Marquette University High School '09
Northwestern University '13

Background: I debated for four years at the high school level for MUHS, and I'm currently a freshman at Northwestern University. I judged at the novice level twice last year, but other my judging experience is limited.

Basic Opinions: Although I'm very willing to vote for anything that is both well-articulated and supported by decent evidence, I am of the opinion that some sort of factual consistency should exist in the round. That said, I'm not looking for debaters to present a PhD thesis on any particular topic, but rather encouraging a depth of knowledge that proves you know the topic well. This is especially important on the affirmative, and in critical argumentation. In short, make sure your evidence quality and comprehension are where they should be.

I try not to do work for either side, but if certain gaps are left at the end of the round, I'll generally default to evidenciary comparison. Therefore, it's to your benefit to tag your cards correctly.

I think technical skill is important, and it will definitely boost your speaker points. However, technical ability is never a replacement for good argumentation. If you run stupid arguments in a fantastic technical manner, be prepared for a high point loss.

In round, my pet peeve is wasting time. Just don't steal prep, or I will become very annoyed.

Finally, I think it's important to mention that I haven't read very far into this topic. As we speak I'm reading what I can to try to get a grip on everything, but if you make a reference to how "common something is on this topic" or "the core of the topic" I'm going to ignore you unless you have something to support that claim.

Specific Arguments:

Disads: Obviously pretty straightforward, just make sure the internal links actually exist. Big impact claims aren't necessarily bad, but more often than not they're just not true.

Kritiks: I spoke a little about kritiks above: make sure you understand what you're saying. I'm also not a big fan of the kritik whose meaning isn't fully clear in the 1NC, and then becomes something absurd in the block. Ultimately, kritik debate for me always depends most heavily on the way the impacts are framed: either the argument becomes "their mindset/assumptions kill v2l and make children explode," or the far superior argument "the fallacy of their assumptions justifies x, y, z and therefore we should not evaluate the debate using their rhetorical tools." Also, I think there's a fundamental distinction between kritiks of politics or policy (ie. "look at the debate beyond the level of policy/policymaking bad") and kritiks concerning rhetoric or representations (ie. "something in this specific policy or this justification of this policy is wrong"). I think both have their merits, but oftentimes the former can become a bit absurd and changes the framing mechanism so much that the debate ceases to be about the substance of the kritik. In those cases, I think rounds become far worse and less interesting, and I would always appreciate the kritik being the focus of the round. provided you're going for it.

Topicality/Theory: I wasn't a T debater in high school, but I'm certainly not opposed to voting for it. There are certainly plans which blatantly flaunt their borderline non-topicality, and teams that run them should be challenged. However, there are a few caveats: DO NOT use a stupid interpretation or counter interpretation. Should isn't the past tense of shall, your case isn't the only topical case, and A-Spec/O-Spec is almost always stupid. DO NOT read a thousand one-sentence standards. Most of them probably suck anyway. I said before I enjoy depth of argument, and that certainly applies here. DO use evidence if you have it. T debates with evidence are great. And it basically goes without saying that reverse voters don't exist, and T is almost always a voter.

Theory is its own issue, although a lot of the same rules apply. The key difference in theory debates is articulating correctly why the opposing team should lose because of what they've done. If there isn't a good answer, don't even bother.

Counterplans: Process counterplans, agent counterplans, states counterplans, all generally dumb. My threshhold for voting against these arguments is not very high--I think 50 state fiat bad or the permutation can be argued very persuasively. However, counterplans that actually have evidence, or are supported in literature, are incredible arguments. If you can find these, run them and I will be happy.

A Final Note: I want to make sure I don't dissuade teams from running arguments that aren't common, but are well-crafted. Crazy arguments and arguments with bad evidence are not necessarily the same thing. I'm definitely not going to vote against a team just because their arguments are not mainstream or seem outlandish. The same goes for performance arguments and abnormal debate styles in general--I'll definitely listen to arguments as long as they make sense and are well supported.

Obviously, I'm happy to answer your questions before a round, but I feel that if you read this you should be in good shape. Good luck.