Additional Judging Philosophies


Nadia Steck. 1

Alice Hoover 2

Joe Allen. 3

Jake Landsberg. 7

Alyson Escalante. 8

Mike Baum.. 9

Tony Penders. 9

Nate Blanchard. 10



Nadia Steck

Nadia here, I am currently the Coach for Lewis and Clarks debate team I just graduated from Concordia University Irvine where I debater for 2 years, before that I debated for Moorpark College for 3 years. Im gonna give you a TL:DR for the sake of prep time/pre-round strategizing, I want my personal opinions to come into play as little as possible in the debate round. I want the debate to be about what the debaters tell me it should be about, be it the topic or something totally unrelated. I am fairly familiar with Kritiks and a decent amount of the literature behind them, but please do not take that as an excuse to be lazy and just expect me to backfill warrants or arguments for you. If you dont say it, it doesnt end up on my flow, and thus it doesnt get evaluated. There arent really any arguments I wont listen to, and I will give the best feedback I have the ability to give after each round. For out of round thinking or pre tournament pref sheets here are a few of the major things I think are important about my judging philosophy and history as a debater •I hate lazy debate; I spent a lot of time doing research and learning specific contextualized warrants for most of the arguments I read. It will benefit you and your speaks to be as specific as possible when it comes to your warrants. I spent most of my last two years reading the K. I am most familiar with French Postmodernism and Queer theory, that being said I am willing and ready to listen to anything at least once. •I did read arguments tethered to my identity occasionally; that being said, I never read my personal story in debate, nor did I leverage my particular experience as an argument. If you want to do that, go ahead, but as a warning I do not need a lot to be persuaded by framework. This doesnt mean I am discrediting your existence as a person, it means I believe debate is only a good space for advocacy if everyone has a form of access and not everyone is comfortable or ready to share their lived experiences in round and, as such, should not be punished for that. If you want to read your personal narrative anyway, I am more than happy to listen and give any feedback I am capable of giving. •As far as framework and theory arguments go, I am open to listening to any theory argument in round with the exception of Spec args, I honestly feel like a POI is enough of a check back for a spec arg. I have yet to meet a spec arg that was justified much beyond a time suck. If youre In front of me, I give these arguments little credence so you should respond accordingly. •As far as the actual voting issue of theory, I by default assume they are all Apriori, as theory is a meta discussion about debate and therefore comes as a prior question to whatever K/CP/DA is being read. When it comes to evaluating the impacts of theory, please please please do not be lazy and just say that fairness and/or education is the voter without justification. These are nebulous terms that could mean a thousand things, if you want to make me really happy as a judge please read more specific voters with a solid justification for them. This way I have a more concrete idea of what you mean instead of me having to insert my own ideas about fairness or education into the debate space. As far as policy debates go, I default net bens, and will tend to prefer probable impacts over big impacts. That being said, I am a sucker for a good nuke war or resource wars scenario. My favorite policy debates were always econ debates because of the technical nuance. •Go as fast as you want, just make sure if your opponent calls clear or slow you listen because if they read theory or a K because you didnt slow down or speak more clearly I will most likely vote you down. •I am not a point fairy, I tend to hover in the 26-28 range, if you want to get a 30, either deliver a great performance or be able to make me laugh in round, I will reward good humor highly.


