Equality in Forensics publishes a blog to give a platform to debaters, coaches, and students to write commentary on speech & debate. All pieces of writing are reflective of the opinions of the individual writers unless otherwise stated.

POs Among Us

"The presiding officers are the only competitors whose ranks do not fluctuate... [they are] nearly guaranteed to wind up either winning, or nearly winning"

Athena Tian | 2/10/23

The Importance of Accountability in Speech and Debate

"Despite attempts to keep community members in check, why do participants continue to feel discrimination, inequality, violence, and prejudice?"

Athena Tian | 1/1/23

Classical Small School Debater Tips

"Small school debating can feel kind of impossible sometimes, but there is always a silver lining and alternative methods to get things done."

Sid Thandassery | 11/4/22

Facing Your Fears: Limited Preparation Events

"The experience is eerily similar to writing a DBQ, except you have to find your own documents, you don't have the space of writing a word to formulate your ideas, and there's not even close to enough time to construct anything more than a basic outline."

Valor Lekas | 10/7/22

Congress is Boring

"Debate became more technical, leaving behind its roots in performance, advocacy, and roleplay, and refocusing on a more detailed argument about the benefits and negatives of the legislation. Congress is trying to be something it's not."

Nicholas Ostheimer | 9/16/22

Make Hybrid WSD Debate Teams the Norm

"WSD's unique format makes it a unique challenge for leagues and debate organizations to facilitate. Instead of ignoring this nuance and limiting teams to a single school, leagues and organizations should examine different ways to allow and foster hybrid teams."

Nicholas Ostheimer | 9/2/22

Language Based Privilege In Speech and Debate

"ESL students face limitations even in this aspect as fast-paced interp scripts and the increased popularity of progressive debate and spreading severely hinder their ability to interpret their competitors words."

Athena Tian | 8/12/22

The Need for Epistemic Humility in High School Debate

"Adding a generally leftist sphere to arrogant high school students is likely to produce an uncompromising, ‘holier-than-thou’ paradigm where debaters and judges alike reject the meager possibility of alternative moral standing."

Sungjoo Yoon | 7/30/22

A Balancing Act

"Overall, I feel like this might be a little scattered, but the idea is quite simple: just make sure to balance your life because you don’t want to lose out on some of the feelings or experiences that influence and shape the rest of your life."

Sid Thandassery | 7/9/22

Leveling the Field

"With all the other commitments during the school year—like sports, social life, and the AP Physics test on Friday—finding time to properly practice, not necessarily prepare but to practice, is practically an impossibility. The summer, however, with its long, slow, hot days, is the perfect time."

Luqmaan Thein | 6/18/22

How To Train A Youngling

"This debate taught me a lesson that everyone should know, the best way to learn is to fall into the deep end. Give your novices difficult rounds, because those allow them to gather more exposure and gain a greater amount of learning"

Rishit Pradhan | 6/10/22

Student Congress In Virtual Debate

"But in an in-person tournament, more than half of those would have to look down to reference their legal pad at some point. In reality, a completely extemporaneous delivery for most debaters takes years to master, or if not, it takes practice, practice, and more practice."

Luqmaan Thein | 5/20/22

Trix Are NOT For Kids

"Tricks are usually obviously wrong, no one genuinely thinks that we should evaluate the debate after the 1AC, so when a debater loses to a trick it is frustrating. Unfortunately, this isn't a good reason to dislike the style of argumentation"

Liam Nyberg | 4/29/22

The Growing Need for Evidence Ethics in Debate

"In a time where the scope of available evidence proliferates, it is becoming increasingly difficult for theory shells to corroborate theory shells with explicit proof of evidence misuse."

Adit Pakala | 4/9/22

The Problem With Performance Activism in Debate

"First, staff members should always be actively involved in an activist organization and be expected to contribute meaningfully. Second, an activist organization should try to involve its community because it creates a positive feedback loop that expedites change. Finally, an organization’s activities should focus on leading palpable change rather than just spreading awareness."

Adit Pakala | 3/25/22

Recurring Elitism in Debate

"No matter which line of debate it is, students will always use the low income as the a priori for all of their arguments. But once everything is said and done, after the prep has all been written, and the tournament has finished, they’ll close their thousand dollar MacBooks, move to their luxurious living rooms, watch Disney+ on their ninety-nine inch TV’s and go back to living their lavish lifestyles. This is what elitism looks like within debate. "

Eshaam Bhattad | 3/18/22

Speech & Debate Should Stay Online

"From simple local tournaments to massive championships on the national circuit, including Harvard's annual tournament, speech and debate has shifted dramatically to a digital format. These tournaments have enjoyed widespread success and received constant criticism.."

