertag, so I'd like to be able to see the cards in round if your opponent can.
Speaks: Generally I give speaks based on strategy and organization, relative to where I feel you probably stand in the tournament. This generally means that I tend to give higher speaks on average at locals than larger tournaments. Low speaks likely mean that you were hard to flow due to organizational issues or you made bad decisions.
Framework: High-school me would best be categorized as a phil debater, so it's safe to say that I love a meaty framework. It's probably my favorite thing about LD. I can follow complex philosophical arguments well, but it's probably best to assume that I don't know the lit for everyone's benefit. Frameworks that stray from the util/generic structural violence FW norms of LD are my favorite, but make sure you actually know how it works before you do that. I've also come to like well-run deontological frameworks, but I tend to not see those as often as I like. I generally see who won the framing debate and then make the decision under that framework, but I can be convinced otherwise. Non-traditional structures are fine. As a side note, this applies to role of the ballot args as well, and I'm not going to accept a lower standard just because you call it a role of the ballot instead of a standard or a criterion. The manifestation is often different, but we still need justifications folks. Framework is not a voter.
I have a low threshold for answers on TJFs- I generally don't like them and I think they're a bit of a cop-out.
Ks: I like Ks when they're done well, but badly done Ks make me sad. Make sure you do the necessary work on the link and alt level. I want to know exactly what the link is and how it applies to the aff (where applicable) and I want to know exactly what the alt does and what it looks like. Like on framework, don't assume I know the lit. I might know it, I might have run it, but I still want you to explain the theory anyway in a way that someone who is less acquainted can understand. When done well, K debates are one of my favorite kind of debates.
Theory/T: Not a fan, but mostly because the format of LD normally necessitates a collapse to theory if you engage in it. I'm sympathetic to aff RVIs, and I default to reasonability simply because I don't like debates that collapse to this and would like to discourage it. Keep a good line-by-line and you should be fine.
Plans/Counterplans: Go for it. Make sure counterplans are competitive. Perms are a test of competition. I don't really have much to say here.
Some general theory thoughts: Doesn't mean that I'm not willing to listen alternative arguments, but here's where my sympathies lie.
Fairness is an internal link to education
AFC and TJFs are silly and mostly a way to deflect engaging in phil debate
Disclosure is good
1 condo advocacy fine
Nebel T is also silly
Ks: I think winning framing arguments are critical here, as they tend to determine how impacts should be weighed for the rest of the round. That being said, most rounds I've judged tend to be more vague about what exactly the alternative is than what I'd like. Clear K teams tend to be the best ones, imo. Kritical affs are fine provided they win a framework question. Do not assume that I know your literature.
T/Theory: Mostly included this section to note that my paradigm differs most strongly from LD here- I don't have a problem with procedurals being run and I can follow the debate well. I have never granted an RVI in policy and I don't see myself doing it any time in the near future- I default to competing interps without any argument otherwise.
Misc: If I don't say something here, ask me- I've never quite known what to put in this section. Open CX is fine but if one partner dominates all of the CXs speaks will reflect that. Flex prep is also fine, verbal prompting is acceptable but shouldn't be overused. I have a ridiculously low threshold on answers against white people reading Wilderson.
Misc, or, the "Why Did I Have To Put That In My Paradigm" Section:
- No, seriously, I will vote on evidence violations if I need to. They're not that hard to follow, so just like, do that.
- "Don't be offensive" also means "don't defend eugenics"
I competed for Plano Senior High School in Plano, TX in the TFA and National Circuit coached by Adam Tomasi, Alex Yoakum, and school debate coach Neal White. Currently, I debate for Indiana University in policy and qualified for NDT 2021.
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CONFLICTS: Plano Senior(TX), Clark High School(TX), Stanford Online MB, Saratoga AG
TLDR: I am fine with you reading anything if it is not offensive.