Alice Hoover

Be nice or your speaker points perish, a good pun gets you 30 speaks (no, puns do not counteract being mean). Do what you want; Ill weigh the round how you tell me and all positions are pretty equal in my mind as long as they are probably. Im more likely to vote on a probable conventional war scenario that kills 50 people than a nuke war scenario. Speed: Im decent on speed, but dont stress, I will clear or slow you if I cant keep up. While I dont mind if you go fast, dont be a jerk to the other team, slow down at least a bit. Also, dont abuse clears. Use them when needed and Ill do my best to protect both teams. For example, if one team is all speed and the other is a fair bit slower, yall should try and meet in the middle so we can have a good debate. DAs/Plans/ADs: Keep them organized and well explained and Ill be happy. I dont have a huge preference for the style; Im just as likely to vote on a kritical advantage and I am to vote on a heg disad. My one qualm is, if youre reading politics, make sure the link is clear and the specific scenario is explained well in your first speech. I dislike when I dont know who the lynchpin of the politics scenario is until the member speech and dislike when the reason X politician will dislike something is “just cuz. Ks: I like Ks but prefer them to be well explained. Dont just throw out a name, explain the line of analysis. For K affs I prefer if you either are topical or just reject the topic; no point trying to shoehorn arguments about why youre kinda upholding the res if you arent. For a neg K, make sure the links are solid and unique to whatever the aff team reads. Dont just say, you use the USFG and so bleh!-give reasons that their plan is uniquely problematic. Theory/Fw: Condo is bad, thats just the truth. I like theory and Framework, but I dont like pointless theory. So if you read a theory on no neg fiat, it wont have much weight for me. However, if the theory position seems like it does have some bearing in the debate, Im willing to weigh it how yall debate it. Framework can be a good way to answer the K and does not always have to be prison guarding. I prefer if the framework shell you read has some weighing comparison to the K framework. Speaker points: Simple rules, I will try to be very gracious in my speaker points, but if you are rude or mean to the other team or your partner, I wont hesitate to give you 11 speaker points. A little bit of sas is fine and all, but the animosity in debate rounds usually gets out of hand and devolves into pettiness. Debate should be enjoyable, were all smart people and can win arguments without being buttheads about it. I also love puns, so if you make a pun, you almost guarantee yourself 30 speaker points (and no, being a jerk, then making puns does not make your speaker points better). If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Joe Allen

Generic information:

I do not wish to impose my views on the activity through my ballot. What I mean by this is that I think you certainly ought to debate in front of me in a fashion consistent with what you're best at--and allow me to adapt to you. I fundamentally believe that nearly all aspects of debate are negotiable, and certainly a multitude of different kinds of strategies can be fun to watch and fun to do. I believe those who insist on debate conforming to their view of the activity are narcissistic and don't get the point. I also think that the notion of the inevitability of intervention does not remove the responsibility to evaluate issues in a fair and honest fashion--in fact it strengthens this obligation. I will do my best to make decisions which are not informed by my predispositions but rather a serious evaluation of the issues as they were debated. My burden of striving for non-intervention will not prevent me from passing judgment. This ought not be confused. I will make a decision based on judgments I make (clearly) but I will not be dishonest about the objective flow of the debate in order to cater to my own debate ideals. I am a debate nihilist (you might say), I begin with the assumption that what you can do in debate is only limited by your imaginative capacity to justify your argumentative choices. There is no strategy that I didn't try as a debater--who would I be to tell you that you can't do the same?


Specific information:

Despite my strong belief that our predispositions should have no effect on the outcome of our judging, I must admit that I obviously do have predispositions about this activity. I've spent enough time doing it, and even more time thinking about it, that I am not a clean slate. I'll put my slate away for the sake of fair deliberation, but here's a glimpse of what my slate looks like.


Topicality: Unless argued persuasively otherwise, I default to assuming that topicality is both a voting issue and an issue of competing interpretations. I truly believe that affirmatives who make a good faith effort to support the topic (even if for a very abstract or nuanced reason) are the most strategic. Even some of the most strategic critical affirmatives I've ever seen affirmed the topic. I suppose a good general rule is that if you're not trying to be topical, you should have an exceptionally good reason why. I have never heard a definition of reasonability in my entire life that made more sense to me than competing interpretations (doesn't mean I'm not open to the possibility). I believe that the specificity of the standards and how effectively they are compared (T debates are impact debates like everything else) is often the decider.


Counterplans: I tend to assume that counterplans are a very useful strategy available to the negative. I am not predisposed against conditional counterplans, and frankly I'm also not predisposed against multiple conditional counterplans. Do not mistake this with an unwillingness to vote for condo bad if you cant justify your instance of condo. Surprisingly perhaps, I also am not strongly against counterplans which don't compete textually (particularly if they are authentically within the scope of the topic). The reason I think textual competition is usually a good limit is precisely because most counterplans which textual competition limits out are those which detract from topic education. If yours doesn't and you can justify your counterplan you're fine. If you say there's a textually competitive version of the counterplan I will know if you're lying (just so you know). It's really all about what you can justify. The quality of your solvency evidence is generally a great indicator of how smart your counterplan is.


