49th Harvard National Forensics Tournament
2023 — Cambridge, MA/US
Policy Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I am a debate coach at Little Rock Central.
You do you. I want to see you at your best. I believe that my role is to listen, flow, and weigh the arguments offered in the round how I am told to weigh them by each team. I will listen to and evaluate any argument, and my goal is to not intervene. I can do that best when you: 1) explain why your impacts outweigh your opponents' impacts; 2) explain the risk of your impacts compared to your opponents' impacts; 3) do evidence comparison as necessary; and 4) do judge instruction. It is unacceptable to do anything ableist, anti-queer, racist, sexist, or violent.
Go for it.
I feel pretty middle of the road when it comes to thresholds.
Go for it.
I do not spend as much time with the lit base as other judges whom are probably in the judge pool. I'm really not trying to self-deprecate or signal something about kritikal lit, but also any time that I am using to write arguments or cut cards is to prepare for heg/policy debates. All to say, pref me if you wanna pref me, and please presume that I am not completely familiar with your literature/authors (unless they are common).
I will vote for any kritikal affirmative that wins its method and theory of power and wins the impacts/questions of risk. I will also vote for embedded critiques of debate.
I think it’s important for kritkal affirmatives (when asked) to be able to articulate how the negative side could engage with them as it comes up; explain the role of the negative in the debate as it comes up, and, if applicable, win the questions of fairness.
Question of fairness - up to you to tell me what kind of fairness I should prioritize and why your method does or does not access it/preserve it/improve it.
Quality over quantity; the more specific, the better
Other Specifics and Thresholds, Theory
• Perms: Explain how the perm works (more than "perm do X"). Why does the perm resolve the impacts? Why doesn't the perm link to a disad?
• T: Normal threshold if the topicality impacts are about the implications for future debates/in-round standards. High threshold for affs being too specific and being bad for debate because neg doesn't have case debate.
• Disclosure is generally good, and also it's ok to break a new aff.
• Limited conditionality feels right, but really I am most interested in how these theory arguments develop in round and who wins them based on the fairness/education debate and tech.
Chris McDonald (He/Him) - email@example.com
Use the above email for any email chains during the round.
Head Coach Eagan High School in Minnesota
While I mainly have coached and judged Policy Debate for the past 35 years I do judge my fair share of LD and Public Forum Debate Rounds.
Policy Debate - Please know that while I used to judge a lot of rounds throughout the season in policy debate it has been 5 years since I judged more than just a handful of policy rounds. I do work with my school's varsity policy team.
My philosophy has pretty much remained consistent throughout my career. I consider policy debate to be a test of policy based ideas between two teams. How those teams approach the topic and frame the debate is entirely up to them. Below are a few things to know about me on some specifics but please know my primary objective is for us to have an enjoyable round of debate.
Delivery Speed - Since it has been a few years for me since last judging lots of policy debate my ability to listen to really fast debate has faded. Please keep it to a slightly slower speed of delivery especially using the online platforms. I will let you know if you are unclear or going too fast by verbally indicating such during your speech. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being oratory speed and 10 being approaching the sound barrier (only joking here) I would place myself as a 7 these days.
Topicality - I enjoy a good topicality debate but have found that over the years teams are taking too many shortcuts with the initial development of the topicality violation. I prefer topicality to have a clear definition, a clearly developed violation, standards for evaluating the violation and reasons why it is a voting issue. For the affirmative side you really need to engage with the topicality violation and provide a counter interpretation that supports your interpretation of the resolution. Topicality is distinct from framework.
Framework - I also enjoy evaluating a debate when framework is clearly articulated and argued by both the affirmative and negative sides. Framework is focused around how you would like me to evaluate the arguments in the round. Do you prefer a consequentialist framework, a deontological framework, etc..
Critiques - I am fine with critical approaches by the negative and the affirmative sides. For the affirmative please keep in mind that you will need to defend your critical affirmative as either a topical representation of criminal justice reform or why it is important for us to debate your affirmative even if it isn't necessarily within the boundaries of the topic.
Flow - Please label all arguments and positions clearly throughout the debate. Signposting has become a lost art. Debaters doing an effective job of signposting and labeling will be rewarded with higher speaker points.
Disadvantages - Please be certain to articulate your links clearly and having clear internal links helps a great deal.