NOTE FOR ONLINE: Record your speeches. If anyone's internet goes out you should immediately send the recording to everyone in the round. If you don't have a recording, you only get what I flowed.
Some Generic Stuff
1)I care a lot about evidence. I will read through most, if not all, of the cards at the end of the debate. I won't insert arguments into the debate based on what the evidence implies, but I can't vote for you if your explanation of the evidence is based on some misreading. I do this to encourage you to know your cards well and utilize them the best you can. Unpack your warrants and be comparative; use lines of your own and your opponents' evidence to flag important arguments that matter to my decision.
2)I can handle speed so feel free to go as fast as you want, BUT if you are hitting a novice or anyone who has a disability of which they can speak at a faster rate.
3)I don't have a preference for how you debate or which arguments you choose to read. Be clear, both in delivery and argument function/interaction, and WEIGH and DEVELOP a ballot story.
4) Use all of your speech and cross-ex time. I will dock speaker points if you use cross-ex for prep, or if you end a speech early. I think that there's always more you can ask or say about an argument, even if you're decisively ahead.
5) Don't cheat - miscutting, clipping, strawmanning etc. It's an auto-loss with 0 speaks if I catch you. Ev ethics claims aren't theory arguments - if you make an ev ethics challenge, you stake the round on it and the loser of the challenge gets an L-0. (this only applies if you directly accuse your opponent of cheating though - if you read brackets with an ev ethics standard that's different).
6)I will assume zero prior knowledge when going into a round on any subject, which means it's on you to make me understand your warrant purely from the speech itself. For example, even if I know what the warrant for something like gratuitous violence if I don't think your explanation completes a logical warrant chain on why gratuitous is an accurate description of relationships, I won't vote for you.
8)Prep stops when speech doc is sent.
9)Please have pre-flows ready when you get in the round so we can start immediately.
10)If you are hitting a novice, please don't do something like reading 5 off and making the round less of a learning experience and more of a public beat down. It just isn't necessary. I will give you higher speaks if you make the round somewhat more accessible (ie going slower, reading positions that they can attempt to engage in, etc).
11)The quickest way to LOSE my ballot is to say something offensive (racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc.)
Theory: I will default to “competing interpretations” unless told otherwise. I will not make any presumptions on the voter level of the debate. This includes the voter (fairness/education/etc.) and the implication (drop debater/argument). Failure to present arguments in favor of a voter and its implication is to present an unwarranted argument. Instead of doing the work for you, I will not evaluate the argument, and I will default to truth testing. This also means you should be extending your voter and its implication properly and in every speech. I am fine with frivolous theory if executed properly.
Update: I believe that RVI is very illogical and non-sensical, thus I will not vote on RVIs.
Kritiks: I like good K debate a lot. Your impacts must link into a framework. They could link into a normatively justified framework, or they could link into a pre-fiat role of the ballot. An NR containing a well explained, and well impacted K that doesn't forget about the case is a good thing. An NR containing a K you've never read the lit for is very frustrating. Ask yourself if you can explain your position without the use of buzzwords, if the answer is no, you risk being in the latter category. Take time to clearly explain and implicate the links/impacts/framing arguments and contextualize them to the aff.
Philosophy/FW: I really like a good framework debate. Please make all framework arguments comparative. I will default to truth testing unless told otherwise.
LARP/Policy Positions:I love judging good policy rounds. Copied from Yoakum's paradigm: "Unsure why I have to say this but DA are not an advocacy and if I hear the phrase "perm the DA" you immediately drop down to a 28. If you extend "perm the da" then you will drop to a 27." If you read a plan please read specific evidence instead of general util offense for the topic. I am kind of ambivalent towards the whole "are perms advocacies or tests of competition" debate. Regardless, you must articulate either why a perm is net beneficial or how the CP is not mutually exclusive from the aff (or, ideally, both). I WILL NOT VOTE ON A PERM THAT IS NOT EXPLAINED OR DOES NOT DELINEATE HOW THE PLAN AND CP ADVOCACIES ARE COMBINED. If you read a billion perms and its like: 1. perm do both 2. perm do the aff then the CP 3. here is an intrinsic perm, then I probs won't vote on any of them unless you EXPLAIN. For god sakes please weigh!!!