The kritik: We shouldn't be afraid to have kritik debates because they serve as a way of making sure that our assumptions can be justified. That being said, our assumptions can be justified, and I appreciate people who do in fact engage critical teams and make an effort to defend the perspectives which inform their arguments. A few uphill battles critical debaters might find with me are that I often think critical framework arguments do not particularly limit the affirmative very much. There is no part of debate that isn't already a performance, and there is no part of debate that isn't already representational. It's about the desirability of those representations. Another roadblock critical debaters might find with me is that I have no problem signing off on topicality or evaluating the framework debate against the kritik. I'm not opposed to framework if you cannot justify the way your kritik is framed. If they're responsible for their representations why aren't you? I don't like the fact that kritik debaters uniquely have to have a sheet of paper justifying the existence of their argument right out of the gates, but if you cannot win that your argument should exist I think you should find a different argument. I also am a sucker for sophisticated and clever permutation arguments. Perhaps this is why I think the best kritiks are topic specific and turn the case.


Theory: I think theory serves a vital role in regulating debate trends, like a filter. Sometimes a strategy is a winning one precisely because it's not crafted in a fashion that is fair. Sometimes a strategy is antithetical to education to a degree that merits its total exclusion. Again, these questions are answered best through a framework of competing interpretations where sophisticated impact calculus happens at the level of the standards debate. If you can justify it, you can do it. Theory debates are one of the best tests of whether or not you can justify your given strategy. For this reason, I take it seriously and think it should be evaluated first. I will not evaluate it first only in the circumstance where you lose the priority debate (which sometimes happens). My default assumption is that fairness and education are both good, and keep the activity alive. This does not, however, remove the obligation to demonstrate why something is theoretically objectionable to a degree that merits the ballot. I also tend to fall further on the potential abuse side of the spectrum than the real abuse side. Just because you don't perform abuse (in the sense of how much of their strategy has in-round utility) does not automatically mean the way your strategy is positioned is suddenly educational or fair.


Disads: A well argued disad can be a beautiful thing. If you can't outweigh the case, read a counterplan that pairs well with your disad. If you want, read two. You could also surprise me and debate the case effectively (I will appreciate this). I do not dislike politics disads, but those which do not have any real link specificity annoy me a bit. Sometimes the politics disad is the right choice, sometimes it's not. Depends on the topic. The greater the specificity and applicability the happier I'll be. I love a well crafted topic disad. If your disad authentically turns the case, then I'll probably be inclined to thinking it's a good disad. Be prepared to debate all levels of disad uniqueness (not just top level) including link uniqueness, internal link uniqueness, and impact uniqueness.


Things that really annoy me:

1) Process disads. If your disad relies on the process of the plan passing, rather than the outcome of the plan, I will not like your disad. If you say things like "the plan will be horse-traded for x" or "the plan will move x off the docket" I will be utterly dissatisfied with your lazy and bankrupt disad. To be clear, it is the job of the aff to identify how absurd your disad is. I will not hesitate to vote for shitty process disads if the aff fails to correctly answer them, but it'll make me feel bad about myself and the state of debate.

2) Theory debates which begin in the PMR. Sometimes really egregious things happen in the block. In this case, I may very well vote for theory which begins in the PMR. Example: the negative splits the block. However, I am more often than not wildly uncomfortable with theory debates in which the negative has no opportunity to contest your argument. The best example I can think of here is that the MOC should take a question. My intuition is that you get the last word, and so you should have the upper hand in dealing with these situations without putting me in an awkward position. This is one of my least favorite debate arguments.

3) Spec arguments or T arguments which have no resolutional basis. If your spec argument has no basis in the topic, or requires the aff to be extra-topical in order to meet your interpretation, I will think it's a bad argument. E-spec is a good example of such an argument. This is especially egregious in instances in which T arguments have no basis in the topic since T is supposed to be explicitly premised on the language of the topic.

4) Floating pics. Alternatives should not include anything resembling the plan. They should especially not literally include the plan text. If they do, and you do not win the debate on perm: do the alternative with appropriate theory arguments about how nonsense it is for the alt to include the plan I will be pretty sad. The negative should have to make alt solvency arguments in order to demonstrate why the alt solves the aff, and the aff should be entitled to argue that the aff is a disad to the alt. If the alternative does not enable this debate to occur, it's more than likely theoretically bankrupt. I would hope that the aff would identify this. A good question to ask the LOC when they read their alternative is whether or not the plan can pass in a world of the alternative.

5) Incorrect permutation strategies. For every silly nonsense counterplan which shouldn't exist, there is a solid permutation text which makes such counterplan look pretty silly. I really appreciate it when the aff correctly identifies the appropriate permutation, and conversely, I really don't like it when the aff fails to problematize bad counterplans with the appropriate permutation. I am not principally opposed to severance or intrinsic permutations, but appropriate applications of them have a high degree of difficulty. Theoretical objections to them are a reason to reject the permutation, not the team, unless argued persuasively otherwise.

