Mark Bentley - Appalachian State University

Saved Philosophy:

Mark Bentley, Appalachian State University

Section 1: General Information

I approach debate as an academic exercise with critical rhetorical implications. I vote on arguments, not people. I will not vote for a team based upon personal characteristics they were born with or somehow acquired. I do not consider myself capable of judging the merits of an individual's narrative, and I am not generally disposed to personal narratives (that I cannot verify, and am not willing to dismiss) used as competitive leverage to win a ballot. I believe the debate space should be about critiquing ideas, not attacking people.

I really like specific, well run critical debates. They are my favorite, but I'm also totally good with non-critical arguments. So, if critical arguments are not your thing, don't feel like you have to run them in front of me or I won't vote for you. I vote for plenty of non-critical arguments. Likewise, just because you run a critical argument doesn't mean I'm automatically going to vote for you.

I evaluate arguments in whatever framework I am presented with, as long as it's warranted (don't just tell me something is important, tell me why it's important). I usually do not vote on defense alone, and prefer offensive arguments on positions rather than just defensive. When weighing arguments, I default to weighing probability over magnitude and timeframe, but I will weigh them differently if you tell me why.

I have a rather high threshold for spec arguments and need to see clearly articulated in-round abuse, or I will not vote on them. This usually manifests itself as obvious underspecified, groundshift-ready plan situations. Spec arguments generally function best for me as link insurance for other positions. Asking questions are a must when running spec arguments (also, as a general rule, answer at least some questions). Generally, the Neg gets 1 conditional advocacy and the status quo. I am willing to vote on conditionality with multiple conditional advocacies. However, even if an argument is kicked, its rhetoric has already been introduced into the round and I still consider valid link access to that rhetoric.

I tend to protect against new arguments in the rebuttals, but like POO’s called when whoever’s giving the rebuttal thinks they’re getting away with sneaking new arguments in.  I tend to protect the PMR against arguments suddenly blown up in the MO, and the opposition from arguments suddenly blown up in the PMR.

Section 2: Specific Inquiries  

Please describe your approach to the following.

1. Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given)?

          25-30. 27-30 is my typical range, 25 and below is for really bad speeches a/o abusive individuals.

2.  How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments? Can critical arguments be “contradictory” with other negative positions?

I definitely prefer critical arguments that are “grounded in the specificity” of the resolution, over generic, over-run kritiks (if your criticism is as important as you say, you can certainly link to and specifically engage with any res/arguments the other team runs). I will vote on permutations and theoretical objections. I also give weight to performative contradiction arguments as deficits to solvency (or however else you would like to use them). I get bored with highly generic kritiks. I will also vote on topicality for nontopical Aff K’s (again, if the issue is that important, it's also embedded in the resolution). That said, I really like critical arguments when they’re not generic and the ideas are clearly articulated. Explain your ideas instead of just throwing terms around. Sure, I may know what the terms mean, but I need to know how you are using them to determine the functionality of the argument. I also think it’s important to not only tell me the importance of (or need for) the interrogation or deconstruction the criticism engages in, but also why should we engage with THIS specific interrogation/deconstruction and what, if anything, it seeks to solve, resolve, change, etc. In other words, don’t drop or omit solvency of the criticism. Also, don’t give blanket blips of “alt solves all” because, no, it doesn’t. I understand that argument as a game piece, but if your advocacy is worth voting for you need to have more analysis than that. Use solvency as a way to justify the need for the criticism through analysis of what it actually does.


3.   Projects and performance based arguments…

I don’t tend to find "performance based arguments" particularly persuasive, and aren’t really my thing. Unfortunately, I think the structure (meaning actual structure like speech times, speech order, ballots, win/loss, number of judges, etc.; not white, sexist, cis-centric, etc. structures) of the debate space and inherent competitive nature of the exercise is too constricting and self-defined to allow for "performance" solvency. The way "performative arguments" are often run makes it too easy for the other team to non-unique the "performance" with links to existing power structures/discourses/performances. I don’t buy arguments that your in-round "performance" solved for more than what it might have in the immediate context (if you advocate for suspending the illusion of the debate world). I also hold that the act of debating, criticizing, and advocating itself is a performance, and so you will need to do extra work to justify how and why yours is extra unique. I do think "performance" as critical metaphor can have access to rhetorical solvency, but it's harder for me to access literal solvency.

For "projects": I have and will vote for "projects" that engage with the topic of the resolution and the other team’s arguments. I will not vote for a team based upon personal characteristics they were born with or obtained. Avoid debates about the personal characteristics of the people in the room. This leads to bad things for lots of reasons. As I've said, I am not in a position to be the arbiter of personal narrative validity, and really dislike being in that position. There is so much we don't know about everybody involved in this activity, I have no right to decide what somebody is/isn't and I don't think you do either. By all means, PLEASE indict rhetoric, but not individuals in the round. If you place me in a position to judge the validity of an individual's personal narrative, at best I will ignore your arguments putting me in that position.

4.   Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations?

I tend to weigh topicality through competing interpretations (make them clear what they are), but a clear “we meet” by the Aff can also be sufficient if it’s obvious. I prefer specific ground abuse stories when voting on topicality, though they don’t have to always be “articulated in-round” abuse.

5. Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms -- textual competition ok? functional competition?

I tend to view most counterplans as theoretically legitimate and like to leave it up to the debaters to determine what is or is not legitimate in the given round. I don’t like delay counterplans, and will not be likely to vote on a PIC when the resolution calls for a specific plan action on the part of the affirmative. I am open to voting for a PIC bad argument. Neg should also give CP status.

6.   Is it acceptable for teams to share their flowed arguments with each other during the round (not just their plans)

Yeah, I don’t really care what you share...but that also doesn’t mean you don’t have to flow and just use the other team’s flows. Also, I don't think teams are necessarily under any sort of obligation to share their flows with the other team, but this can also be contextually dependent.

7.   In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?

First off, you should definitely tell me which order I should evaluate and why. If you haven’t, this usually tells me you haven’t done your job. I usually evaluate K’s and T’s, then impact calculus. As stated above, I default to weighing probability over magnitude and timeframe.

8.   How do you weigh arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?

Again, if it gets to this point, you haven’t done your job and I won’t be real happy, and you probably won’t be happy with my decision. I don’t automatically weigh death more than dehumanization, but can go either way based on the context and arguments. Well warranted impacts are always preferred over poorly warranted ones.

Amanda Ozaki-Laughon - Concordia University Irvine

Saved Philosophy:

Hello! My name is Amanda Ozaki-Laughon, and I am the Co-Director of Debate at Concordia University Irvine, where I competed in parliamentary debate for 4 years. This is my first year on this side of the ballot. This won't be long, because skimming judging philosophies right before prep is still pretty fresh in my mind.

Personally, I don't feel as if my opinions on arguments will completely reach a certain end point. I hope I never reach a point where I stop learning. Debate is always changing, and I am almost* always open to hearing new ideas (unless it's your sweet impact turn on why patriarchy is good...or e spec).

*Some quick tendencies I have: I strongly prefer policy debate as opposed to value/fact/metaphor debates. I prefer all advocacies to be unconditional. I prefer you be nice to your opponents. I will be vocal if you aren't being clear or are speaking too quickly for me to flow.

Overall, I enjoy smart, educational debates where each team is engaging the method of the other, whether that be a debate focused around the topic, or a debate focused around systemic problems inside/outside debate. Shockingly, usually those debates occur when all the advocacies in the debate are unconditional! But seriously, sarcasm aside, I went for process counterplans and politics disadvantages just about as often as I went for Wilderson and Homonationalism. As long as your warrants match up with your claims and your impact calculus is on fleek, I'd love to hear it..

Some of my weaknesses:
-I often read theory in the MG, but rarely went for it in the MO.
-I prefer fewer, more in-depth arguments than debates where people are freaking out about dropped tiny blips with no impacts. -I was a very technical/distanced debater. I never talked about my personal identity, experiences or background in my arguments. Later during the year, I watched many debates where emotions/the arguments got extremely real. I don't want my lack of tears or emotion on my face to be misconstrued as being callous if I have to judge a debate like that. At the end of the debate, someone has to win and another has to lose. Debate is, after all, a game that I adore, and I will do my utmost to resolve any debate I am in front of in the most fair and educational way. This means that I am just as willing to vote on framework as I am to vote for what may be considered a non-traditional affirmative. 
-Speaker points are rather subjective. I would never accept bribes. However, if you buy me starbz, I can't guarantee that it won't effect how many points you get. I like iced vanilla lattes.