Counter plans - I think counter plans are an essential tool for negative teams. Please note that I am not a big fan of multiple conditional counter plans. Running a couple of well developed counter plans is better than running 4 or 5 underdeveloped counter plans. Counter plans should have a text to compete against the affirmative plan text.
Theory - General theory in debate rounds like conditionality and that are fine but have rarely been round winners without a lot of time devoted to why theory should be considered over substance.
If you have any questions please let me know and I will happily answer those questions.
1. I am not a fan of theory as it plays out in LD debate rounds. Most of the theory that is argued is pretty meaningless when it comes to the topics at hand. I will only consider topicality if the affirmative is presenting a plan text in the round. I ask that the debaters debate the topic as it is written and not as they would like it to be.
2. Beyond my dislike for theory you are free to pretty much debate the round as you see fit. Please keep your speed to a level where you are clear especially considering buffering time with online platforms you should probably slow down from what you think you are capable of during in-person debates.
3. Evidence should be shared using an email chain. Please include me at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. If you have specific questions please ask. I will disclose at the end of the round but I will also respect the tournaments schedule and work to keep it on time.
1. Evidence is very important to me. I prefer direct quotation of evidence over paraphrasing but understand that paraphrasing is allowed in PF. Please make note of the new NSDA rule regarding paraphrasing. Source Citations: make sure that you present enough of a source citation that I should have no problem locating the evidence you present in the round. This would include the author or periodical name and date at a minimum. So we are clear Harvard in 2014 is not a source citation. Harvard is a really great University but has, to my knowledge never written a word without the assistance of some human that attends or works at Harvard.
2. There is to be no game playing with regards to evidence sharing during or after the round. If you are asked for evidence by your opponents you must produce it in a timely manner or I will discount the evidence and only treat the argument as an unsubstantiated assertion on your part. Even if it means handing over one of your laptops you must provide evidence for inspection by the other team so that they may evaluate it and respond to the evidence in subsequent speeches.
3. Prep Time - you are only provided with 3 minutes of prep time. Please use it wisely. I will only give a little latitude with regards to untimed evidence sharing or organizing your flows, but please be efficient and quick about it.
4. Argument choices are completely up to the debaters. I prefer a good substantive debate with clear clash and that the debaters compare and weigh the arguments they feel are important for their side to prevail as the debate comes into focus but the substance of those arguments is completely within the control of the teams debating.
5. Please respect your opponents and treat everyone involved in the debate round with the utmost respect. Speaker points will be effected by any rude behavior on the part of a debater.
6. I will disclose and discuss my decision at the end of the round so long as there is time and the tournament stays on schedule.
7. Finally, please remember to have fun and enjoy the experience.
Updated Longhorn Classic '21
forever student at UT Austin
please put me on the email chain: email@example.com
I debated policy in high school all 4 years in Athens TX, and have been judging/coaching on the Austin circuit since 2013.
Also, if anything in this paradigm isn't clear enough, feel free to ask me before the round, I'd be more than happy to clarify.
I am tab but default to policymaker if not given a clear alternative evaluative framework.
The most important thing is that you give me the easiest path to the ballot. Tell me how to vote, on what, and why. Other than that, give me overviews, keep the debate organized, and please extend things correctly. Technical debating ability determines your speaker points in large part, unless there is reason to dock speaks for hate speech/immoral arguments.
I am generally more confident in my ability to evaluate policy v policy and policy v k debates, than k v k due to a literature knowledge deficiency, especially in high theory kritiks (read: Baudrillard, Heidegger, Deleuze/Guattari, etc.), so expect to explain the thesis of your critical position and how they interact with the topic thoroughly when reading those arguments.
Performance Affs are fine as long as you are very thorough in your explanation of what my role as a judge is and what the ballot does.
I will try to evaluate rounds to the best of my ability based on the information I am able to flow from your speech. That means despite what is in the speech doc, I will only be evaluating what you actually say in your analysis and a lot of close rounds are won or lost in the rebuttals over this issue. There should be clear extensions from the 2AC to the 1AR/Block to the 2NR and 2NRs/2ARs should be going for a specific strategy that is writing my ballot.
Tech over truth in most cases. If an argument is dropped, I still need a proper warrant extension and implication given for that drop to matter, unless given some other model of judging the round. I will rarely decide a round on a single drop and that argument must still be implicated in the broader aspects of the round.