6) Failure to offer impact comparison. It is up to you to ensure that the debate is resolvable in a way that doesn't require me to compare things myself. I will always decide debates based on what occurs in your own words. I will not put the pieces together for you. I will not assume your position to be a priority if you fail to demonstrate this for me. Impact calculus is the centerpiece of how you can accomplish this.

7) Failure to identify things which are theoretically bankrupt. What bothers me the most about asinine strategies is when I'm put in a position to have to endorse them with my ballot, and I absolutely will if you fail to allow me to do otherwise. It is your responsibility to filter out irresponsible debate trends with sound objections to them. Take your responsibility seriously so that I don't have to make decisions which I know endorse things which are not good for the activity.


Summary observations: I suppose my views on the ideal strategy are almost always informed by the topic. The best K's turn the case and are topic specific, and the same can be said for the best disads. The best counterplans have very quality solvency evidence and a sensible net benefit. The best critical affs affirm the topic and discuss issues pertinent to the topic literature. There's always a good strategic option for a given topic, and it's up to you to find it. I will not be a hindrance to that process. Whatever you think is situationally best given the strengths of yourself and your opponent should be what you go with. I'll adapt to you. You'll probably debate better when you do what you're best at. Almost all debate is fun, it should be a question of what's the most situationally strategic option.


One last thing: I am a very expressive judge. 9 times out of 10 you will know what I think of your argument. I will shake my head at you if you say something really absurd, and I will nod for arguments that I agree with. I can't really control this very well (I've tried). On very very rare occasions I will verbally declare an argument to be silly during the debate. Do not take me too seriously. I vote for silly arguments when I would be intervening otherwise, and not all smart arguments are round winners. If it's very difficult for you to deal with non-verbal reactions to your arguments or this is very distracting for you, don't pref me. I literally could not possibly be less interested where I end up on your pref sheet.



Jake Landsberg

TL;DR version: Tabs judge, speed is fine. Debate is yours, do what you want.


Long Version:

Debaters should feel free to do whatever they want in a round. As a debater I did everything from traditional CPs/DAs to Ks and performance debate. As a judge I feel debaters should be allowed to do the same. While I am comfortable with anything be read in front of me, you have to be prepared to defend it. Speed is fine. Theory is fine, just explain how it fits within the round, is it a priori, a reason to reject the team, etc.


Impacts must be flushed out and weighed against each other to know how to vote. An improbable scenario extinction scenario versus a small very probable impact should be explained as to why I should vote one over the other, if I have to decide that for the debaters it usually makes everyone unhappy.


Again, feel free to do whatever. Just be kind to each other and warranted with your arguments. Sports and political jokes are welcomed.


Alyson Escalante

I competed in NPDA/NPTE parli debate for four years, two at El Camino College and two at the University of Oregon. As such, I've debate both on communication centric local circuits as well as national level competative circuit debate. The round is yours, and you are free to do what you wish with it. I will do my best to accomodate the type of round the teams involved decide to have. I do have some preferances but I will attempt to minimize the impact they have. This paradigm is meant to provide transparency for how I understand and aproach debate so that you can understand the biases and preferences which inform my evaluation of a round. Theory: I generally have a middle of the line threshold on most theory positions and I don't have particularly strong opinions on most of the debates about ideal pedagogy, except in relation to topicality. In general my threashold is lowest for questions of topicality and I tend to prefer that the affirmative team defend the resolution. I am willing to judge rounds where that is not the case, but the affirmative should have ample justifications for their decision and I tend to be sympathetic to topicality/framework. In terms of theoretical questions regarding counterplan status, I default towards understanding conditionality to be positive, but I am more than happy to vote on a condo bad shell which is not properly adressed. Critiques: I'm fairly comfortable with most literature bases for the main popular critiques on the national circuit. While I enjoy critique debate, I generally find that it massively simplifies incredibly complex literature. As such, I will reward debaters clearly well versed in, and understanding the nuance of their literature, with speaker points. In general I have a better understanding of more traditional political critiques of capitalism, the state, or other objective political institutions. I am also fairly comfortable with my understanding of criticisms grounded in broader continental philosophy. I am less well read in the fields of critical race theory and critical legal studies so if you want to read positions grounded in this literature please be sure to explain terminology and concepts so I can understand their function in the round. "Identity politics": I don't really like the term identity politics but it seems to be the term the circuit has settled on so here we are. Anyway, I generally find these rounds dificult to judge when not provided with a clear framework for how I am supposed to engage the round. If you want to read these kinds of arguments you should answer a few questions for me. What is my role in this round? Am I here as an objective observer flowing the round or should my social location and identity effect my interaction with the arguments being made? Should I stick to a logocentric understanding of the flow as an objective measure of the round, or should I evaluate without emphasizing the flow? If you address these sorts of questions you will have a significantly easier time winning my ballot. If you do not give me a paradigm to evaluate the round I will default to the flow, which I often find is insufficient for evaluating the affective and personal aspects of these rounds. Just tell me what you prefer. Disads: I probably prefer plan versus disad debate the most. I'm not particularly opposed to any particular disadvantages and I generally find that the more generic disads such as politics, hegemony, business confidence, or other generics are a really interesting debate when a team goes above and beyond in researching these positions and understanding the nuances of the story they are telling. If you have any questions not addressed here please feel free to ask me before round.



