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

Policy Debate Experience/Background:
I have been involved as a 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).

Style of Debate Preferred:
I see debate as a communication activity which does require debaters to speak clearly and at a rate that is comprehensible. If I cannot decipher the argument because it is stated at a rate that hurts the "ear", then the argument is not in the round. If I am not flowing you and looking at you with glazed eyes....that is a good sign that you are speaking too rapidly. It does not have to be oratorical, but should be clear what the voting issues are and why you should win the round. Note: If most debaters used language more efficiently and concisely, they would never have to “spread” and would cover far more ground with greater clarity. Word Economy is what I like to see….Get rid of all the extra verbage and you will be amazed with how much more ground you can cover in 8 minutes.

I am a policy-maker which in my view involves the stock issues. I will vote on inherency if the argument is run correctly and not just a cast-off. At the end of the round, I compare policy alternatives and vote for the best one with the normal debate rule-constraints (c. plans have to be untopical, etc.)

Topicality: Will vote on it...especially if case is abusive....but believe in a reasonability standard as the way to assess the issue. I see it as a procedural question ....not a substantive one. So, if the case is clearly un topical...run it. If it is just another argument to run that has no consequences if you drop it (Neg.) than don't. It becomes a real "time-waster" at that point. However, if the Affirmative do not answer the argument correctly, I will vote on topicality even if the case is topical…reluctantly. I just so hate to have to do that.

Kritiques: Don't like them. As a policy maker, they are very difficult to weigh in a round. If you have a philosophical position, make it part of you DA instead and we will both be happy.

Counter plans: Must be untopical, competitive/mutually exclusive and have additional advantages to make them a more desirable policy option. I am a traditionalist toward counterplans. I think there are far better strategies available to Neg. then to do the same thing the Aff is going to advocate and just change something cosmetically to make the policy alternative untopical. There has to be a real advantage to just changing the acting agent for the negative team to give up the advantage of presumption. But then again, I have certainly seen affirmative teams not handle counter plans correctly…..but if they do, it is very difficult for negative team to recover and win the round.

Conditional neg. positions: Not very accepting of them. Usually, it requires the negative to contradict themselves. Argue a consistent position which is much easier to defend than one that is usually is supported by contradictory evidence. Not a fan of running everything and anything and let’s see what sticks at the end of the round. I find it annoying, abusive and not good argumentation.

Ideal Debate: Ideally, 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. Whether this is a debate round with many different issues or a few issues….depends on the topic and the debaters. Lots of different scenarios and/or advantages is probably not high on my list. In other words, you do not need to 10 point every issue. 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 in the final rebuttals so that I am not left with that task myself.


One other note of consideration: If you know my philosophy toward debate and my judging paradigm and you ask me questions about it before the round, try to adapt to it. If you have no intention of following my suggestions….then DON’T ASK me what I like to see in a debate round. No one likes to be ignored or suggestions disregarded.
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