Nicholas Ostheimer | 2/24/22

Fix TOC's Congress Bid System

"Do you have a bid tournament within driving distance? If you need to take a plane or stay in a hotel room, will your school pay for it?"

Nicholas Ostheimer | 4/1/23

Tournament Group Chats are Harmful for Congress

"The people involved in this conversation are overwhelmingly active natcirc debaters, as others scramble to adapt to the tumultuous and uncertain discussion."

Nicholas Ostheimer | 1/25/23

Building from the Ground Up

"For small-school debaters, it can be incredibly hard to keep a speech and debate program afloat. To keep the torch alight, it is important to build a program that can outlast you."

Luqmaan Thein | 12/24/22

Homogenization in Speech and Debate

"While there were once a variety of unique ways through which a competitor could convince their judges to give them favorable ranks and scores, the variation of techniques which competitors use in competition are decreasing steadily. "

Athena Tian | 10/28/22

The Disproportionate Power Held by Team Captains and Coaches

"The constant use of terminology such as “my novice” or “my middle schoolers” represents a deep and virtually inextinguishable tradition that is rooted within the speech and debate community."

Athena Tian | 10/3/22

The Impact of Attire in Speech And Debate

"For humans the formation of a first impression occurs rapidly, but the little information that a person needs to form an initial judgment can have long-lasting effects on other attitudes, expectations, and behaviors that a person demonstrates to another"

Athena Tian | 9/10/22

How Barriers Continue Online

"However, despite the relatively heightened accessibility of debate competitions, camps, and knowledge seminars in the post-COVID virtual setting, speech and debate as an activity remains elitist"

Athena Tian | 8/21/22

What's The Deal With Big Questions

"Debate is supposed to encourage free thinking, questioning authority, fighting for what is fair and just, and analyzing situations before exercising judgment on them. Big Questions inherently defies these goals."

Hannah Tuttle | 8/5/22

Thwarting Sexism in Debate

"As a competitor, I have been exposed to jarring commentary about topics irrelevant to my skills as a debater. Thoughts about appearance, speaking habits, and manner can be the most influential when deciding on an inexperienced judge."

Lorelei Bailey | 7/22/22

Branching Out

"Branching out will also maximize your forensics experience. From trying multiple events, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the art of speaking that will take you far in life."

Luqmaan Thein | 7/16/22

Discussing Mental Health

"Considering mental health and how we interact with mentally ill people is a critical part of advocating for these groups. As debaters, we should all strive to do our best to be aware and conscious of our audiences and all groups of people."

Hannah Tuttle | 7/1/22

Promoting Equity, Inclusion, and Community

"Coaches and school administrators have a vital role to play... Sharing resources, they can become the agents of a change that seeks to democratize an activity that can become very elitist and exclusive, and that pushes for consistent improvement amongst competitors."

Luqmaan Thein | 5/28/22

In Defense of Progressive Debate

"I genuinely believe that progressive debate is the most educational form of debate there is. This is because progressive debate allows you to get more into your speech, read different types of arguments, and approach the topic from all different points and from different thought processes."

Sid Thandassery | 5/13/22

The Art of Adaptation

"The ballot is in the hands of the judges, and you must be willing to conform to said judges if you want the ballot. In many cases, debaters shove down Ks and other forms of difficult-to-understand arguments down the throats of lay judges at circuit tournaments and end up being surprised when they receive an L 26."

Rishit Pradhan | 5/6/22

Stop Debating 'Virtually'

"Novices will gain nothing from debating ‘virtually’, which is to imply the exhaustive usage of word processors in debate. Rather, to become not only a successful and talented debater, but also a successful and talented person later on in life, it is important that they use legal pads instead."

Luqmaan Thein | 4/15/22

The 'Amendment' Debater

"Student Congress... seeks to develop dynamism and spontaneity while cultivating critical thinking abilities and nuanced viewpoints. This is why Congress is so unique, and this is also why the continued existence of amendments is so critical to the future of the event."

Luqmaan Thein | 4/1/22

Why Can Lay Judges Be A Problem

"Who do we all hate the most? “Lay” judges! They show up everywhere these days in every single tournament. It wasn’t as bad before COVID struck and there were usually 1 or 2 lay judges per tournament. Now that the tournaments are online, every single team asks their parents to judge, and we the debaters feel their wrath."

Chetan Yenigalla | 3/11/22

Progressive Debate Is Killing Forensics

"...this is performative advocacy that is disingenuous because after the round is over and the debater closes their laptop, they’ll continue their day upholding white supremacy and capitalism."

Karam Weigert | 2/24/22

The Equality in Forensics blog is written by students, educators, and coaches from across the world that cover hot topics in the world of speech and debate. 

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