I flow on paper despite the advances in technology since I first started debating. Speed is fine, but in a world of virtual debate please slow down. I expect any theory standards to be read at a pace that gives me adequate pen time, if not they should be in the speech doc.
I will always listen to CX - open CX is fine, but do not talk over each other. Flashing/Email doesn't count towards prep unless it is egregious.
Don't be offensive, rude, homophobic, racist, ableist, derogatory, sexist etc.
Always try to have fun - if you're not acting like you want to be there, it is a real drag to judge your round.
I default to debate is a game, and I think the k aff bad debate comes down to a question of fairness, whether used as an impact or an internal link by the neg. I am not usually persuaded by topic education vs critical lit education through an aff specific method since that doesn't interact with the fairness question a lot of the time, and the aff team usually has better evidence about the importance of their particular educational outlet anyway, especially given the fact that they know what it is and can adequately prepare for it. The most important way for the aff to get me to vote for a non-resolutional based affirmative is their ability to describe to me what the role of the negative would be under their model of debate. However, I grant K affs a lot of grace if there are clear resolution-based links that are able to answer ground loss claims.
My threshold for granting neg offense on clash is directly determined by how abstract/immaterial the aff explanations of the k method are.
TVAs are under-utilized in my opinion as ways to take out Aff standard offense. SSD is a must-have argument to even compete on the education debate.
I default to k affs getting perms but have a pretty high threshold for these arguments in context to the ground/clash debate, if brought up.
I default to competing interpretations, but can be persuaded otherwise in round. Bad/unpredictable T interps are worse for debate than predictable ones, so I expect neg teams to read interps that are actually making an argument about what the literature base should be for the topic. Barring the block dropping reasonability, I will most always focus on the standards when evaluating the T debate, so teams that do the work on explaining how limits are improved/destroyed by the other team, what case lists/neg generics look like, and which interp provides the most sustainable form of debate for the year are most likely to win.
I typically don't vote on RVI's here unless there is a multitude of T's that the aff meets on face, which puts the neg more in the realm of reading frivolous theory, not just T args.
I really enjoy policy aff vs k debates, however I have very limited knowledge of critical literature outside of Cap/Neoliberalism, Abolition, SetCol, Security, Biopower (Foucault/Agamben), and small amounts of Ahmed. As said above in general thoughts, if you are reading a kritik you feel I may be unfamiliar with, or are pulling multiple theories from critical bodies of literature, I fully expect you to clearly explain the thesis of the criticism and how your method is able to possibly resolve the links you present.
I am very tech based in my evaluative approach to kritiks and hold a high standard for both teams in order to win the sheet. I evaluate the K sheet first by framework then K proper, where the line-by-line is very important - reading massive overviews that don't specifically interact with 2ac arguments hurt your chances of winning those parts of the K if the aff does the work you don't do in the 1ar. I believe the aff should be able to be weighed against the kritik, it is up to the neg to win why that is not the case in this round with a clear counter-interp.
Links are important and must be contextualized to the affirmative, but it is also just as important to be able to explain how the alt method is able to resolve those links. I hold alt solvency to a high regard, you must be able to explain what the alt does to create change in the world after I vote neg. I have found that there is big trend recently by neg teams to ignore solvency deficits/turns because they aren't specific to the (usually obscure) alt method the neg is choosing to read this round - you still need to interact with those arguments and disprove their warrants!
I think perf con is voter as long as there is a clear link in contradiction of advocacies - I believe the neg is able to spin out of this, but depending on the positions read that might be hard at times.
Floating PIKs are bad, but if you get away with it, I will still vote on it.
I would love to hear a good DA+Case collapse in the 2nr. I believe the top level of the disad should be thoroughly fleshed out in the block and there be clear turns case analysis given that is contextualized to the aff scenarios/solvency. Generic link walls are fine as long as you are doing that contextualization as well. I don't think winning case outweighs is all the aff needs to do when turns case analysis is competing against it, but I do think it is underutilized in the 1ar when paired with other arguments on the disad proper.
I really enjoy politics disads when their scenarios lean closer to plausible rather than just fiat spin +"and x is at the top of the docket now". I think warrant interaction on the uniqueness/link uniqueness question is where this sheet is usually won on either side. Generic pc is fake and winners win args aren't too persuasive unless contextualized to the current political climate.
