MELISSA WADE
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Emory University

28 years coaching; 24 rounds on the topic

GENERAL: I understand judging philosophies to be guides for student

adaptation, so I will try to provide some insight into my idiosyncrasies

as a judge developed over time (a really long time...). I have not judged

this semester so please remember that acronyms and other abbreviations may

not be a good strategy. Counterplan conditionality, dispositionality, and

other “if-then” forms of argument are fine but I prefer firmly advocated

positions. New cases are fine at the NDT. Why should education in

argument substance or strategy stop because it’s the last tournament of

the season? I don’t have particular biases on arguments this year of

which I am aware beyond a tendency to resist a team’s overclaiming of

links to large impacts on the affirmative.

CRITIQUES: I have historically enjoyed listening to critique rounds. I

think they have energized the debate process. They mirror debates in the

academy on language and assumptions of argument. I think they are

particularly relevant to this year’s topic and the level of substantive

creativity on these arguments has been truly impressive. Ways to

enfranchise the voice of that which various cultures label as “other,”

while concomitantly advancing substantive argument have become quite

sophisticated on both sides this year. The edebate discussion,

particularly on the performance issues, has been thoughtful and

insightful. That being said, I do resist emotional appeals which

trivialize (or ignore) the thesis of an argument position. I also find

tension in the advancement of performance critiques to “win” a debate.

While the “educating the larger group” position is viable, this is an area

I find difficult to reconcile. To be honest, I also find great tension in

the “tyranny of grammar rules/T” positions between advocacy and fairness

in competition--and I fully concede that I have not read this literature,

so I recommend caution on topicality with me in this argument position.

EVIDENCE: I try not to ready evidence after a round unless my error

requires it or it is the main emphasis of the round. I believe we are

engaged in an oral contest and not a moot court contest. The strategic

emphasis of the debaters is lost when the post-debate agenda is primarily

card evaluation--when some of us don’t cut cards, and some of us cut so

many that we are influenced by what is not read. PLEASE HEAR THIS: If I

can’t understand your delivery of a piece of evidence it is not on my

flow. Evidence read unintelligibly leads to abuses like card clipping

with no real accountability.

STYLE AND STRATEGY: Debaters are rewarded for taking positions and

defending them. Laundry lists of arguments that are all delivered as

equal positions without a persuasive explanation of strategic emphasis

vis--vis the opponents arguments are not viable. WEIGHING arguments are

critical to the outcome of the debate. If a debater fails in these tasks,

judge intervention is required to sort out a decision. Debaters can

prevent that with well argued summative positions, particularly in the 2NR

and 2AR stories. There is a difference between comprehensible speed and

excessive speed: know thyself! Tag team CX is acceptable as long as one

colleague does not use the situation to dehumanize the other. Above all,

a sense of humor and respect for all of the participants is appreciated.