Kay Neal, Chair of the Department of Communication Univ. of Wisconsin Oshkosh

I have been involved as a policy debater..both high school and college and as a college coach and debate judge for over 40 years. (Yes….we had electricity and indoor plumbing back then). My primary experience as a debate and coach was in policy….not L.D. debate. (It did not exist when I was competing as a student). However, I have judged L.D. debate for over 15 years and actually have co-authored an argumentation and debate text book for the college level. The chapters I contributed to the book had to do with value debate ( how to write an affirmative/neg case involving values and value criterion). I see debate as a communication activity which really embraces the philosophy of L.D. which requires debaters to speak clearly and at a rate that is comprehensible. It does not have to be oratorical (although that is nice to hear every now and then), but should be clear what the voting issues are and why you should win the round.

Because of my policy background, I do believe that the affirmative does have the burden to prove his/her case in order for me to support the resolution. Therefore, the negative only is required to prove the resolution false. However, if affirmative carries the value in the round, which is hopefully supported most effectively through his/her case, affirmative is likely to win…..so the value debate is very important.

Every L.D. debate should have a core value, a value hierarchy (how values "stack up" against each other) and a value criterion (the standard by which we judge the core value in the overall value hierarchy). The value and value criterion are different animals. Many L.D. debaters treat the value criterion as just a different value. It should not be this. For example, societal welfare (core value) can only be obtained by promoting public safety (value criterion). Therefore, the direction that promotes more public safety is necessary for gaining societal welfare.

I think it is difficult for Affirmative to win the round if he/she doesn’t carry the value….assuming both sides are arguing different values. So, yes….I believe that winning the value/criteria debate is essential for a debater to win (especially aff.) However, if both sides are defending the same value….then I vote for the individual that best meets that value. It would be difficult to “sell” me on the most desirable world/worldview independent of the value being defended. It could only be sufficient to win the round if the worldview encompasses the better value or the agreed upon value by the debaters. However, with that said....every round is different. Sometimes the value is not a big issue in the round for whatever reason....So don't hold me to this statement literally. Debating is fluid.....and as a judge, I try to do my best to judge fairly and not be held to an inflexible, rigid standard of what a L.D. debate round must always be. Sometimes, it is not that......especially given the number of policy resolutions we have seen in the last couple of seasons.

Ideal Debate: Debate is an argumentation and communication activity and there is CLASH between the two teams. I do not like lots of silly, trivial arguments…but do like issues that are well developed and discussed fully. Good arguments, well supported, clearly presented should prevail. I like clear, case specific analysis that is delivered in a comprehensible manner and rate. Make sure you weigh the issues and focus on the voting issues in the final rebuttals--especially why the value you are defending should prevail-- so that I am not left with that task myself.