Richard Ewell - Concordia University Irvine

Saved Philosophy:

Hello, all!

My name is Richard Ewell and I currently serve as one of the Co-Directors of Debate for Concordia University Irvine. I competed for El Camino College for three years and Concordia University for two.

When I first set out to write my philosophy my goal was to give you all some insight into how I evaluate arguments as a critic. The interesting thing I have found is that it is difficult for me to do that because I don’t have a great deal of experience judging anything other than one-sided high policy debates. So unfortunately you are stuck with a bunch of random things I think about debate. Hope this helps!


Yes, please? No judge has ever squawked at the idea of a case specific disad with an intuitive link story, and I don’t plan on being the first. If relations, hegemony, or politics is more your thing, that is perfectly fine too, as I spent a large chunk of my career reading those arguments as well.


Counterplans like condition and consult are legitimate under the specific condition that there is some sort of solvency advocate presented. Otherwise I will be skeptical of the theoretical legitimacy of such arguments, and thus more likely to reject them should an objection be made by the opposing team. Perms are never advocacies, and are only tests of competition. But you knew that already…


I will listen to your SPEC shells, and I won’t penalize you for running it, but the likelihood that I endorse such an argument with my ballot is slim. I believe such debates are best resolved through debates about what constitutes normal means. When evaluating theoretical objections I am inclined to reject the argument and not the team (except as it pertains to conditionality, which we will get to in a second), but will listen to arguments which suggest a harsher punishment is warranted. As for conditionality…I don’t really think it’s that bad. Considering I was unconditional for 90% of my career I might be inclined to favor the “condo bad” over the “condo good” arguments, and multiple conditional strategies are likely to annoy me a great deal, but logically consistent strategies which include disads and/or case turns with a conditional K or counterplan don’t seem that unreasonable to me…

K’s on the Negative:

I read the K a good deal in my final years in debate, and I enjoy these types of debate very much. However, NEVER assume that I have read the foundational literature for your K because I make it a policy to not vote for arguments I don’t understand…

K’s on the Affirmative:

I read K’s on the affirmative a great deal. But even when I was doing it I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Was it fun for me? Yeah. For my opponents? Probably not so much. That bothers me a bit. Does that mean that you ought not read these arguments in front me? No, that is absolutely not what I mean. In fact, topical critical affs are some of my favorite arguments. If it is not topical aff (perhaps, a rejection of the res) that is fine as well so long as there are specific reasons why the res ought be rejected. Put simply: the less your argument has to deal with the topic, the more likely I am to be persuaded by framework and topicality.

Miscellaneous Stuff:

-Be nice! Providing a spirited defense of your arguments and being kind are not mutually exclusive.

-Not a huge fan of “no perms in a methods debate” type arguments. Tests of competition are generally good for debate, in my opinion. I understand the strategic utility of the position, so I will not fault you for running it. I would just prefer that you not (get it? prefer that you not? never mind).

-I am also not a huge fan of “you must disclose” type arguments. I think topicality is the argument you should read against critical affs, but do what you will.

-I don’t know what to do with text comp. I think I know what it is, but for all of our sakes making a specific theoretical objection (delay bad, consult bad, etc.) will get you further with me than text comp will.

-And last, have fun!

(EDIT FROM AMANDA: Richard is a TOTAL REBUTTAL HACK. Also any fantasy football references or shoutouts to the Philadelphia Eagles will get you speaks)

Josh Vannoy - Grand Canyon University

Saved Philosophy:

Experience: 4 years of NPDA Debate at Concordia University Irvine. I competed at the NPTE and NPDA all four years of college. My views regarding debate have been heavily influenced by Kevin Calderwood.


Debate is a game.  There are arguments I personally will lean towards, but ultimately you should make the argument you want to make.  Also I am a first year out critic, meaning that my decisions will probably not be the most consistent, so roll the dice if you want.


Theory ran properly can win my ballot. I would avoid V/A/E/F specs/specs in general, unless the abuse is really clear. All standards should be read slowly twice, or I won’t be able to flow it.  I do not need articulated abuse.  Competing interps is my go unless you have something else.  I most likely will not vote for “you must disclose” arguments.


If your PMC lacks warrants/impacts the ballot should be pretty easy for the Neg.  If the entire PMC is dropped, it should be a pretty easy ballot for the Aff. I will not do work for any impacts, if you just say “poverty” without terminalizing the impact, I will not terminalize it for you.


So I personally enjoyed performative debate, it was fresh and interesting. If you decide to have a performance argument/framework you need a justification and a true performance. If you say performance is key in the FW and then do not “perform” anywhere else I will wonder why it was argued in the first place.   I will need performance specific Solvency/Impacts if you take this route.

The K:

When I first started debating at CUI I was afraid of the K, towards the end of my career I loved it. All K’s should have a FW, Thesis, Links, Impacts and an Alt with Solvency arguments. If one of these pieces are missing it is going to be difficult for me to evaluate the criticism. Sometimes people skip the thesis, that is ok so long as you describe the thesis somewhere else in the K (Earlier the better).  The closer your K is to the topic the easier it is for me to vote for it. Reject alts are ok, but I find ivory tower arguments to be very compelling in these debates.   Like I said above I ran Mark/Symbolism the most but am open to any other type of K.  I probably have not read your author so please be very clear on what the Thesis of your argument is, name dropping means nothing to me.

Non topical Affirmatives:

So if you decide to run a Non topical affirmative I would keep a couple of things in mind when arguing them in front of me. I am not a fan of militarized agency and find it difficult to weigh the debate when it becomes Arguments vs People. I do believe the topic has some importance in the debate, since it arguably is one of the only stable locust that both teams have access to, if you are going to run a non-topical affirmative a discussion of why the topic is problematic/harmful to debate would be needed. If the neg argues that there was a topical version of your affirmative (and its true) it would be pretty easy for me to vote on T.

CP Theory:

Is condo bad? Probably… Having debated under Kevin Calderwood for three years this is the argument that stuck with me the most. If a condo bad shell is run properly and executed well I will probably vote for it. Although I am open to a conditional advocacy (that means one) if you can justify it in responding to condo bad arguments (Multiple conflicting advocacies make it really easy for the aff to win the condo debate)

Never run delay.

50/States/Consult/Courts need a DA/Net Ben/Justification for doing so.

Pics are awesome if done well, and please read all CP texts (Just like All Alt/Plan texts) slowly twice.  If you do not provide a written copy for me and I do not hear it well enough to write it down, things will not look good when I make a decision.


I am not a fan of the multiple perm trend, 1 – 2 perms should be enough, I am open to Neg multi perm theory arguments when teams run 4 – 8 perms.  If your perm does not solve links to the DA’s/Offense it would probably be better to just respond to those arguments instead of making a perm, considering a perm is just a test of competition.

Speaker Points:

I honestly do not know how I will be with speaker points. When judging high school, I always leaned on the higher side of speaker points, I most likely will keep things in the 27 – 29 range.  Odds are I will not pass out 30s often unless you speak like Richard Ewell or topically find a way to take out Kim Jong-un. 

Emma Hong - Grand Canyon University

Saved Philosophy:

Hi y’all! I am the Director of Debate for Grand Canyon University, and I have 3 years of experience in parliamentary debate. Overall, I approach debate as a strategic game in which impact calculous is critical to winning the round. I refuse to do work for either team; if you do not terminalize your impacts, then you have little chance of winning my ballot. When I debated, I particularly enjoyed running spec and theory arguments. Additionally, I have no specific issues or qualms with kritiques (I find that they can be both intriguing and persuasive IF impacted out via a clear and concise advocacy/alt). Also concerning the K debate, framework is key. I would say the work on the FW page is the fastest route to winning my ballot (since I will always defer to you for how to approach the round). That being said, there are a few things I am not fond of: discriminatory rhetoric, aggressive and/or hostile debate performances/speeches, and the use of trigger words. I encourage partner communication (it’s a team sport after all), but make sure to not puppet or talk over another person’s speech. Side note: I am hard of hearing in one ear, so adapt accordingly. Moreover, I can flow speed so feel free to go as fast as you want, as long as you don't sacrifice clarity.