I really love good counterplan debate. Generic counterplans are necessary and good. I think specific counterplans are even better. Counterplans that read evidence from the 1AC or an aff author are even better than that! I think process cp's are legitimate but prefer neg teams to explain how the net benefit is still a disad to the aff. Plan plus multi-plank advantage cp's are my new most hated CP on this topic - do with that info what you will.
Neg teams need to be sure to have a clear story/explanation for how the aff/perm links to the net benefit and the CP alone avoids it. I do not think the answer to solvency deficits is to go for "lens of sufficiency" or fiat, you need to explain how those deficits still allow the cp to solve the aff/avoid the net benefits. Severance/Intrinsic perm debates seem to be less common these days, but I still think they are important tools against "creative" aff perms.
I am okay with aff teams making multiple perms but those perms need to be explained and how they work before the 2ar is going for them. In that same regard, solvency deficits/perm shields the link analysis and implications must not be made for the first time in the 2ar either. Aff should be leveraging their "creative" permutation with their cp theory if the cp is even close to abusive, but I really don't like when rounds come down to just a theory question.
Theory that is more specific to the argument it is read against will typically have a higher chance of being viewed as a voter. I typically lean neg in most cases, except for bad PICs or convoluted process cp's. I think theory should also be used as a justification for other arguments you make in the round based on substance, not just a reason to reject the team.
My threshold for condo is very easily shifted by circumstances, but I generally believe it is a good idea for the aff to read condo in the 2ac if the neg is reading 3 or more counter-advocacies, though the likelihood of me voting on it largely depends on the amount of in-round abuse/sand-bagging strategy the neg is choosing to do. Aff needs to have a clear interpretation, and I find "no difference between 2/3/4 off" not very convincing by the neg, especially if the aff gives any type of intelligent analysis on time tradeoffs.
I believe frivolous theory bad is a voter, especially on procedural questions that the aff/neg themselves violate, but you need to do the work of showing how in round abuse is occurring and how the theory is frivolous.
On judge kick - if the neg tells me to and it's unanswered or the neg is ahead on the question of whether I should, then I will. Neg teams, you should tell me to do this in the block if you want it to be considered for the same reason 2ar condo strats are bad, you wouldn't want the aff to win on 5 minutes of judge kick bad in 2ar and it gives the aff plenty of time to respond/not respond to it by the 2nr.
Virtual Debate Updates:
I am almost always using two computers so I can watch you speak and flow/look at docs. I would prefer that you debate with your camera on so that I can watch you speak, but PLEASE do feel free to turn it off if doing so stabilizes your audio.
Do NOT start at top speed. You should start a little slower anyway to allow judges to get acclimated to your speaking style, but I think this is especially important in virtual debate.
Do I understand why you don't want to flash theory/overviews/analytics? Of course. Do you have to do it? No. Will I be mad at you if you don't? Of course not. Would it help me flow better in many virtual debates? YES.
Do what you do and do it well. I will vote for who wins. Over-adaptation is exhausting and I can smell your soft-left add-ons a mile away. My voting record is a pretty clear indication that I judge a wide variety of debates. Who/what I coach(ed) are generally good indications of what I am about. Update: I've found myself recently in some seven off rounds. I really hate to say I am bad for any kind of debate, but I am bad for these rounds. Late-breaking debates make me tired and grumpy, and I find myself having to do way too much work in these debates to resolve them. If seven off is your thing, and I am your judge, do what you do I guess, but know this is probably the only explicit "don't pref me" in this whole paradigm.
I care a lot about quality of evidence. I would much rather hear you read a few well-warranted cards than a wave of under-highlighted evidence. Same goes for redundant evidence; if you need six cards that “prove” your claim with the same words interchanged in the tag, your claim is probably pretty weak. Evidence does not (alone) a (winning) argument make.
I think I flow pretty throughly. I often flow in direct quotes. I do this for me, but I feel like it helps teams understand my decision as we talk after a round. I reward organized speakers and meaningful overviews. I am easily frustrated by a messy card doc.
I listen closely to cross-ex.
