Robert Barbera Invitational
2022 — Northridge CA, CA/US
Public Forum Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Michael Eisenstadt, Ph.D.
Director of Forensics, California State University Long Beach
13th Year Judging College Debate | 18th Year Judging High School Debate
2014 CEDA Pacific Region Critic of the Year | 2018 "Top Critic Award" at the Las Vegas Classic (UNLV) | 2019 CEDA Pacific Region Critic of the Year
For questions of any kind, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tournaments Judged This Season (2022-2023):
***I would like to be on the e-mail chain (email@example.com, not my Tabroom e-mail).***
I will not necessarily read along with your speeches, but I would like to have evidence in the case that particular cards are disputed in cross-x and/or to make reading them after the debate concludes quicker.
This judge philosophy is just that, a philosophy. I think I have become more ambivalent to what your argument is over the years and more concerned with how you argue it. My job is to evaluate the arguments made in a debate, your job is to tell me why and how I should vote for them. Therefore, I think the following information is more helpful for you than me telling you what arguments I "like." This is your debate and not mine. Every day is #GAMEDAY and I will work hard when judging your debate, the same way I appreciated those who worked hard to judge my own.
An important meta-theoretical note: I believe in a 'healthy diet' of persuasion. I perceive there to be a serious problem with communication in competitive debate. Debates are won by important communicative moments (see below). Whether they are fast, slow, passionate, or hilarious, they must happen. I believe Will Repko has called these "Moments of Connection." Reading into your computer screen with no emphasis or clarity would make having such a moment extraordinarily difficult.
Debate is a communicative activity. This means that to win an argument a) I have to understand it and b) I have to hear it clearly enough to know it was there. At the end of the round, if we have a disagreement about something, usually a failure to achieve those requirements will be my explanation. Reading directly into your computer during your speeches and/or making no attempt at eye contact drastically heightens the risk of a miscommunication.
I am deeply concerned about the trend of evidence quality in debate. Teams seem to frequently read evidence that either fails to make a warranted claim OR that is highlighted down into oblivion. I think that a team who reads fewer, better (read: warranted) cards and sets the bar high for their opponents has a much better chance of winning their nexus/framing arguments.
Debate is what you make it. For some, debate is a game of verbal chess that is designed to teach them about institutional policy-making. For others, it is a place to develop community and advocacy skills for the problems and issues they face on an everyday basis whether at school, within debate, or elsewhere. I believe that one of the best things about this activity is that it can accomplish so many different things for so many individuals and it serves a variety of purposes. I think either or any of these approaches teach us the transferable skills debate can offer. No matter the arguments presented in a debate, I will always recognize this and will always support you for what you do. Over the years I have found myself voting fairly evenly for and against "framework" arguments because I will evaluate the arguments made in the debate itself. My ballot will never be an endorsement of one form of debate over another, it will very simply represent who I thought did the better debating.
Framework. In 1984, Dr. David Zarefsky famously argued, "the person who can set the terms of the debate has the power to win it." Generally, the 2NR that goes for "Topicality + Case D to Aff Impact Turns" is more likely to win in front of me than the 2NR who only goes for "State Good/Inevitable," though that is typically suitable defense on the case when the affirmative criticizes governmental action. The negative wins in front of me going for this 2NR strategy most often when it includes some combination of the following 3 arguments:
1. An interpretation supported by definitional evidence (that is ideally contextual to the topic). I am uncertain why negative interpretations like "direction of the topic" circumvents affirmative offense. These softer interpretations typically hurt the negative's ability to win the limits DA without much payoff. I have found that negative teams have a more uphill battle in front of me when the only term in the resolution they have defined is "United States Federal Government."
2. A Topical Version of the Aff and/or Switch Side Debate argument - I think of "framework" as the intersection between Topicality and argument(s) about how I prioritize impacts, which impacts should be prioritized, and what the best strategy for dealing with those impacts is. So, having a "counterplan" that plays defense to and/or solves portions of the case (and/or the impact turns) can be a good way to beat the affirmative. I find myself voting affirmative in debates where the 2NR did not address the affirmative's substantive offense (so, you did not respond to internal links to impact turns, address impact priority arguments, etc.). I also think this sets the negative up to make arguments about potential neg ground as well as a switch-side debate argument.