In regards to Aff or Neg ground, I have a relatively low threshold for procedurals. However, that does not mean that if you run T it’s an automatic win. Rather, considering that I don't believe either side it entitled to a specific amount of ground, I am open to the most persuasive and warranted perspective about the parameters of a specific resolution. As such, if you can legitimately argue that one side has very little scope/ground in a round, I will hear it.

Furthermore, if you say the Aff’s interpretation of the rez is “abusive”, that’s not enough impacted out analysis to win my ballot (and I don't need articulated abuse). In other words, since I don’t believe there are any rules of debate, the round can be however you frame it. My best advice is to impact out as many arguments as possible, provide more warrants than the other team, and do whatever you can to give yourself a strategic advantage in the round. Oh, and I don’t necessarily believe Condo is bad (but I will be more likely to support the argument that multiple advocacies/delay is harmful to debate). For perms, procedurals, and theory overall, I do prefer that teams run multiple standards and voters to their (counter)interpretation. And one last note, try to take at least a couple of questions from the opposing team (I think it creates better clash and can also be weaponized in secondary speeches).

Vasile Stanescu - Mercer University

Saved Philosophy:

Name: Vasile Stanescu

School Affiliation: Mercer University

Education: Ph.D. from Stanford University 

Professional Background: I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and DoF at Mercer 

Debate Experience:

I debated in policy debate for seven and a half years (in high school and college.) In high school, I won state, won districts, qualified for the “Tournament of Champions,” (TOC) and received the “Jefferson Bowl” (top eight teams) at the National Forensics League (NFL) tournament. In college, I co-founded the debate team at the University of Texas at Dallas, qualified for the National Debate Tournament  (NDT), broke at Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and won the award for the "best new team in the nation."

I never really had a debate coach. If you're at a college with a student-run debate team, I know the feeling.  

Judging Experience:

I have judged multiple rounds of both parliamentary and policy debate in varsity and open including elimination rounds. 

In parli, I've judged at the Tournament of Champions Round Robin, the Sunset Cliff Classic, Mile High, Nationals, NPTE, etc. 

Judging philosophy and preferences:

Short Version: Argue more like an activist or a scholar and less like the traditional lawyer or politician.


Long Version:

I Hate "Performance" Debate:

Please stop pretending like you are a person in Congress, parliament, or a “policy maker.” In contrast, I do appreciate it when people genuinely speak about their actual lived experience both within and outside of the debate community. I think the debate space would be a better (as well as a more socially responsible) space if people stopped performing, role-playing, and acting like Congresspeople and started being honest and sincere. I think that debate currently does a very good job of training both lawyers and politicians; I think that we have enough lawyers and politicians. I think this space could more effectively be used to start to train activists, ethical thinkers, and scholars. How would debate look different if our goal was to train the most effective activists instead of the most effective trial lawyers? What would we value? How would we judge? What would we want to change about this activity? What would you want to do differently? If debate could be anything, how would you remake it?

I Love Speed:

For me, things cannot change quickly enough: Ferguson, Eric Garner, the prison system, climate change, factory farms, wealth inequality, TRUMP so many things. I’m a former policy debater; I can understand people at any speed. However, talking at a speed that anyone can understand will probably help all of us to bring along these changes a great deal sooner.

PICS are OK:

Also selfies. Really any way that you'd like to film or record a round is OK with me. I think that the debate space has to be opened up. If you make a powerful performance about what needs to change, everyone should have a chance to see it. Right now how many people come to see a round?  Maybe a few dozen if you're incredibly lucky? And it's a final round? The first video when I googled  "funny cat antics" had 32,401,857 views. (Seriously; here’s the link: How many times have you been in round where you heard some argument about changing people through the in-round advocacy?  And there were five people in the room? If you actually want to start to make a difference: talk in a way that people can understand, film the rounds, put them online, and reach out to people. I don't care how you run counter-plans.

Perms are OK:

Really any hairstyle. What is not OK is sexism or, really, any type of discrimination. You know that women and minorities join this activity a higher rate than white men? But the reason that we don't see more of them is because they quit? Why they quit is complex, but, at least in part, it stems from issues such as unnecessary and off-putting jargon, intimidating speed and speech patterns, having to pretend to be "policy makers", and, perhaps most importantly, feeling that they cannot talk about their actual experiences even when the topics they are debating are about these very experiences.  Can you imagine any experience more alienating than not being able to talk about your own experience with racism on a topic actually about racism? Or not being able to talk about your experience of sexual harassment even on a topic on sexual harassment?  If you need numbers, I chose this one article (among many, many others. It's slightly old but specific to the NPDA.):

"Much research in the collegiate debate community has centered on investigating sex as it compares to win/loss records or speaker points (Hensley & Strother, 1968; Bruschke & Johnson, 1994; Hayes & McAdoo, 1972; Rosen, Dean, & Willis, 1978).  These studies generally indicate that female participation is lower than male participation overall, and female participation in outrounds is not representative of overall female participation.  Fewer females compete than males, and even fewer women than men break into national outrounds.  In fact, some studies (Logue, 1986; Friedley & Manchester, 1985) have found female participation in NDT and CEDA to be as low as 20% and 30% respectively. Stepp and Gardner (2001) collected ten years of demographic data from CEDA national tournaments.  They found that over the ten years female and minority participation was increasing slightly.  However, the rate of success for female and minority groups stayed the same, and this rate is much lower than the rate of white males."

This specifically applies to the NPDA:

“Clearly, NPDA as an organization is unable to retain female debaters.  NPDA needs to discuss why female debaters are leaving the activity in such great numbers.  Recruitment does not seem to be the problem.  In fact, if the same amount of female novice debaters who competed this year stayed on for four years of competition, then the demographics of NPDA would be nearly equivalent.  Thus, individual debate programs need to be mindful of not only reaching out to local high schools to recruit females but also focusing on retaining the females that they already have.”




“It is clear that NPDA is overwhelmingly Caucasian, and individual programs and coaches do need to do a better job recruiting minority students in order to promote racial and ethnic diversity within NPDA.  However, it is not clear why minority students do not advance at the same rate as non-minority students in outrounds at the national tournament.  Since minority students tend to have the same or more experience on average than non-minority students, minority students may not be advancing because of discrimination within the organization.”


(Jennifer H. Parker, forensics coach at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, “Female and Minority Diversity Within NPDA: An Examination of the 2002 National Tournament;” 2002)

If we want to keep the debate space as friendly as possible to straight, white males from upper-class backgrounds, there is--literally--nothing that we need to change.


T is always a voter:

Well, technically, he missed a couple of years in the 80’s. But, for the most part, Mr. T is all about civic virtue. What doesn’t make me want to vote for a team is when people run "Heg good" for the 50,000,000th time in debate and then claim that the "performance" team is unfair because it "hurts education."   Or when a team runs an economics DA claiming that marginal spending on an obviously good social program will lead to nuclear war; then claims that debate teaches "real world skills." 

 Nor am I fan of two white "bros" drinking red bull and running a critical race argument (wilderson) against a team that is actually composed of people of color. Please do not run a critique of sexism against a team composed of two women of color because they used one word you didn't like on a topic about sexual violence. Also please do not run a critique of anthropocentrism as passionately as possible in front of me and then, immediately, eat hamburgers after the round. (None of these are hypothetical examples; all of these have actually occurred in front of me ).  Please reflect (beforehand) on these types of decisions.  Please reflect before you treat others’ suffering (minorities, women, animals or others) as only a type of toy, strategy, or commodity that you can marshal and use  to win another debate round but does not, in fact, represent something you believe in or commit yourself to trying to change or eliminate in your own life or in the wider community of debate.   


Final items the form tells me that I have to include:

“Preferences on calling Points of Order:”

Please pronounce it with a thick British accent. Placing your hand on your head is highly encouraged. Extra speaker points will be given for any debater who wears a large white wig. In other words: Sure? However, please reflect on the performative nature of college undergraduates acting like they are in British Parliament and shouting specialized jargon like “the severance permutation justifies the inround abuse on conditionality for the counterplan” while speed reading like an auctioneer through Latin phrases, Continental philosophy, and "Brink" updates about the Bond market. Please remember: a person reading a poem about their actual experience with racism is not the person who is making this space exclusionary.

