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Re: Debaters as Judges
> I think Derek Shaffer's suggestion to use undergrad judges on panels
> during elims is an excellent one. In all seriousness, I think
> tournament directors should consider immediate incorporation of this
I am very willing to consider the use of UG judges in novice and/or
beginner rounds. For the last five years we have used varsity debaters
as critics in the beginner division at our fall tournament (in prelims as
well). In general, our experience has been very positive. On occasion,
varsity debaters become unintentially interventionist by applying the
standards of rejoinder to beginner rounds that we use in open rounds.
Oddly enough, a standard that is blindly non-interventionist in terms of
dropped or unanswered responses or arguments that are incorrectly labeled
(e.g. T arguments that aren't labeled voters, etc.) can become the most
perverse form of intervention in beginner rounds. But this is rare.
Varsity students typically offer humane, valuable critiques and
responsible decisions in the rounds. They also learn valuable lessons
about how unclear debate rounds can sound on the other side of the room.
As a result they become better debaters in their own rounds. For this
reason, I encourage collegiate debaters to judge high school tournaments,
practice rounds in our debate classes and in tournament settings that
provide the opportunity.
Despite this support for the skills of our varsity students, I have
significant reservations about having them judge in the same division
they would otherwise compete in. I have no doubt that current students
may outflow me (though I still do fairly well - I DO endeavor to flow
tags, cites and key evidence claims); I have no doubt that their knowledge
of the topic exceeds mine; I often have no doubt that their knowledge of
the activity exceeds mine (iron sharpens iron - there is no suitable
substitute for learning kritik theory than trying to debate it), I don't
even doubt that their intellectual acumen exceeds mine. But I still
bring something important to the debate round - personal and competitive
distance, the experience of several thousand prior rounds, and decreased
pressure to be true to anyone other than myself. There has been
significant discussion of hack judging, cliques, and other forms of
influence that decrease the objectivity of the decision. I don't think
that it is nearly the problem that we imagine - even though I might be
tempted to grumble as loudly as anyone when MY students lose (you should
have heard me 25 years ago when I lost). There are pressures that must
be resisted every time I pick up the ballot however.
I am not certain it is fair to impose these pressures on our students -
the challenge of judging a team that eliminated you from the tournament
on decision you didn't agree with, the pressure of judging and
potentially voting against the team that is considered the "best", the
pressure to conform to styles of judging that one's peers consider
appropriate, the challenges of evaluating the performance of teams that
you routinely socialize with. I need to be clear. It is NOT that I
would distrust students to try to be fair, dispassionate critics. It is
rather that I appreciate the difficulty of the challenge and believe that
both the participants in the round and the critics would be better served
by creating more professional distance.
It is hard enough for our graduate students in their first year out. I
have watched graduate students absolutely agonize over decisions, feeling
the weight of the entire community focused on their ballot. I appreciate
their integrity and also believe that I understand (and perhaps even
remember) their dilemmas. It is hard to judge people you've debated, to
serve on panels with people you've idolized (or abhorred), to remember
that your decision impacts the participants the same way that the
decisions of others recently impacted you. But graduate students are
being paid and trained to make the professional transition. It is a
transition that is crucial to the continued health of our profession.
I genuinely feel that we would be better served by increasing the distance
between participant and critic rather than decreasing it. I am NOT
saying we need lay judges or outside critics. I am saying that DOF's
need to take seriously their role of staying engaged as critics rather
than turning all of the duties over to GA's. I am also saying that ALL
critics need to create in their own minds the appropriate professional
distance from the rounds we judge. I believe that this is way in which
tabula rasa becomes most appropriate.
Just my thoughts,
> In less than all seriousness, I'd like to add to Derek's list of
> justifications for such an endeavor:
> 1. It would help keep Korcok and I off panels, so that we would
> have more time to discuss our philosophical differences.
> 2. Keeps my debaters out of my hair after they drop in octos.
> 3. Allows me more of an opportunity to beg out of judging, so that I
> can listen to my favorite shortwave station, R. Pyongyang.
> 4. Allows me more time to work on my original screenplay, "Bear's
> 5. Gives me more of an opportunity to look for where Coburn-Palo is
> and most importantly,
> 6. Provides a means of busting up those elim Magic tournaments.
> (sorry, Menzies....)
> Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! (I can't make up my mind between
> Bill Clinton and Jesse Helms - they seem so similar to me....), 8-0>,
> (BTW, despite several interesting backchannels about the hidden
> numerology in the 8-0> symbol, it's just another fuckin' smiley face)
> Michael "Bear" Bryant Internet: email@example.com
> Director of Forensics Home: 801-399-4253
> Department of Communication Office: 801-626-7186
> Weber State University Fax: 801-626-7975
> Ogden, UT 84408-1605 AOL: MWBRYANT@AOL.COM
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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