3. An impact - I have voted on procedural and structural fairness, topic education, and argument advocacy/testing impacts. Ideally, the 2NR will be careful to identify why these impacts access/outweigh the affirmative's offense and/or solve it. I think that debate is generally more valuable for "argument testing" than "truth testing," since the vast majority of arguments made in a debate rely on assumptions that "the plan/aff happens" or "the alternative/framework resolves a link."
Conversely, the affirmative should point out and capitalize on the absence of these arguments.
Presumption: This is a legal term that I think folks are often confused about. Presumption means that the affirmative has not met their burden of proof (sufficient evidence for change) and that I should err negative and be skeptical of change. Although a 2NR should try to avoid finding themselves with no offense, I am increasingly compelled by arguments that an affirmative who has not chosen to defend a(n) change/outcome (note: this does not mean a plan) has not met their burden of proof. For instance, an affirmative that says "the State is always bad" but does not offer some alternative to it has not overcome the presumption that shifting away from "the State" would be inherently risky. Of course, a framework argument about what it means to vote affirmative, or whether the role of the debate is to advocate for/against change factors into how I think about these issues.
Flowing: is a dying art. Regardless of whether I am instructed to or not, I will record all of the arguments on a flow. You should flow too. Reading along with speech docs does not constitute flowing. I am frustrated by teams who spend an entire cross-x asking which cards were read and requesting a speech doc with fewer cards. In the days of paper debate (I am a dinosaur to the teens of 2020), you would not have such a luxury. There are clearly instances where this is not uncalled for, but the majority of cases appear to be flowing issues, and not "card dumps" from an opposing team.
Permutations: I am almost never persuaded by the argument that the affirmative does not get a permutation in a "method debate." Permutations are mathematical combinations and all methods are permutations of theories and methods that preceded it. I could [rather easily] be persuaded that if the affirmative has no stable advocacy or plan, then they should not get a permutation. That is a different case and has a different warrant (affirmative conditionality). "Perm do the aff" is not an argument, it is not a permutation and says nothing about how a counterplan or alternative competes with the aff. I have also found that teams seem to have difficulty in defending the theoretical legitimacy of permutations. Although I would have an astronomically high threshold for voting on an argument like "severance permutations are a voting issue," such arguments could be persuasive reasons to reject a permutation.
Risk: I find that I am mostly on the "1% risk" side of things when a team has [good] evidence to support a claim. However, I can also be easily persuaded there is a "0% risk" if a team has made too much of a logical leap between their evidence and their claim, especially if the opposing team has also indicted their opponent's evidence and compared it to their own. This is especially true of "Link->Internal Link" questions for advantages and disadvantages.
Tech and Truth: If all arguments were equal in a debate, I would err on the side of truth. However, that is rarely (and should not be) the case. When there is not a clear attempt by both teams to engage in line-by-line refutation, one team tends to miss important framing arguments their opponents are making that undercut the "impact" of their truth claims. This understanding is distinct from "they dropped an arg, judge, so it must be true," since that is not a warranted extension of an argument nor is it a comparison that tells me why the "dropped argument" (how do we know it was dropped if we aren't debating line-by-line and making these comparisons? Could an argument somewhere else or on an entirely different sheet answer it?) should affect the way I evaluate other portions of the debate.
Other important notes:
A) I will vote for the team who I found to do the better debating. This means if your framing argument is "your ballot is political because _______" and I vote for you, my ballot is NOT necessarily an endorsement of that politics. Rather, it means you won your impact prioritization and did the better debating, nothing more, nothing less.
B) I do not want to preside over accusations about what has or has not happened outside of the debate I am judging. In these situations, I will always defer to the arguments presented in a debate first and try to resolve the debate in that fashion, since I am often not witness to the events that are brought up about what may or may not have happened prior to a debate.
C) I am ambivalent about argument selection and theory and am willing to vote against my own convictions. E.G. I think the Delay CP is 100% cheating and unfair but I will not credit a 2AR on that position that does not defeat the negative's arguments about why the CP is good/legitimate or I think conditionality is generally good but would still vote that it is bad if the negative is unable to defend their 1NC strategy.