“Relative importance of on-case argumentation to the critic in decision-making:”

I rate it at 7.3 (on a ten point scale). Above counter plans but below Foucault critiques. Roughly equal to the “bright line” standard on topicality. While not a prima facie burden, as a tabela rasa critic, I have to weigh it under a principal of odi profanum vulgus et arceo.

In other words, I have no preference about this or any of these other preset questions. Run whatever type of critique, counterplan, “stock issue” that you like. I have no preferences, whatsoever, on any of this; I'll even vote on trichotomy (it's happened).  However, what I am trying to communicate, is that I think, all of these, are entirely the wrong questions to be asking. 

What I will say is: Why not run a “performance” or a “project” yourself? If debate isn’t the space that people can talk about their experiences with racism, sexism, or marginalization where should they have a chance to actually be heard? Think about how many times they/you have already been told that. And, if you are going to prima faciely exclude all of these voice/people/experiences—why do you think that this activity still matters? Is that the kind of space you want to create with your time and your energy? Here’s the thing: Hopefully, we will dedicate a large chunk of our lives to making this the spaces around us reflects our beliefs and values. The debate community, itself, should be a place for us to start: that's my judging philosophy.

I hope that none of this seems disrespectful to anyone in any way. That is not my goal. I have spent over a decade in this activity; I value it and I treasure. It is because I love debate that I think that the activity (in both policy and parli) needs deep and fundamental change. Honestly, I only vaguely care if my team wins or lose. I mean, I care because they care (and I deeply care about them) but --personally--almost not at all. It is sad to me when judges and coaches still seem to think they are the one's debating. I had glory days. They were a blast. They're over.The only reason I coach and/or judge is the same reason I'm a professor: To try and make things better. I hope you will share your ideas about how we might be able to do that, right here, in debate. 


Important update: All jokes at Trump expenses will be greatly appreciated. I think we could all use a laugh right now. 

Jason Edgar - Missouri Western State University

Saved Philosophy:

Background: Professor of Argumentation and Critical Decision Making at Missouri Western State University. For 20 years I have competed, coached, and judged Cross Examination Debate, Public Forum, NFA Lincoln Douglas, Traditional Parliamentary Debate and NPTE circuit Parliamentary Debate. This year I have judged about 30 rounds of intercollegiate debate.

Approach of the Critic to Decision Making:  When I competed in high school and college, Comparative Advantage was the most prevalent criterion. Thus, I understand and enjoy those types of rounds the most (ex. Ads, Disads, CPs). Having said that, I am open to critical arguments on both the Aff and Neg side as long as there is a clear framework and impacts. I don't really buy role of the ballot arguments unless you say the role is to circle a winner and award speaker points. Topicality is a voting issue and I'll listen if there is clear abuse in round.   

Relevant Importance of Presentation/Communication Skills: I'd prefer that you make cogent arguments as opposed to a speaking race, but other than that I am fine with speed and you won't lose me. If you aren't comfortable with speed but you attempt it anyways, or you cannot stop buffering, it typically irritates me. Debate isn't a race, it's a search for truth. 

Relevant Importance of On-Case Argumentation to the Critic in Decision Making: In order to make an effective argument and for me to make a critical decision at the tournament, a case will need to have (at least) inherency, significance(harms), and solvency. Prima Facie is a voting issue. So if the negative can prove that the current system can solve the problem, or proves that the harms are insignificant, or the plan cannot solve, then I can definitely see myself voting neg. If Aff can defend those stock issues without causing massive impacts, then they win. 

Preferences on Procedural Arguments, Counterplans, and Kritiks: As mentioned above Topicality is a voting issue but should only be ran if there is clear abuse in round. When people asks for my "threshold" I usually just tell them that it depends on the round. I love counterplans because it allows the negative to not have to support current system (Trump). As for Kritiks, they are the only arguments that I didn't myself run or run into when I was a competitor, so don't expect a thoughtful disclosure if you go all in on the K. That being said, "non-uniqueness doesn't stop the pain" and I'll definitely listen as long as you provide clarity.  

Preferences on Points of Order: I don't think there is much of a community issue with an overabundance of Point of Orders, so feel free to use them if there is a clearly a new argument or abuse in round. 

Closing Thoughts: I'd like you to do whatever you want in the round. Sure, I have my preferences, but I want the debaters to feel most comfortable. I do love my career, so running arguments that view debate in a negative light, I probably won't vote for. In round, it would be in your best interest to not be rude. JE



Brent Nicholson - Missouri Western State University

Saved Philosophy:

Big Picture

Debate is, first and foremost, a rhetorical and social game. That doesn't mean it isn't important or that it doesn't affect the “real world.” All that means is that it's a construct with a set of rules that allows us to do a structured activity where one team wins and the other loses. My favorite thing to see in a debate round is people who are passionate (or appear to be passionate) about their advocacy (or lack thereof—let the squo work for you). Basically, if you play hard and engage the debate to the best of your ability I'm going to appreciate you for that.

            I'm not sure I've ever seen a form or style of debate that isn't valuable in some way. Most of the problems I have with debate activities and styles of debate stem from the way people handle them. That blame almost always falls on coaches, not competitors. I think that value and fact debate could be and sometimes are good styles of debate. I feel the same way about “performative” and “non-traditional” arguments. I've seen excellent debates from all camps and I'm really okay with and interested in almost anything at this point.

            However, I really like it when prep matters. I like that we have a resolution that both teams get and they talk about that. When one team talks about anything that is not the resolution (or the aff), it can have a negative effect on the round. I hate debates that prioritize the element of surprise as opposed to quality argument as a means of winning. I know it's easy and I was guilty of it too, but at some point, it says a lot about you as a competitor if you're willing to publicly own your strategies and just be better than the competition.


Quick Points

-Deploy the strategy that will best help you win, even if I don't enjoy it, your chances are better with whatever you feel comfortable with.

-Jokes and personalities are nice. They make me like listening to and judging you. Debate isn't a robot activity, be yourself and see what happens.
-Condo is good

-Ks are fine, they're better with specific references to the aff.
-Theory is wildly underutilized. I have a high threshold for voting on MG theory.

-Performance debate is awesome – but it should still have some grounding in the topic. Framework to answer performative arguments isn't the best strat, but it is a strat.
-Give your opponents the benefit of the doubt. Their arguments are likely better than you think they are.
-Please, answer each others' arguments. If neither team engages with the substance of the other team's strategy, I will be an unhappy camper.


Aff Teams

I wholeheartedly believe that the affirmative team should defend the fiated implementation of a topical plan text if it improves their chances of winning the debate. In other words, do whatever you think benefits you most in the PMC. Please, stake out your ground and be defend it. The affirmative should be cohesive, but diverse enough to allow a wide range of answers in the MG. I love affs with hidden tricks and arguments that appear useless until extended. Read two advantage to policy affs or be prepared to answer counterplans with some good offense. I'm fine with almost every aff strategy I have seen that has been related, in some way, to the topic. If you read a fiated plan text and claim other impacts based on the performative aspect of the aff, your aff is likely conditional. I don't think that is good for neg ground and you should likely avoid doing this in front of me.


Neg Teams

I think wide LOCs featuring multiple unique strategies are in the best interest of the negative team. Unless you say otherwise, I’ll assume any negative advocacy is conditional. With that said, I prefer deep, case focused debate when possible – regardless of the type of aff it is. My favorite debates to participate in and watch have always been about the case and its intricacies. I don’t expect you to answer case exclusively, but you should have some meaningful answers and some of them should be offense. Defense does not win debates, but it does mitigate the risk of impacts and give you a better chance to win the round. A diverse LOC will make for better debates and increase your chances of winning.


None of this has changed since I started judging, except that I've recently switched back to flowing on paper. So, if you've had me as a judge before, you shouldn't really need this info. It's really only for the people who are having me judge them for the first time.         