Mike Baum


Former NPDA competitor, current high school coach. Limited experience judging NPDA and BP. A decade-plus removed from the circuit; its mores may now be Martian to me, but if I am an alien in a strange land, so be it.


My philosophy, in three points:


1. The resolution is sacrosanct. Fair interpretations are up for debate... but we don't always like those kinds of debates.


2. Clearly signposted structure matters. Slow, comprehensible, audience-friendly, relatively accessible/jargon-free speech matters (a lot). Style matters (a little). But dominating logic, when communicated effectively, is decisive.


3. I have many preferences and pre-conceived notions. I won't tell you what they are. I won't necessarily hold them against you, either. I will openly accept your arguments as they are. I expect you to spell out links and impacts. It would be helpful if you tell me why you win with clear comparative analysis. If you don't... I'd rather not intervene, but in muddled debates judges unfortunately sometimes have to.


Tony Penders


I have been associated with the event since the Carter administration, and really think it is a joy. I started out as a basic policy maker, have veered into more critical arenas in the last fifteen years, try to be open to anything, try to have as few preconceived notions as possible, and flow more slowly than you wish I did.


I guess, if I have any weird predilections, its that I really like evidence. I like comparison of sources, quotations, conclusions based upon evidence and upon qualitative and quantitative assessment of policy. Given pretty much any scenario, I will be more likely to believe an argument with a debater that quotes a source, discloses the warrant, and then makes the impacted conclusion to that argument.


I will, and have, voted on topicality. In fact, I think in an event with limited prep time, the concepts of predicability, fairness and division of ground become pretty significant.


From here on out, I am not sure what else to say; I over-value good attacks on harm; I have very high standards on written plans. I really love solvency attacks that are specific; I really enjoy well written political disads . . .


Someone once accused me, after a particularly good round, of being a games-player that is someone who has no real definable paradigm but votes for the team that s/he thinks was the better debate team that round and then tries to justify it after the round. Hmmm. I have pondered that description for many years, as it was meant as an insult. But after early twenty years, I guess I kinda wonder if he was right. I just like to watch the round, see how it goes and vote for who I think wins. And, it does not seem that there are rigid rules to guide my thinking in this, or pretty much any pursuit.


So, I can vote for topicality one round, a disad/CP the next, and a language critique in the third. I have to admit honestly to not knowing whether my lack of firm theoretical ideology is a good thing or a bad thing. You can always ask if will buy an argument, but in consecutive rounds two years ago I voted for a states counterplan and then an alt/k that wanted to consult with the oil. So, yes, I will buy your argument, if I think you win it and the round has evolved in such a way that the other team is not making a better one . . .


I really have so much respect for anyone who takes five minutes or five years to debate. This is by no means an easy place to come play. But when you do it, I already think the best of you. I hope that you always know that.


Nate Blanchard

I entered the world of collegiate debate relatively recently, totaling around 2 years of experience in NPDA and minor experience in IPDA. Therefore, I am policy/theory orientated. I welcome all argument methods to foster the most innovative, creative, and interesting debate rounds. This includes but is not limited to: topicalities, counter-plans, PICs (though I will weigh towards affirmative if they call out PIC as abusive because it is), and kritiks. I welcome extensive signposting and clearly communicated movements from framework down to, say, individual impacts of an advantage. Overall, though, I weigh strategy and theory over the beauty of your speaking style. Please be reasonably mindful of your opponent if you want to speed.