Tricks (Stole from Yoakum's paradigm): Alright, so you roll up into the room and you got this really tricked out case with 100 different a prioris, so many theory spikes that they are literally jumping off the page to fight for fairness, and the classic incontestable descriptive offense, and you are ready to win. I just have a couple of requests:
1. I want the spikes clearly delineated. None of that hidden theory spikes between substantive offense bs. I won't catch it, your opponent won't catch it, so it probably doesn't exist (like absolute moral truths).
2. Slow down a little for theory spikes.
3. If you extend an a priori, lean more towards the side of over explanation rather than under explanation. I have a high standard for extensions, so I need to understand a) why the a priori means you affirm/negate b)the claim, warrant, impact of the arg
4.Do not make tricks is the only thing you do, your speaks will suffer heavily.
K Affs:I don’t care whether you read a plan or not, but affs should have a specific tie to the resolution and be a departure from the status quo that is external from the reading of the 1AC. Impact turning framework is more strategic than counter-defining words or reading clever counter-interps, but you should have a clear model of debate and what the role of the negative is.
Framework:Affirmatives should have some relationship to the topic, even if not traditional endorsement or hypothetical implementation of a policy. At the bare minimum, affirmatives should "affirm" something. I am much less sympathetic to affirmatives that are purely negative arguments or diagnoses.Teams should have a robust defense of what their model of debate/argument looks like and what specific benefits it would produce.Teams tend to do better in front of me if they control the framing of what I should do with my ballot or what my ballot is capable of solving. Whether it signals endorsement of a particular advocacy, acts as a disincentive in a games-playing paradigm, or whatever else, my conclusion on what the ballot does often filters how I view every other argument. Teams tend to do better with me the more honest they are about what a given debate or ballot can accomplish."TVAs" can be helpful, but need to be specific. I expect the block to actually provide an example plan text. Solvency evidence is ideal, but warranted explanation for how the plan text connects to the aff's broader advocacy/impact framing can be sufficient. If the 2NR is going to sit on a TVA, be explicit about what offense you think the TVA accesses or resolves.
Policy v K: Don't lose the specificity of the aff in favor of generic K answers. Reading long framing contentions that fail to make it past the 1AC and 2ACs that include every generic K answer won't get you as far as taking the time to engage the K and being intentional about your evidence. You should clearly articulate an external impact and the framing for the round. I'm more likely to buy framework arguments about how advocating for a policy action is good politically and pedagogically than fairness arguments.
K v Policy:Ask yourself if you can explain your position without the use of buzzwords, if the answer is no, you risk being in the latter category. Take time to clearly explain and implicate the links/impacts/framing arguments and contextualize them to the aff. Make sure to tell me why the impacts of the K come first and weigh the impacts of the K against that of the alt. Absent serious investment in the framework portion of the debate/massive concessions, the aff will most likely get to weigh the aff's impacts against the K so impact comparison and framing is vital. Framework arguments should not only establish why the aff's framework is bad, but also establish what your framework is so that my ballot is more aligned more closely with your framework by the end of the debate. K's don't have to have an alt and you can kick out of the alt and go for the links as case turns.
K v K: Affs should have an advocacy statement and defend a departure from the status quo. Affs don't have to have a clear method coming out of the 1AC, although I am more likely to vote neg on presumption absent a method. I have a higher threshold for perms in debates where the aff doesn't defend a plan, but just saying "K affs don't get perms" isn't sufficient for me to deny the perm.
Policy v Policy: Nothing much to say here, but please weigh!!
T: I enjoy a good T debate and think T is very underutilized against policy affs. Make sure you are substantively engaging with the interpretation and standards and aren’t just blitzing through your blocks. I default to competing interpretations unless told otherwise.