            I flow on paper because I feel like it gives me an idea of what the competitors can flow and keeps me engaged in the debate. One significant difference that has led me to make different decisions than other judges I have been on panels with is that I think the distinction between “pages” in a debate is totally arbitrary. I am open to the idea that arguments implicitly interact with each other. The extent of that interaction is something I will still evaluate if that interaction happens in the LOR/PMR. I won't, however, exclude heg arguments from solving another war scenario (for example), simply because the MG doesn't explicitly cross-apply them.

            In terms of my actually flowing, I start at the top left and flow arguments straight down, separated by dashes and lines. It has never failed me. That does mean I don't number arguments, but if you extend your #6, I can go back and find that after the round. However, a good extension would also explain that argument and why it matters, making the number irrelevant. I flow answers the same way, starting next to the most recent speech and straight down. Even if you say you will answer links, then impacts, then uniqueness. I will flow it all straight down.

            I flow criticisms on one page in the order the argument is read. I flow every answer to a criticism in a straight line starting at the top of the page. I don't jump from Alt to Links to Impacts if that's what the MG or MO does. If you want me to flow theory objections separately (this goes for counterplan answers too), you should make that very clear. My instinct is to flow theory on the page it answers like I flow everything else.



Impact Calculus

I always vote on numbers-based magnitude claims absent impact calculus by debaters. This seems to me to be the only way I can make a decision that is not biased by my own thoughts about timeframe or probability, because it is based entirely on a quantitative claim as opposed to qualitative ones. I would prefer debates that are about probable impacts, especially ones that will happen quickly as a result of the plan. However, I understand the strategic importance of high magnitude impacts and would encourage you to deploy a mixture of impacts in your strategies.

            Debaters tend to believe that I prefer magnitude claims for some personal reason. In reality, I think probability and timeframe (in that order) are the most important forms of impact calc. My problems largely come when debaters fail to discuss in comparative detail the probability or timeframes of the impacts in the debate. Impact calculus should always be comparative, but going for probability or timeframe forces you to do more comparison.



I view all theory as a matter of competing interpretations. I don't need “proven abuse” to vote on theory. I don't need counter-interps in all instances. If the aff team says conditionality is bad, I see no reason the neg team should have to read a counter-interp to impact turn that argument. Condo good and defense is likely sufficient. That is not true in all instances, if you don't have robust answers to theory, a counter-interp can do well to solve some or all of your opponents offense.

            I will vote for theory before I vote for substantive issues. On that note, I have a lot of concerns about the way that non-topical critical aff teams answer theory. I have trouble imagining a round where I would allow the aff to say the PMC (by itself) outweighs theory. If the theory argument objects to the reading of the PMC, then the neg winning theory seems to me to preclude the PMC from being evaluated. Obviously, this is up for debate and I think dealing with these concerns in a round would probably yield a great theory debate. That does not preclude the aff team from reading other critiques of T, I just think it means the aff itself may not a DA to T on face.

            The likelihood that I will vote for generic spec arguments is negligible. You'd be better off to just use cross-ex or points of information to get a link than to waste your time on that. And, if your link is tenuous enough that you need to read spec to protect it, you may want to reconsider that link argument in prep.



I have a few specific thoughts on topicality that are unique from the rest of my thoughts on theory. Topicality is, to me, a question of what the debate should be about, whereas other theory is typically a question of how the debate should be done. I have no issue with teams reading topicality as part of an LOC that answers a critical/non-policy aff, but I do think that the aff has some ability to interpret the topic. As long as the aff has a defense of how their argument is about and/or in the same direction as the topic, then I am unlikely to vote on T against those affs.

            A topicality interpretation should allow some aff ground. If there is not a topical aff and the MG points that out, I'm unlikely to vote neg on T. I don't think reasonability is a good weighing mechanism for parli debates. It seems absurd that I should be concerned about the outcomes of future debates with this topic when there will be none or very few and far between.
            At topic area tournaments, I am far more likely to vote on topicality. That does not mean that you can't be untopical, it just means you need good answers. I am also open to sketchier T interps if they make sense. For instance, if you say that the aff must be effectually topical, I may vote for this argument. Keep in mind, however, that these arguments run the risk of your opponent answering them well and you gaining nothing and looking silly.


Speaker Points

I will give you speaker points for strategies and arguments I like. I will take away speaker points for strategies and arguments I don't like. If you do well, even if I don't like your strategy, you'll get better than average points (about 27.7). Use the Quick Points to get an idea what I like. LO points will be weighted in favor of the LOR, PM points in favor of the PMR. If you don't collapse in the block or PMR, that will not go well for your points.

            If you want to argue with my decision, go ahead. If you're wrong and you keep pushing, I'm going to tank your speaker points. If you're right, I'm going to feel really bad and think about what I've done. You can decide if that's worth it to you.


Alice Lin - Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley

Saved Philosophy:

Background: I debated parli at UC Berkeley 2011-2015. I majored in economics and now work for the USFG.


Case/counterplan debate:


Nontopical affs:




MATTHEW SWANSON - Saint Mary's College of CA

Saved Philosophy:

Thoughts from Matthew

Please speak up, I am still really hard of hearing.  I do sit in the back of the room almost exclusively to make you work harder.  If you want me to not sit where I want ask me to move, I have no problem moving.


Debate has been my home since 2k

When it came to competing I did OK

It is 2015 and I am still here

Doing something that is so dear

Before you decide that I am a worth a strike

Question if that is really what you would like

I have yet to go Mad as a Hatter don’t you fear

But some of this may not be what you want to hear


Where do we come from and what have we seen

Debate is about all of these things and more if you know what I mean

Debate has something to offer us all

Perform it how you want that is your call

But when you say “new off”, condo, I squeal with sooooo much joy…

Skipping that strat is something you may want to employ


Don’t just deposit your arguments, I am more than a purse

We all have our own rhyme rhythm and verse

As fast or as slow before time has been met

Say what you can, leave no regret

Teach me these things you believe

I will listen to any argument that you conceive


Many of you will pretend to be the state

If you don’t it won’t make me irate

Yet, I read as much of your lit as you did of mine

I say this now so you don’t again hear me whine

Explain what you mean and mean what you say

Wouldn’t want that pesky discourse getting in your way


Do you think this is some kind of game

Probability magnitude timeframe

Impacts are not dead, they represent life

Be aware of where you point your knife


Now comes the end of my little story

Go off and live – fight for your glory

I wish you the best with an open heart

As a judge, my time is yours, until our ways part

Adam Testerman - Texas Tech U

Saved Philosophy:


Hi there!  I have competed in debate and forensics for over 10 years.  I participated in parliamentary debate during college, with two years at Southern Illinois University and two years at Texas Tech University.  I feel comfortable judging any “genre” of argument and have no real argument preference beyond the desire to see clash.  I coached for three years at Lewis & Clark College; this is my first year as Director of Forensics at TTU. 


General Issues

Parliamentary debate is the most fun and the most educational when a variety of argumentative styles, people, knowledge bases, and strategies are given room to thrive.  I feel lucky to have judged a vast array of different arguments in my judging career.  One of my main goals as a judge is to allow teams to run the arguments they feel are most compelling in front of me.  I’ve picked up teams reading structural indictments of debate about as many times as I’ve picked up teams reading policy affirmatives and defending incrementalism. 

It is my goal to involve myself in the debate round as little as possible.  I have no preference for any particular kind of argument and generally feel that almost every debate issue can be resolved in the round.  I will vote for arguments with warrants. I will try my best to synthesize your arguments, but I also believe that to be a central skill of effective debaters.  I will vote for arguments I think are stupid 10 out of 10 times if they are won in the round. 

I rely on my flow to decide the round.  I attempt to flow performances and I do my best to write down what you’re saying as close to verbatim as my fingers allow me.  If there is an expectation that I not decide the round based on the way I understand argument interaction on my flow, that should be stated explicitly and it would be a good idea to tell me how I am intended to evaluate the debate round. 

Emphasize explanation early… don’t let your argument make sense for the first time in the LOR or PMR etc. 

All constructive speeches should take a question if asked, and it’s strategic to ask questions. 

Theory interpretations and advocacy statements should be read slowly and read twice. 

Points of Order should be called, but I will also do my best to protect new arguments… don’t be excessive with them though [I’ll be vague about what that means, but be an adult] 

RVI’s have never been good arguments, read them at your own risk.  