D) I am unwilling to "judge kick" a CP extended by the 2NR unless they have explicitly told me why I should. The affirmative should, of course, contest the claim that I can always revert to the status quo in the event that a counterplan is insufficient/unnecessary.
I debated for 2.5 years at Cal State Long Beach. I am now a debate coach at Cal State Long Beach. I was a K Debater running arguments pertaining to Afro-Pess, Misogynoir, Reproductive Justice (& Feminism in general), sexual politics, and colonialism. During my time at Long Beach I also competed in IPDA and Parli; also having debate experience in World Schools.
Please add my email to the chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I understand the debate space as an academic site centered on the development and dissemination of knowledge. Primarily a discursive activity, I want to know the importance of theorizing and discussing specific ideas within the space. I am very Truth over Tech and my RFDs will center logic and reason over the technical aspects of the debate (unless the technical is very glaring within the round). I am extremely receptive to historical and sociological theory and use these things to understand arguments.
Things I find helpful within debates: what is the role of the judge? How should I evaluate arguments? What about their plan, methodology, alt, etc. is bad or harmful? how do arguments interact with each other?
K AFFs:Your theory should be the foundation and the background of ALL of your explanations within the debate. You should be using the vocabulary of your 1AC throughout every flow. Please refrain from using buzzwords with no explanation. I like High Theory but don't assume I walk into the room knowing the specifics of your arguments. I expect K Affs to be able to adequately answer generic K's and FW.
Policy AFFs: Because I am Truth over Tech I would like to see y'all interact with such truths. For instance, if your opponents read Set Col and the 2AC extends the Russia/China advantages with generic extinction impacts, this will not move me. I would be impressed to hear how the specifics of your plan affect various indigenous groups or the project of settler colonialism in general. In essence, I would like particular interaction with the details of your opponent's arguments rather than proceed forward with "everyone dies under extinction, and this overwhelms the links"
Go ahead and speak at the speed you are most comfortable.
I flow on paper and I also tend to flow CX paying attention to interesting moments or points made.
I also pay heavy attention to the way power flows through the debate space and I am critical of the space people take up within round. With that said I like it when debates get heated but just make sure to be reasonable with one another.
Tell me how to navigate the debate. Persuade me and you have my ballot.
If you have any questions feel free to ask but other than that, Happy Debating!
Jaysyn Green (she/her)
Director of Forensics at Juan Diego Catholic High School - Draper, UT
Coach of TOC Qualifiers in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015
Debated at Idaho State University
2010 NDT Elimination Round Participant. 2010 + 2011 CEDA Quarterfinalist.
Hi folks - my pronouns are She/Her and you can call me Hunter.
I got my undergraduate degree in communication from California State University, Fresno, and I'm currently finishing my MA in communication studies at California State University, Northridge, where I worked as a teaching associate and helped coach forensics from Fall 2020 to Spring 2022.
I debated open policy for Fresno State and was a K debater. Although my partner and I primarily ran fem theory arguments, I'm familiar with both critical and policy arguments and will vote for either. I have experience coaching and judging LD in Fall 2020/Spring 2021 as well as IPDA Fall 2020/Spring 2021 and CPFL Fall 2021/Spring 2022/Fall 2022/Spring 2023 for CSUN and will be coaching CPFL and judging for Fresno City starting in Fall of 2023.
In general, signposting during speeches should be clear (especially via a digital platform). I trust that you all can manage your own speech + prep time. I do flow the rounds + CX regardless of whether it's IPDA debate, policy debate, public forum, etc.
Also, I tend to have a pretty straight face during the round and will likely be looking at my flow sheet on my laptop and not at the monitor where my cam is if things occur virtually. Don't take my facial expressions (or lack thereof) as any indication of my thoughts on the round. I'm just focused on flowing your arguments. The same goes for in-person rounds.
Some additional important info:
I think how you treat one another in round is important. There's a difference between confidence in your arguments and being disrespectful to another competitor. That being said, just be respectful to each other. Policy debate (and debate in general -- LD, IPDA, PoFo/CPFL, etc.) is stressful enough as is; no one needs to add to that stress by being rude, disrespectful, etc. Also, I won't tolerate anything discriminatory. What you say + how you say it matters.
My email is email@example.com and I would prefer to be on the email chain. Also, please use an email chain and not speech drop.