CP:Explanation is crucial. I need to be able to understand how the CP operates. 2NCs/2NRs should start off with a quick overview of what the CP does. Blazing through this at top speed will not contribute to my understanding. Fine with you reading PICS
DA:Framing is everything: impact calculus, link driving uniqueness or vice-versa, the works. Smart arguments and coherent narratives trump a slew of evidence.
Theory: I love theory debate if executed properly. I will default to “competing interpretations” unless told otherwise.
I prefer line-by-line debate to big picture in summary, rebuttal, and final focus.I am fine with Policy/LD arguments in PF.
1) The only thing that needs to be in summary and final focus beside offense is terminal defense. Mitigatory defense and non-uniques are sticky because they matter a lot less and 2 minutes is way too short for a summary. BUT, if you do not extend terminal defense, it doesn't just go away; it just becomes mitigatory rather than terminal ie I will still evaluate risk of offense claims.
2)First summary only needs to extend the defense with which 2nd rebuttal interacts. Turns and case offense need to be explicitly extended by author/source name. Extend both the link and the impact of the arguments you go for in every speech (and uniqueness if there is any).
3)2nd Rebuttal should frontline all turns. Any turn not frontlined in 2nd rebuttal is conceded and has 100% strength of link -- dont try to respond in a later speech.
4)Every argument must have a warrant -- I have a very low threshold to frontlining blip storm rebuttals.
5) If you want me to evaluate an arg, it must be in BOTH summary and Final Focus.
6)I'm fine with progressive PF- I don't have a problem w plans or CPs. PFers have a hard time understanding how to make a CP competitive- please make perms if they aren't. Theory, Kritiks, and DAs are fine too. If you wanna see how I evaluate these, see my LD paradigm above.
7)You get a 1:15 grace period to find your PDF, and for every thirty seconds you go over, you will lose .5 speaker points. If you go over two minutes and thirty seconds, the PDF will be dropped from the round.
8)Please have a cut version of your cards; I will be annoyed if they are paraphrased with no cut version available because this is how teams so often get away with the misrepresentation of evidence which skews the round.
9)If you clear your opponent when I don't think it's necessary, I'll deduct 0.2 speaks each time it happens. Especially if there's a speech doc, you don't need to slow down unless I'm the one clearing you.
10)Because evidence ethics have become super iffy in PF, I will give you a full extra speaker point if you have disclosed all tags, cites, and text 15 mins before the round on the NDCA PF Wiki under your proper team, name, and side and show it to me. I would love for an email chain to start during the round with all cards on it.
I evaluate speaker points purely based on strategy and whether or not you actually listened and slowed down when I yelled clear.
Speaker points will be arbitrary, but I will try to be as consistent as I can be.
Affiliation: 4 years at Jesuit Dallas, currently at Trinity University
Top Level Stuffs
- Water Topic – I did a little research on WOTUS over the summer. That’s about all I know so please explain stuff.
- My camera will be on the entire debate, if it’s not, then I’m not ready.
- Flowing, line by line, and organization are all really important. I would prefer that you number arguments (at least case args in the 1NC and off case args in the 2AC). Do line by line or get a 27
- Prep stops when the email is sent
- Slow Down. I flow on paper, I won't follow along with your doc, and it's zoom. At the very least, I request you start at like 70% of top speed so I can get used to your voice.
- The debate is up to the debaters. Judge adaptation should influence how you go for an argument not if you go for an argument.
- Respect your opponents. This means two things: 1) be nice to each other; and 2) send the same doc you read for a speech to your opponent. It is quite disparaging to see debaters delete analytics in an online format where connectivity issues may prevent others from hearing everything you say. It’s also kind of sad if you think that sending analytics might make or break the debate for you. This won’t reflect my evaluation of the debate, just my perception of your in round presence (speaks).