Neg teams lose when they don’t demonstrate how their arguments interact with the 1AC. Winning that the affirmative is “flawed” or “problematic” does not guarantee a neg ballot. In my mind, there are two ways to win the k versus a policy aff: either win that the effects of the plan make the world significantly worse OR win framework and go for epistemology/ontology links. Know when framework is important and when it’s not. Give analysis as to how your links implicate the world of the aff. This is where case mitigation and offense on why voting affirmative is undesirable is helpful. These debates are significantly lacking in impact calculus. Also - the alt needs to solve the links, not the aff - but if it does, great! If you win framework, this burden is lessened. Don’t spread through link explanations. I am seeing more debates where teams kick the alt and go for the links as disads to the aff. This is fine, but be wary of this strategy when the alt is what provides uniqueness to the link debate.
Conversely, affs typically lose these debates when there is little press on what the alternative does and little analysis of perm functions. However, some teams focus on the alt too much and leave much to be desired on the link debate (especially important for soft-left affs). Defend your reps. Your framework shell should also include a robust defense of policymaking, not just procedural fairness. The 1AR should actually answer the block’s framework answers. More impact turning rather than defensive, no-link arguments.
Also, running to the middle will not save you. Some Ks are going to get a link no matter what, and tacking on a structural impact to your otherwise straight policy aff will likely only supercharge the link. So. Read the aff you'd read in front of anybody in front of me. You're probably better at that version anyway.
K Affs vs. FW
For affs: I’m good for these although I do think that oftentimes the method is very poorly explained. Neg teams should really press on this and even consider going for presumption. Side note: I absolutely do not think that critical affs should have to win that the ballot is key for their method. Against framework, I most frequently vote aff when the aff wins impact turns that outweigh the neg’s impacts and have a counter-interp that resolves the majority of their offense. I can still vote for you if you don’t have a counter-interp in the 2AR but only if the impact work is exceptional. I prefer affs that argue that the skills and methods produced under their model inculcate more ethical subjectivities than the negative’s. The best aff teams I’ve seen are good at contextualizing their arguments, framing, and justifying why their model and not their aff is uniquely good. I am most frequently preffed for K v K debates. Judge instruction is extremely important I would rather evaluate those rounds based on whose method is most relevant to the debate rather than k tricks.
For neg teams: I like to see framework deployed as debate methodologies that are normatively good versus debate methodologies that are undesirable and should be rejected. Framework debates should center on the impact of certain methodologies on the debate space. “Your argument doesn’t belong in debate” is not the same thing as “your argument is hindered by forum” or “your argument makes it functionally impossible to be negative.” (fun fact: I read a lot of judges' paradigms/preferences..."debate is a game" does not = debate is a good game, and participation in that "game" does not = can't say the game is bad). I prefer more deliberation & skills-based framework arguments rather than procedural fairness, but I will vote on either as long as you have warrants and comparative impact analysis. If going for skills & research impacts, the internal link debate is most important. TVAs are great as defense against the aff’s impact turns. They do not have to solve the aff but should address its central controversy.
I feel similarly about theory debates in that they should focus on good/undesirable pedagogical practices. Arguments that explain the role of the ballot should not be self-serving and completely inaccessible by a particular team.
Topicality is a voting issue and never a reverse voting issue. T debates are won and lost on the standards level. If the affirmative wins that their interpretation solves the impact of topicality, then I see no reason to vote negative. Thorough T debates are about more than fairness. The idea that you have no game on an aff in this era is just not as persuasive as the idea that the aff’s interpretation negatively impacts future debates.
No real issues here. Specific links to case obviously preferred to generic arguments. Give me good impact analysis. As a debater, counterplans weren’t really my jam. As a judge, I can’t say that I get to vote on CPs often because they are typically kicked or are not competitive enough to survive an affirmative team well-versed in permutations. A CP should be something to which I can give thoughtful consideration. Don’t blow through a really complicated (or long) CP text. Likewise, if the permutation(s) is intricate, slow down. Pretty sure you want me to get these arguments down as you read them, not as I reconstruct them in cross. I vote for theory as much as I don’t vote for theory. No real theoretical dispositions.
1. I’m not going to bump your speaks for thanking me and taking forever to start the round because you’re asking “opponent ready? judge ready? partner ready? observers ready?” for the first 20 minutes.
2. If you do not take notes during my RFD, I will leave.
3. Don’t clip. Why do debaters in Arkansas clip so much? Answer: Because I don’t judge very much in Arkansas.
4. Keep your own time.