Public Forum Paradigm:
Please send your speech docs to me and the other team. It makes flowing easier via a digital platform and evidence exchange is good practice (it's also encouraged in the CPFL Policies and Procedures under section 3.4 Evidence Exchange Expectations).
Speed of Delivery: I do not think public forum debaters should be spreading like policy. You can speak quickly or with a sense of urgency, but I think part of the emphasis of public forum is its accessibility for a variety of experience levels. As such, the rate of delivery can be quick but should allow the judge(s)/audience members to follow along without extensive debate experience.
Timing: You should time yourself. I'd encourage you to time all the speeches, truthfully. It'll help the round stay on track (and the tournament as a whole) if we're efficient with our time together in round.
Evidence: You should cite your evidence adequately and clearly according to the CPFL Policies and Procedures Evidence Norms and Evidence Exchange Expectations (available here: https://www.collegepublicforum.org/procedures). I would prefer a bit more than the author name and year of publication (perhaps a quick statement of author credentials), but I know time is short so at the very least have name/year. Please, please, please cite your evidence. I'm all for analytic arguments, but they should not make up the bulk of your speech time in the constructive and/or rebuttal speeches. Incorporate evidence and cite it throughout the round. During the summary and final focus, cross-apply earlier evidence to your arguments ("[insert argument]. This is supported by [recap earlier evidence].")
Argument + Style: Style is important, but I weigh the quality and content of the argument over style. Additionally, no new arguments in the final focus, and, personally, I don't think new arguments should really be introduced in the summary unless they are a direct response to a rebuttal claim and include evidence.
Flowing: I think you should be flowing. Not only will it help you to keep track of your arguments in round and your ability to answer your opponents' arguments, but I think good flowing helps create good debaters who have a solid grasp of what's occurring in the round and the ability of debaters to weigh and prioritize arguments. I flow the entirety of the round, so you probably should too!
Constructive speeches: Be sure to clearly state and cite your definitions, judging or value criterion, and sources throughout the round. If you plan on offering a counter definition(s), do so clearly and don't abandon your framing after the constructive speeches. Also be clear when stating your contentions.
Cross-Examination: This is a question and answer period, not a speech. Be clear, concise, and strategic with your questions. If you turn CX into a speech it will likely affect your speaker points.
Rebuttals: Clearly identify why you are winning the round, how you are ahead on the flow, why your framing/definitions or judging criteria are preferable, etc. You should be able to isolate one to two key reasons why you are winning the round and impact them out during these speeches + state why they are preferable to your opponent's case.
Timing: Keep track of your own speech times. I will roughly gauge the times, but you should hold yourself and your opponent accountable. If I notice that someone seems to be going over time or not timing accurately, I will step in but I'd rather not have to interrupt anyone :)
Flowing: See above in my PoFo description^
Policy Debate Paradigm:
Aff: I'm game for policy or critical affirmatives so long as you can defend them, but you shouldn't abandon your aff position after the 1AC. Run what you want, defend it, and don't abandon your case flow.
T: I think affirmatives should at least be related to the topic on some level or another. That being said, I'm all for persuasive arguments as to what is vs. isn't topical. I'm not a super strong proponent of strict, policy T shells. As long as the aff can justify why they are in the direction of the topic, I'll usually grant the interp.
FW: I'm down for FW, but it should be specific. Vague framework shells that are a stretch at applying to the aff aren't very persuasive (i.e., general "K's bad" FW shells probably won't win my ballot). However, substantive framework debates about why I should view the round a certain way are great.
DAs: Good, a pivotal part of policy debate, especially for novices. I'll vote for a disad, but be sure to explain how they link to the aff.
CPs: Same thing as DAs. I think CPs are a pivotal part of policy debate, especially for novices. CPs should have a net benefit + at least solve part of the aff.
Ks: Love critical arguments (both on the aff and the neg). However, if you run a K strictly for strat and I can tell you don't know the argument, that isn't super persuasive in my mind. If you're going to run a K, know it well. If you run a K on the neg, be able to articulate the links and the alternative. If you run a critical aff, you should be prepared to answer T/FW and be able to articulate the world of the affirmative if you win the ballot + how the aff advocacy solves.