- Evidence quality > quantity. Part of this includes highlighting full sentences/making your cards comprehensible. If I look at cards, I only look at the highlighting you read.
- Inserting Evidence: If it’s part of the text that the other team put into the debate. If the highlighting is from a different part of the article, you must read it out loud. If you find this confusing, your presumption should be to read the card.
- It's underutilized - specific internal link and solvency arguments go a long way in front of me. Strategically, a good case press in the block and 2nr makes all substantive arguments better
- The aff should use the case more. 1AC ev usually has a lot of answers to neg args that people just forget about.
- I evaluate Topicality like a CP and DA. You must do impact calc and have offense and defense to the other team’s stuff.
- I care about predictable limits, topic education, precision, ground more than I care about jurisdiction, grammar
- T substantial is more persuasive to me than most
- I will vote on defense against a DA
- ev comparison or judge instruction about micro moments in the debate goes a long way for winning individual parts of a DA.
- CP should have a solvency advocate - what that constitutes one is debatable.
- I think the Net benefit should be a DA to the plan and not just an advantage to the CP
- CP that compete off certainty and immediacy with artificial net benefits are a hard sell. However, I understand these strats often become necessary for the neg. If you're going for one of these CPs, prioritize winning the competition debate and give me a lot of judge instruction on how to evaluate different definitions or competition standards.
- 2NC CPs are legit
- I don't judge kick unless instructed in the 2nr.
- I don't think I lean heavily aff or neg. I’d feel uncomfortable voting for one side based on ideology if the other side was technically ahead.
Conditionality is probably more good than bad, but I’m not sure. If you’re aff and crushing the conditionality is evil debate, just go for it. Quantitative interps don’t make sense to me
- Slow down!!! I need pen time.
- I won’t vote on new affs bad
- My default is to reject the argument for all things except conditionality. This shouldn't deter you from going for theory given rejecting a CP usually means the neg has no defense left in a debate.
- Good K debating is good case debating. A good critique would explain why a core component of the 1ac/plan is wrong. That is a much stronger way to minimize aff offense than some K trick like FW or a PIK argument.
- The link is the most important part of the debate. Be specific, pull 1AC lines, give examples, etc.
- My background knowledge of critical arguments should mean nothing to you. Explain. Explain. Explain.
- If you are going for framework, make sure it has a purpose and that you are communicating that purpose to me.
- Winning some theory of how the world operates doesn't mean anything unless you apply it to the aff. I don't care if somethings ontological if you don't have a link to the aff.
- Go for it. They should have some connection to the topic and some statement of advocacy. If you can read your aff on every topic without changing cards or tags, I’ll enjoy the debate less.
- Like T, impact calc is extremely important. These debates come down to who has the better vision of debate/the topic. Describe in detail what those visions look like and how a debate would go down or how the season goes down.
- While I will vote on procedural fairness, I prefer arguments about substantive engagement and clash. I think clash based impacts still have the benefit of focusing on the competitiveness of the activity, but also have better inroads to educations claims the aff usually makes. If you do say procedural fairness, you should only say procedural fairness.
- A topical version of the aff isn’t a CP, but a way for the neg to explain why their model of debate is better/compatible with the aff’s education claims. I think of them in terms of how debates would play out over a season, not in terms of fiat.
Please add me to the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a judge, I look to you to tell me the rules of the round. I try to be as fluid as possible when it comes to framework and argument. I only ask that you make sure you explain it and how it impacts the round.
I enjoy topical affirmatives and unique arguments from the negative that link to the affirmative case. If an argument applies to any topical affirmative, I tend to not vote for it (provided the affirmative shows that it is non-unique). Really good impact debate is my happy place.
In regards to speed, I would say I am comfortable with mid-high, however it would be smart to think slower on procedurals and tag lines. Go ahead and add me to the email/flash chain and then do what makes you happy.
My facial expressions are pretty readable. If you see me making a face, you may want to slow down and/or explain more thoroughly.