I am not the best judge when it comes to speaker points.  I tend to average a 28-point something, but I don’t vary outside of that range much.  I am trying to adjust my scale, but fair warning that I’m not the judge giving everyone 30s. 



I cut my teeth on procedural arguments in college, and I am still a huge fan.  To vote on a procedural, I need an interpretation explaining how the debate should be evaluated, a violation detailing specifically why the other team does not fit within that interpretation, standards that explain why the interpretation is good, and a voter that outlines why I should vote on the argument.  PLEASE read your interpretation/definition slowly and probably repeat it.  It is good to have an interpretation that makes some sense. 



DAs and Advs. Require uniqueness arguments that explain why the situation the affirmative causes is not happening in the status quo.  If you plan on running linear DAs, please spend time explaining how the affirmative triggers a new impact that is not present in the status quo [or makes a current impact worse.]  Defensive arguments are useful, but they often serve to make offensive arguments more impactful or serve as risk mitigation, as opposed to terminal takeouts. 

I ran politics in a majority of my negative rounds and I coach my teams to read the position as well.  So, I will totally vote on politics every time it is won.  That being said, I’m finding the position to be one my least favorite and least compelling these days.  The obscene nature of congress these days make the position even more laughable than it was in the past [and it’s always been sketchy at best, without cards (and with?)].  Read the DA if you’re a politics team, but there are almost always better arguments out there. 



Critique debates can be fun to watch, but only when the position is clear at the thesis level. If your shell argues that the K is a prior question or something like that, spend some meaningful time explaining why that’s the case instead of “shadow” extending an argument from the shell.  I am familiar with a lot of the literature, but you should argue the position as if I am not.  Critiques are totally dope, but only because they have the potential to advance compelling arguments… not because they are obtuse. 

Framework debates are a waste of time a vast majority of the time.  I do not understand why teams spend any substantive amount of time on framework.  The question of whether the affirmative methodology/epistemology/whatever vague term you want to use, is good or bad should be determined in the links and impacts of the criticism.  I see almost no world where framework matters independent of the rest of the shell.  So… the only K framework questions that tend to make sense to me are arguments about why it is a prior question.  It makes sense that if the critique wins that the affirmative impacts are threat constructions that I’m not going to weigh the affirmative impacts against the position.  That’s not a framework debate though, that’s a question determined by winning the thesis of the position. 

Critical affirmatives can be cool, but they also put me in a weird position as a judge sometimes.  If your affirmative is positioned to critique DAs, then I still want to see specific applications of those arguments to the DAs.  I need to see how the DA demonstrates your argument to be true in some specific way.  By that I mean, if the negative outright wins a DA, I would need to see why that would mean the affirmative shouldn’t lose early, often, and specifically.  The same is true of any set/genre of negative positions. 


I tend to not have super strong feelings in favor or in opposition to “performance” style arguments.  Several of the teams I have coached have run non-traditional arguments and I have seen those be incredibly beneficial for the debaters and have a positive effect on education garnered from their rounds.  I have also seen people really struggle with performance-style arguments on an interpersonal level, in both advocating their positions and responding to others doing so.  I defer to the debaters to wade through the various issues related to performance-style debate.  For me, performances [and this is definitely for lack of a better term that groups non-policy/non-topic oriented approaches] have the potential to make very compelling arguments.  However, I will vote for framework as answer to these arguments if the other team “wins” the position. 



In general, the CP/DA debate is probably what I feel most comfortable judging accurately and I think CPs that solve the affirmative are very strategic. There are probably enough arguments on both sides to justify different interpretations of how permutation or CP theory in general should go down, that I don’t have strong opinions about many CP related issues.  

I tend to think objections to conditionality are rooted in some very valid arguments, however I find myself concluding conditionality is probably more good than bad in my mind.  That only means the conditionality debate is totally fair game and I probably have voted conditionality bad as many times as I have voted it is good. 

Cheater CPs are cool with me, so feel free to deploy delay, conditions, consult, whatever.  I tend to think the theory arguments read in answer to those positions are more persuasive than the answers when argued perfectly, but that in no way makes me more predisposed to reject any kind of CP strategy.

Matt Reisener - The University of Texas at Tyler

Saved Philosophy:

Background: I spent four years debating for William Jewell College and competed at both NPDA and NPTE from 2010-2013.

General Information (TLDR Section):  As a rule, debaters should not feel that they need to substantially alter their strategies to fit my preferences. Just because I read Heg and PTX every round when I competed, doesn’t necessarily mean I expect you to do the same. Read whatever arguments you believe will best help you to win the debate round, and I will do my best to fairly evaluate them in making my decision. That being said, understanding my thoughts on certain arguments may help inform your strategies, as I’m much more qualified to judge a Heg Good/Bad debate than Lacan vs Baudrillard.

-I believe all affirmatives should include a fiated, topical plan text.

-I am a big fan of warrants. As a rule, if a team reads an argument against you that is not coherent or warranted when it is initially read, I will give you a certain degree of leeway in answering it in later speeches. For example if the LOC reads a disad that does not make any sense to me until the MO/LOR, I will give the PMR a longer leash in answering that argument than I would under normal circumstances. This won’t be a problem in 99% of debates, but if your strategy is to purposefully muddle the debate in the constructives, do so at your own risk.

-I will clear you if I can’t understand you. I feel pretty confident in my ability to flow fast debaters, though I may ask you to increase your volume if you tend to speak quietly, particularly if I am relegated to the back of the room.

-I believe each debater should have to take at least one questions during a constructive speech (if asked).

-While I am not in the business of discounting particular arguments on face, I will warn you that I am not likely to vote for “fact/value debate good,” “perms are advocacies,” “Aff doesn’t get fiat,” anything dealing with attitudinal or existential inherency, or reverse voting issues unless the other team just drops these arguments completely.

- I flow the LOR on a separate sheet of paper. It probably goes without saying, but I think splitting the block is extremely abusive, and will likely discount the LOR entirely if it is spent going for arguments not in the MO.

-If you think an argument is new, call a point of order. I will do my best to protect you from new arguments, but it is to your advantage to alert me when the other team is making one just to be safe.

-Please provide copies of all texts (if at all possible) and read all interpretations slowly and at least twice.

-Numbering your arguments does wonders for my flowing. That being said, I promise I will still write down your arguments even if they are delivered stream-of-consciousness style and absent any tags.

-An average speaker will receive 27 speaker points from me. If you receive 30 speaker points, it means that you have given one of the single best speeches I have ever seen in a debate round.


-Unless specifically told otherwise, I evaluate all theory arguments as a priori.

-I view all theory debates through the lens of competing interpretations. If you do not have a coherent interpretation on a theory position, I will find it very difficult to vote for you.

-I do not necessarily need proven abuse on theory in order to vote for it, but being able to articulate a clear instance of in-round abuse will likely increase your chances of winning a theory debate.


-I don’t hate the Kritik, I really don’t. But I honestly do not have a ton of background in most of the K lit, particularly more post-modern arguments. I feel fairly comfortable with the Cap, Biopower, and Militarism debates, but I do not delude myself into thinking that I have read all of the relevant literature on these topics. Therefore, if you want to debate the K in front of me, PLEASE give me a general thesis of the argument at some point during the shell, and try to define all of the obscure terms of art you use so that I can figure out what you’re talking about.

-The best Kritiks are either topic-specific or include specific links that directly answer the affirmative. The worst Kritiks are those that are composed entirely of post-modern buzzwords, rely on links of omission to interact with the affirmative, and name-drop authors at the expense of reading warrants. If you believe you can debate the K without falling victim to the pitfalls listed above, then you will probably be safe reading it in front of me as long as you can explain the argument effectively.

-I have no idea what judges mean when they tell LOCs/MGs to “engage the Kritik” when answering it. If they mean that you should answer its substantive claims as opposed to exclusively reading procedurals and permutation arguments, then I absolutely agree. But in my experience, certain critics use “engage the Kritik” as a euphemism for, “the only way to answer the Kritik is by trying to move father left than the Kritik.” I am not one of those critics. If you want to answer the K by out-lefting it, go right on ahead. But you should also feel free to impact turn, read framework offense, defend the merits of fiat, or just read 8 minutes of reasons why the alternative would collapse hegemony. In my mind, giving a list of reasons why the thesis of the Kritik is a terrible mindset to adopt is the definition of “engaging the K,” regardless of which side of the political spectrum you approach it from.