I don't count flashing as part of prep, but prep for flashing (organizing files, trying to find the right speech, deleting other files, etc) are. It shouldn't take more than about 30 seconds to flash. Going on 5 minutes is a bit excessive.
I am relatively new to critical debate. I am not opposed to it, but I am not well versed, so be sure to really explain any kritiks and how they impact the debate. One of my students called me a lazy progressive judge. That fits. I don't read the literature or envelope myself in the K. Do the work for me; I don't want to.
Counterplans, disadvantages and solvency/advantage debates are great.
I think topicality is necessary to debate, but tend to skew to the aff as long as they can show how they are reasonably topical.
All that being said, I will flow anything and vote on anything until a team proves it isn't worthy of a vote.
I have been near LD Debate for about 20 years, but have never been trained in it. So, I am knowledgeable about the event, but not about the content within it. You will probably need to explain more to me and why I should vote on a particular issue. As a policy debater, I tend toward evidence and argumentation. However, I will vote on what you tell me is important to vote on unless your opponent makes a more compelling argument for me to vote on something else.
Public Forum Debate Philosophy
My favorite part of public forum debate is the niceties that are expected here. I love to watch a debater give a killer speech and then turn to politeness in crossfire. Polite confidence is a major selling point for me. Not that I won't vote for you if you aren't polite, but I might look harder for a winning argument for your opponent. In PF, I look more for communication of ideas over quantity of argumentation. I don't coach public forum, so I am not well versed in the content. Make sure you explain and don't just assume I know the inner workings of the topic.
- Director @ Coppell
- Assistant Director @ Mean Green Comet
- Debated NDT/CEDA at North Texas
- Please add me to the email chain and/or doc: sykes.tx @ gmail.com
- This document offers insight to the process I use to make decisions unless directed to do otherwise.
- Clarity is important. I'm also working to adjust my speaker points to keep up with inflation.
- I won't claim to be perfect in this area, but I believe debate has strong potential to build community. Please play nicely with others.
- I view all debate as comparison of competing frameworks. I was a flex debater, typically went for more critical (K) arguments, and am happy to evaluate policy arguments.
- I will attempt to minimize intervention in the evaluation of a) the selection of framework and b) the fulfillment of the framework's demands.
- I believe the topic should provide debatable ground, but I don't think that's exclusive of other arguments and approaches.
- Consistent with my view of competing frameworks, there is no difference in my mind between "competing interpretations" and "abuse." Abuse is a standard for evaluating competing interpretations.
- If the framework for evaluating the debate involves a disad, be aware that I generally determine the direction of uniqueness before the link, but these arguments together speak to the propensity for risk.
- If forced by lack of comparison to use my own framework I will consider time frame, probability, and magnitude of your impacts as part of cost benefit analysis of endorsing the affirmative advocacy.
- I don't believe I have strong predispositions related to counterplan types or theory. Be creative.
- The division in the community between "kritik people" and "policy people" frustrates me. We should constantly seek more effective arguments. Questions of an academic nature vary from method to application.
- A working definition of "fiat" is "the ability to imagine, for the purposes of debate, the closest possible world to that of the advocacy."
Rebuttals/How to win
- You should either win in your framework and show how it's preferable, or simply win in theirs. This applies to theory debates and impact comparison as much as anything else.
- I find that many debates I judge are heavily influenced by the quality, persuasiveness, and effectiveness of warranted explanation and comparison.
Lincoln Douglas, specifically
- While my background in policy debate leads me to a more progressive perspective toward LD, I have evaluated many traditional debates as well. You do you.
- I am open to theoretical standards in LD that are different than those in CX, but understand that my experience here affects my perception of some issues. For example, I may have a predisposition against RVIs because there are vastly different standards for these arguments across events. I'll do my best to adapt with an open mind.
Public Forum, specifically
- PF should transition to reasonable & common expectations for disclosure, evidence use, and speech doc exchange.
- Email chains and/or speech docs should be used to share evidence before speeches.
- Evidence should be presented in the form of direct quotes and accompanied by a complete citation. If you must paraphrase, direct quotations (fully cited with formatting that reflects paraphrased portions) should be included in the speech doc. If I feel you've abused this expectation (e.g., pasting and underlining an entire article/book/study), I won't be pleased.
- Time spent re-cutting evidence, tracking down URLs, or otherwise conforming to these conventions should be considered prep time.
- Regardless of the way the resolution is written, I tend to believe someone should advocate a mechanism to alter the status quo. Uniqueness and inevitability claims, therefore, would greatly benefit the analysis of risk provided in most of the PF rounds I evaluate.
Director of Debate – Greenhill School
Updated – April 2019
Please put me on the email chain – email@example.com
New for the TOC 2019 – I am the Director of the Global Debate Symposium and for this summer I have hired Spencer Paul and Vishan Chaudhary from Harvard Westlake, and Ishan Bhatt from St. Andrews of the list of competitors that will be in the 2019 TOC competing in Lincoln Douglas.
Lincoln - Douglas Philosophy
I have coached debate, and been a classroom teacher, for a long time. I feel that when done well, with agreed upon “rules of engagement”, there is not a better activity to provide a training ground for young people. That said, at some point, most of the adults have left the building as it relates to national circuit Lincoln Douglas debate. I find many of the things that are now commonplace, are antithetical to the things that I love about debate. In fact, many of these practices are not educational, but also make the activity unsustainable in any meaningful way to sell to administrators, parents, new coaches, or even a new generation of debaters.
I have taken some time to reflect on how I judge debates, and have revised my paradigm. It would behoove you to read it if I have the potential to judge you. If you do not like what you read, strike me.
Debate rounds, and subsequently debate tournaments, are extensions of the classroom. While we all learn from each other, my role is parallel to that of an instructor. I will evaluate your performance. At this stage in my career, I have no interest in being the “most preferred” judge in the pool. In fact, what I see is that many in the Lincoln Douglas community (as opposed to policy debate); make preferences more based on personal relationships, than the relative experience/paradigmatic perspective of the critic. I see my role as to set a fair, but stringent, set of expectations for the students I am judging. At times, this means advancing expectations that I feel are best for the students and, at times, the broader community as well. At this point, I am also not shy to share those thoughts and expectations. I see myself as a critic of argument if I had to pigeonhole myself with a paradigmatic label. Unlike many claim to be, I am not a blank slate. If I see behaviors or practices that create a bad, unfair, or hostile environment for the extension of the classroom that is the debate round, I will intervene. I WILL do my best to be an objective evaluator of your argument but the idea that my social location is not a relevant consideration of how I view/decode arguments is just not true (nor do I personally think it is true for anyone).
Below please find a few thoughts as to how I evaluate debates.
1. Speed is not a problem. In most of the Lincoln Douglas I judge, clarity IS a problem. I judge high level policy debates quite a bit and while they are quiet fast, I don’t see clarity as much of an issue with the top teams. Please understand that unstructured paragraphs that are slurred together does not allow the pen time necessary to write things down in the detail you think it might. I reserve the right to yell “clearer” once or twice. Style and substance are fundamentally inseparable.
2. I feel theory is debated far too much in Lincoln – Douglas, and is debated poorly. I am strongly opposed to that practice. My preference is NOT to hear a bad theory debate. I believe the negative does get some “flex”, that said it can’t be unlimited. The idea of reading a “counter shell” against a theory argument is one of the silliest practices I see in contemporary debate. Before the proliferation of theory in Lincoln Douglas I thought RVI’s were silly. They have a place in contemporary LD. I DO NOT think jettisoning the case and going all in on the RVI should be the A strategy in the 1ar. While I like competing interpretations, in the end, I feel even that view is filtered through my perspective of reason/what is reasonable/the best lens for debate. Some intervention is inevitable as we judge.