-I am predisposed to think that the Aff should get access to the impacts of the PMC.

-Alternatives should include a clear description of what the world looks like after their implementation. If you do not defend that anything physically changes in a world of the alt, you should include an explanation of what happens after the critic takes this action.

Narratives/Performance/Non-Traditional Debate:

-If you’re aff, my preference would be that these arguments are somehow couched in the defense of a fiated, topical plan text. If you’re neg, go crazy.

-I’m inclined to believe that debate is a game, that policy-making is good, and that the affirmative should generally try to talk about the topic, but if you can justify not doing these things, then don’t let my predispositions stop you from debating the way that you’re best at. Just make sure that everyone is treated with respect when reading or answering these arguments, which can be very personal for competitors. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.


-These arguments are much more in my wheelhouse. Disads that outweigh and/or straight turn the affirmative tend to be the most strategic in my eyes.

-It would take a Herculean effort on your part and/or a concession on the part of the other team to convince me that it is legitimate to perm a disad.


-I assume that all counterplans are conditional unless specifically told otherwise.

-All counterplans should strive to be textually and functionally competitive. 

-For what it’s worth, I tend to think that PICs, Conditionality, and Topical Counterplans are all acceptable, while Delay, Veto/Cheato, and Object Fiat CPs tend to be pretty abusive. However, I will allow these questions to be settled in the round.

-Permutations should include some sort of text explaining how the affirmative can interact with the counterplan (example: perm-do both, perm- do the counterplan, etc).

-I tend to think that severance and intrinsic perms are abusive, and that a well-warranted theoretical objection is a reason to reject these arguments, but I will let this question be decided in the context of the debate.

Weighing Impacts:

-You should do this. A lot. Kevin Garner taught me how to debate, so I am very partial to buzzwords like, “probability,” “timeframe,” and “magnitude,” being used to describe your impacts.

-Absent arguments to the contrary, I will default to voting for impacts with the largest magnitude.

-Offense wins championships in debate. Defense can be very useful insofar as it prevents the other team from accessing their offense, but defense alone cannot win you the debate round.


Louie Petit - University of North Texas

Saved Philosophy: n/a

Gabriel Murillo - University of North Texas

Saved Philosophy: n/a

Steve Doubledee - Washburn University

Saved Philosophy:

Debate is a game of strategy and persuasion. Those who can strike the perfect balance between these two will always win my ballot.

Things I prefer...
1.I prefer debaters embrace the topic... Topic specific Aff, DA, K, CP, Politics-(specific links), Case, T, Specs etc...are all appreciated. I also understand sometimes you have to run a critical aff via poor ground for the Aff.If you like running identity based arguments I am probably not the judge for you but I will listen.
2.I prefer debaters give impact analysis via timeframe, probability, and magnitude. I will always privilege high probability small impacts over low probability big impacts.
3.I prefer debaters not attempt to speak at a rate they cannot handle.

Things I demand...
1.I want a written copy of all texts Plan, CP, Alts, Perms etc... if overly complicated...if plan is the rez then no need.
2.Be kind to each other. If you are rude it will hurt your speaker points. I am not a big fan of cursing in debate rounds.

Theory thoughts...All theory arguments are fine. Below is my only "theory pet peeve".

Conditional strategies are fine but should be justified through the lens of Aff/Neg flex. So many times debaters want to list off all the advantages of conditional strats but fail to justify why they deserve the right to conditionality in the first place---Aff/Neg flex is how you do so. If the Aff has high flex--(meaning a lot of possible Affs, bidirectional resolution etc...) then the Neg probably has some good justifications for why they need the reciprocal right of conditionality to counter the Aff's use of parametrics.. If the Aff has low flex--(meaning one possible Aff) then the Neg probably will have a harder time justifying why they should have the right to conditionality....Seems like a PIC would be better in this instance.




Shelbie Konkel - Washburn University

Saved Philosophy:

General information:

I debated for Washburn for three and a half years between 2010-2014. I’ll default to a net benefits unless told otherwise. For the most part I am fine with whatever you want to do so long as you justify it. I am fine with a rapid pace of delivery so long as you can be understood. For your benefit (and mine) be as specific and well warranted as possible, even if it means slowing down. Make smart arguments, and make them well – particularly on case. 


I’m fine with generic DA’s like Politics so long as you do the work on the link level. I would prefer one well warranted DA rather than three or four different short shelled DA’s with shaky link scenarios.


I wouldn’t say I have a particularly high threshold for voting on theory so long as the collapse is well warranted and clean. I default to competing interpretations unless you tell me why I should evaluate the debate in a different manner.

Critical arguments and K’s:

When I debated, I read the same one or two generic K’s over and over again that were just quite frankly awful; but I had more success than I deserved because people couldn’t ever answer them well. While I would say that I have a predisposition to the topic (and the ramifications of policy decisions) I am fine with whatever you want to do on the affirmative or negative. You have to explain it well – and I think a lot of the time that means ditching a rapid delivering and making fewer arguments that are longer and more well thought out. If you are going to make critical arguments frame the debate in a fashion that leaves no doubt how I am suppose to evaluate your arguments. 


Counterplans should be functionally competitive. I’m fine with PICs and think that conditional CPs are okay (unless the affirmative argues otherwise). I tend to think that if you can theoretically defend it, it is fine.


Be professional and courtesy. Feel free to call points of order. I will protect, but it never hurts to call attention to something you think is a new argument.

Kevin O'Leary - Washburn University

Saved Philosophy:

Kevin M. O’Leary, Ph.D.
Washburn University (Topeka, KS)

Section 1: General Information

MY BACKGROUND: I started debate in 1982 and was very fortunate to debate with Alan Coverstone for all four years in high school in Illinois.  After high school, I ended up at SIUC under Jeff Bile and debated in CEDA, before the merger, for four years.  I went to graduate school at SLU and started coaching CEDA.   I took some time off from coaching once back at SIUC (for the doctoral program) and after that I started coaching again fulltime in CEDA/NDT, post the merger.  That lasted for four years.  Then in 2003, I came to Washburn as the DoF where we dabbled in policy during my first year before moving over to NFA LD as well as NPDA parliamentary debate.  For the last several years, Washburn has been exclusively focused on NPTE/NPDA parliamentary debate.

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here. . .”  Too true.

“He held the keys to the Kingdom and the world couldn’t do him any harm.”  Interpret the resolution and/or activity as you wish.  Do what you want to do.  Be happy with that and care (a little) less about the win.  If you do, you have already won.  Maybe have a politics, but definitely have an ethic.  Be straightforward with your opponent in terms of what ground they have under your interpretations and doings.

Advice doesn’t get any better than Scott Deatherage’s, does it?  The key to winning a debate will always be locating and developing your relationship to the tipping point for the round, which is always a matter of choice and highlighting on your part.  Highlight the support you have for the claims that matter the most in terms of the tipping point that you have identified.  Explain why the tipping point you have identified is the one that matters most.  Directly clash with the arguments and support from your opponent that could upset your central claims there.  Refrain from editorializing—just debate already, and debate from the position of giving your opponent’s arguments their full due.  Invest in impact comparison and calculation so I can do something with your winning arguments that decidedly favors you at the end of the debate.

“You’re not a punk, and I’m telling everyone.  Save your breath, I never was one.”  I have no strong leanings in terms of genres of argument.  They all have their place, and that highlights, in my opinion, a central point.  Make your arguments context specific, which requires you to think about the context or setting that we’re in, articulate a vision of that, and then make arguments for why your arguments are the most appropriate given the context or setting.  That is the key for procedurals, K’s, on down the line.  “Observing in any given case...”

“Are you having fun yet?”  Please be kind to and take care of one another as well as our host’s space and the activity.  Best of luck!

Section 2: Specific Inquiries 

1. Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given)?


2. How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments? Can critical arguments be “contradictory” with other negative positions?

Discourse based arguments are compelling; so too methodology arg’s.  Aff’s can run critical arg’s/cases.  Opp. can have flexibility in their arg’s in the LOC (maybe later, too).

3. Performance based arguments…

It’s all good, I suppose.  They can certainly be done well.  Isn’t it all a performance?  Why the elipses here?

4. Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations?

Standard, violation, reason to vote.  In-round abuse isn’t necessary, but it’s a good thing to demonstrate.  Competing interp’s are good, but I am not sure they are necessary.

5. Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms -- textual competition ok? functional competition?

PICs are generally a-okay by me.  Opp. should probably id the status of the CP if asked. I’m personally drawn to textual comp., but functional comp. can be won fairly easily, too.

6. Is it acceptable for teams to share their flowed arguments with each other during the round (not just their plans)?


7. In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?

Discourse arg’s, then procedurals, then cba of advantages and disadvantages and/or methodology.

8. How do you weight arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?

Death over dehumanization.  Tangible or concrete scenario (even if less quantity of impact) over the highly unlikely or vague (e.g., under-explained) (even if larger quantity of impact).

Keith Corley - William Jewell College

Saved Philosophy:

My name is Keith Corley and I currently am the Assistant Debate Coach at William Jewell College. My experience in the activity is 2 years at Moorpark College and 3 years at Concordia University Irvine. My goal with this philosophy is to try and be as honest as possible with those who read it as it is my experience that quite a few individuals tend to mislead in order to be part of the in group.

KvsPolicy: During my debate career I spent a majority of it debating policy and case debate. That being said my final year in the activity I debated the K more than 70% of the time. As far as policy debate goes, I expect warrants for arguments. I know that all judges says this but I want to make it extremely clear that you need specific warrants to back up your claims. If you do not have it, often times I will accept the other team to just articulate a lack of warrants in order to refute the argument. Other than that I feel like I view policy in the same way that almost every other person does.

Theory: When I was debating I was really into theory debate, it was something that I really enjoyed winning on. While I am more than willing to listen to you read these, I think it should be pointed out that I really dislike listening to theory that is not strategic or meaningful, aka something that is meant just to waste the other team's time. More often than not I think that the questions that theory is asking is important and as such in this aspect of the debate I do not like gamesmanship.

 Conditionality I was coached by Kevin Calderwood and while I buy into his thoughts in regards to conditionality I want to make it clear that I do not think that one conditional advocacy is necessarily bad. That being said I will definitely listen to a condo bad shell for a variety of reasons. Specifically, I suggest you not run an argument such as whiteness or fem conditionally as I believe that is ethically bankrupt. However, I will not vote anyone down for this if the other team does not win a condo bad theory position.

The K: Like I said, I ran these quite a bit during my last year, however, I do not want you to think that I am up on every single bit of critical literature. I prefer a very explained out thesis for K's that arent cap or something basic. Additionally, you need to explain to me in a very clear way what the alt text does. I truly dislike utopian alternatives with no explanation as to how they function. As far as K's on the aff go I am fine with them, but I would prefer you to make it resolutional. I do not need you to make it topical or use fiat (though that can and should be argued by the neg if they so choose) but I would prefer if the resolution was incorporated somewhere.

Miscellaneous If you only read one part of my philosophy please read this part: Debate was my home and identity for a long time. However, I realize that they type of debate and the space in which I engage in it are not home for many people that do not have my privilege. I want everyone to be able to run the type of arguments that make them feel most at home. That being said, I think that on some occasion in an effort to run arguments that they feel most comfortable with debaters will do so at the expense of the team that they are facing. What I mean by this is that I believe there is a way to run arguments that do not make your opponent feel like shitty people. I understand that some arguments can get real. I think those arguments are fantastic. However, I do not think that it is beneficial for anyone involved to traumatize someone in order to win a ballot. I believe that this space is a place for us to grow an think and learn a bunch of new and different types of education that aren't offered anywhere else whether that be upper level international relations or very critical queer theory. My belief is that our community is at our best when people can experience these hard truths without being brought to tears because the round made them feel like shit. My last note is that most of the fastest speakers in the community often times were not clear enough for me to flow at full speed. If you believe you are in this group please drop to 80% of your speed or wait for me to clear you, whatever you prefer.



  1. Do not make the other team want to leave the activity
  2. No matter what you are running, please make sure that you have a solvency that explains how your plan, alt, advocacy, etc. function
  4. Please for the love of god somebody do impact calculus
  5. Totally down with theory, just not as a time suck
  6. If you make a good Hamilton reference, 30 speaks



Lauran Schaefer - William Jewell College

Saved Philosophy:

Overall, I honestly want debaters to do what they do best in round. I do have a few caveats, however. First, I was never a theory debater and I can get lost in them very easily. I would suggest a few things, most importantly, slow down on the most relevant parts of the theory debate, specifically interpretations. So be advised, I need a clear story and proven abuse to feel comfortable with a decision on theory. I understand in some cases where the other team meets your interpretation, but you don’t have any good positions to go for, in that case be as clear as possible. Second, I prefer probability to magnitude and I will explain that in a later section.

I’m probably too generous with speaker points. I generally give between a 27-29 and avoid 30’s unless the speech is close to perfect. If the round is full of speakers who are generally at the same level, I default to giving the best a 29, the second best a 28.5, etc. (Rob Layne is quickly making me change my point fairy-ness, so bear with me.)

I really like critical debates. Affirmatives can run critical arguments, but I think they need a clear framework with an interpretation and standards. Specifically, tell me why this particular critical aff is warranted. Your interpretation can’t be some “reject blah blah” that are somehow mutually exclusive and some bs solvency telling me how the world will all of a sudden change their mindsets from collapsing some “ism.” Although, I ran arguments like that, I now see that made me a bad debater.  Explain your solvency. What does the world look like after the action is taken? 

Performance based arguments…

I’m fine with them, but I need to know how to evaluate them.

Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations? 

Like I said, I prefer proven abuse. Competing interpretations is probably your best bet. I’m not sure I would even know what to do with out one unless you’re critiquing T.

Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms -- textual competition ok? functional competition?

PICs are a good strategy. The opp should identify the status IF they are asked to, otherwise it’s fair game. Perms should be functional in my ideal debate world. If you’re going to go textual comp you’ll probably want to run more theory than you would with functional telling me why I should prefer it. 

Is it acceptable for teams to share their flowed arguments with each other during the round (not just their plans)

I think as a courtesy, you should always give a copy of any plan text or counterplan text, especially if asked. I don’t care if teams want to share anything other than that.

In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?

Procedurals are obviously first. Next, I would go to framework, if necessary, to determine if the K comes first. Then the substance. I default to the impact debate. 

How do you weight arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?

I look to probability, first. Then magnitude. Finally, timeframe. If you want me to vote on huge impacts that are incredibly unrealistic, you should warrant exactly how these impacts will occur. Not some x country is pissed, the US gets involved, boom, big explosion because some random action causes a war in which rational actors would absolutely have to use nuclear weapons and it would cause a dust cloud that covers the sun. Although I did this, it’s because I had no idea if what I was saying was actually true.

Other Things: 
Making fun of Colin Patrick would make me smile. Forrest Gump, Keith Stone and Honey BooBoo references are a good idea.



David Bowers - William Jewell College

Saved Philosophy:

Question 1 : Please enter your judging philosophy. 

Overview—I very much believe that in terms of debate you should do what you do best and I will try and evaluate it my best.  That being said I think there has to be a very clear way to evaluate the round come the LOR or the PMR, absent that I would probably default to a utilitarian calculus. 

Experience—3 years of Policy, 5 years of parli, 3 years of NFA-LD.

Stuff that you will care about—I generally think that more than one conditional advocacy is not good in parli, this does not mean that you will win if you just say those words, you still have to win that condo is bad.  I also think that T is easiest evaluated in terms of competing interpretations.  If you have questions beyond that on things that I find important please ask. 

Speed—I will be the first person to admit that flowing parli is difficult for me, it was while I was debating, I will flow as many words as I can but if there’s something that you really want me to know I would suggest pointing that out or slowing down for it to guarantee that I get it. 

I very much want debate and especially parli to be a space where people can read arguments that they want to and have conversations that they want to as a result I don’t have a predisposition against any argument (absent arguments the community has decided are not cool), so you should always do you.

Also, I cannot emphasize this enough, I want any debate community I participate in to be open and clear, so if there are questions about what little I’ve written here please ask me prior to the round, or if you see me in the hallway.