3. Evidence is important. In my opinion debates/comparisons about the qualifications of authors on competing issues (particularly empirical ones), in addition to a comparison of competing warrants in the evidence, is important. Do you this and not only will your points improve, I am likely to prefer your argument if the comparison is done well. All students should have full cites for materials.
4. I am not a “blank state”. I also feel my role as a judge is to serve a duel function of rendering a decision, in addition to serving a role as educator as well.
5. Words matter. Arguments that are racist, sexist, homophobic etc will not be tolerated.
6. I am not a fan of random; multiple sentence fragments that claim to “spike” out of all of the other teams arguments. At its foundation, debate should be about argument ENGAGEMENT, not evasion.
7. Answer questions in cross-examination. Cross-ex is binding. I do listen carefully to cross – ex.
8. Although I know you have figured it out, Lincoln Douglas does not have a 2AC in the same way that policy does. 1AR’s that advance lots of offense on many negative positions will be rewarded with high points.
9. Debating with a laptop is a choice, if you are reading from a computer I have three expectations that are nonnegotiable:
A) You must jump the documents read to the opposition in a timely manner (before your speech or at worse IMMEDIATELY after your speech) to allow them to prepare or set up an email chain.
B) If your opponent does not have a laptop you need to have a viewing computer OR surrender your computer to them to allow them to prepare. The oppositions need to prep outweighs your need to prep/preflow in that moment in time.
C) My expectation is that the documents that are shared are done in a format that is the same as read by the debater that initially read the material. In other words, I will not tolerate some of the shenanigan’s that seem to exist, including but not limited to, using a non standard word processing program, all caps, no formatting etc.
10. Many debaters have been instructed, or watched others run, “metaethics” with some success. My experience is that many debaters have a very superficial grasp of what this even means. Make sure to explain, and compare your position against the position of your opponent. A good rule of thumb is to assume you don’t win every argument and frame things in an even /if perspective.
11. I do not like skepticism as an argument. It would be in your best interest to not run it in front of me. While perhaps interesting in a philosophy class in college, training young advocates to feel that “morality doesn’t exist” etc. is educationally irresponsible.
12. I do not disclose speaker points. That seems silly to me.
13. Dropped arguments and the “auto-win” seems silly to me. Just because a debater drops a card doesn’t mean you win the debate. Weighing and embedded clash are a necessary component of debate. Good debaters extend their arguments. GREAT debaters do that in addition to explaining the nexus point of clash between their arguments and that of the opposition and WHY I should prefer their argument.
14. I feel it takes more than a sentence (or in many of the rounds I judge a sentence fragment), to make an argument. If the argument was not clear originally, I will allow the opponent to make new arguments.
15. Choose. No matter the speech or the argument.
Please ask me specific questions if you have one before the debate.
Fundamentally I see debate as a game. I think it is a valuable and potentially trans-formative game that can have real world implications, but a game none the less that requires me to choose a winner. Under that umbrella here are some specifics.
1. Comparative analysis is critical for me. You are responsible for it. I will refrain from reading every piece of evidence and reconstructing the round, but I will read relevant cards and expect the highlighting to construct actual sentences. Your words and spin matters, but this does not make your evidence immune to criticism.
2. The affirmative needs to engage the resolution.
3. Theory debates need to be clear. Might require you to down shift some on those flows. Any new, exciting theory args might need to be explained a bit for me. Impact your theory args.
4. I am not well versed in your lit. Just assume I am not a "____________" scholar. You don't need to treat me like a dullard, but you need to be prepared to explain your arg minus jargon. See comparative analysis requirement above.
Not answering questions in CX is not a sound strategy. I will give leeway to teams facing non responsive debaters.
Debaters should mention their opponents arguments in their speeches. Contextualize your arguments to your opponent. I am not persuaded by those reading a final rebuttal document that "answers everything" while not mentioning the aff / neg.
Civility and professionalism are expected and will be reciprocated.