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.

Anyone is welcome to submit articles for consideration to be published on our blog!

Our Inherent Privilege

Mia Tschan | 5/15/24

"’s not enough just to recognize our privilege. We have an obligation to help pay that forward to advance equity in other schools throughout our communities. "

Un-Original Oratory

Mia Tschan | 5/1/24

"Ten minutes to persuade a person to change their entire worldview? That’s absurd! Even so, that’s what a good oratory can accomplish. Champions aren’t made in between the lines—they’re made on the edges. Innovate, experiment, but most importantly, remember to have fun—and please, don’t write an un-Original Oratory!"

A Girl Debater's Guide to Keep Going

Natalyia Kopack | 4/17/24

"To the female debaters across the nation struggling because of the obstacles we face, keep going. You’re more than what other people think. You have the capability to excel and you deserve to feel on top of the world. Keep on debating."

Speech Quality Over Speaking Quantity

Matthew Klacik | 3/27/24

 "It is not the duty of the Chamber to ensure each person will speak an equal number of times, but rather it is the duty of the Chamber to ensure each person gets the equal opportunity to speak on a variety of bills."

ChatGPT, is This Real?

Abraham Zhang| 3/13/24

"As the speech and debate community watches artificial intelligence branch into more and more aspects of life, let’s preserve the best parts of extemp — the originality, the personality, and the integrity of speakers by keeping it out of our competitions."

Dying Debate Programs and How to Save Them

John Mueger | 2/28/24

"The issue can stem from the schools themselves, when coaches and program leadership do not correctly promote debate in schools. The issue of growing debate does not start on the circuit, but in schools."

"Through the heat of forensics, it is easy to forget the underlying purpose of the activity: to have meaningful discourse and function as a decision making process. Too often, it is misconstrued as a means to an end, the end being a trophy, a title, or simply pride."

Docket Group Chats Are Still Harmful for Congress

Nicholas Ostheimer | 1/31/24

"Too often, these GCs are really just a docket discussion among a handful of active, vocal, and well-connected debaters looking out for their own best interests."

Extempers: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Anonymous Publication | 1/3/24

"I was able to compete at NSDA Nationals only through pressure-washing driveways until we had the money to get to Arizona, where we had a relative willing to save us the hotel and car fees."

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Bring Back the Illinois State Tournament: Inequities in State Circuits

CJ Getting | 12/6/23

"The lack of just 3 schools at the State tournament took away the opportunity that sparked my continued commitment to debate for the remaining 55."

United We Stand, Divided We Fall: The Small State Conundrum

Brandon Anderson | 11/22/23

"When we are divided in our pursuit to gatekeep resources from one another, small states fall off the map. However, when small states and districts are united together to foster improvement, we forge the path to stand on the final stage."

What does AI mean for Equity in Debate?

Santiago Doménech | 11/8/23

"With everyone taking sides, debate has been slow in choosing whether to allow AI or not. Debate is no exception to the impacts of AI, and the crucial point to answer now is whether these tools will have a positive or negative impact in shaping our discussions."

Do It For the College App!

Nicholas Ostheimer | 10/11/23

"Being conscious of problems in society, in your community, or in the debate space is not the same thing as working to solve them. As much as everyone has to take care of their interests, I truly believe we all have a duty to make the world a better place."

A Call to Action: Idaho's Proposed Elimination of Entry Caps in Debate

Cooper Brody | 9/27/23

"To be clear, I advocate for getting rid of all tournament caps. But the new team-based cap that is being proposed makes the competitive landscape in Idaho even worse."

Pink Suits and Laughs: 

Why Women Quit Debate

Jordyn Rubman | 9/13/23

"Far too often I enter a round to see my male opponents smile and whisper to each other that this will be an easy round."

A Glimpse Into the FCDI

AmandaLesly Miranda | 8/30/23

"In FCDI’s first year, Florida added 59 active teams in 30 different school districts across the state. In its second year, the program has grown by over 100 teams in 48 school districts for the 2021-2022 school year."

Others' Trauma is Not Your Trophy

Owen Casey | 8/16/23

"If you can not serve justice to those that you are talking about as if they are right in front of you, you have no right to put their name in your mouth."

POs Among Us

Athena Tian | 2/10/23

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

The Importance of Accountability in Speech and Debate

Athena Tian | 1/1/23

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

Classical Small School Debater Tips

Sid Thandassery | 11/4/22

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

Facing Your Fears: Limited Preparation Events

Valor Lekas | 10/7/22

"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."

Congress is Boring

Nicholas Ostheimer | 9/16/22

"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."

Make Hybrid WSD Debate Teams the Norm

Nicholas Ostheimer | 9/2/22

"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."

Language Based Privilege In Speech and Debate

Athena Tian | 8/12/22

"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."

The Need for Epistemic Humility in High School Debate

Sungjoo Yoon | 7/30/22

"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."

A Balancing Act

Sid Thandassery | 7/9/22

"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."

Promoting Equity, Inclusion, and Community

Luqmaan Thein | 5/28/22

"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."

In Defense of Progressive Debate

Sid Thandassery | 5/13/22

"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."

The Growing Need for Evidence Ethics in Debate

Adit Pakala | 4/9/22

"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."

The Problem With Performance Activism in Debate

Adit Pakala | 3/25/22

"Finally, an organization’s activities should focus on leading palpable change rather than just spreading awareness."

Recurring Elitism in Debate

Eshaam Bhattad | 3/18/22

"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. "

Speech & Debate Should Stay Online

Nicholas Ostheimer | 2/24/22

"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.."

Keeping Impromptu, Impromptu

Nex Bortnick | 5/8/24

"To the people such as myself who do impromptu as a main event it is frustrating to be beaten out by someone who did not compete fairly. Putting in the work to create something different each time is honest and fair to everyone, but we are competing in a limited prep event against people who have done prep!"

Apparently, Policy is Dying. Now What?

Katie Gorman | 4/24/24

"Making our community more universally accessible isn’t going to be the easiest task, though. For a lot of debaters, including myself, the fact that policy requires a highly intense level of understanding actually draws me in. But for some reason, we take pride in how hard it is to learn policy without ever considering the impact"

A Plea for Creativity in Congress

Brandon Anderson | 4/3/24

"Risk is not rewarded like the NSDA Congressional Debate manual says it is... Risk is frequently penalized by judges, discouraged by coaches, and negatively highlighted by onlookers of the activity."

Debaters, Do Better.

Anonymous | 3/20/24

"These choices from our own systemic bias will bleed into how we as debaters view either side of the motion, how we choose characterization of stakeholders, and ultimately how we influence the people who listen to us. To speak and be heard is a powerful privilege, so please do use it with the utmost care."

You’ve Graduated, Now What? An Alumni Guide For Staying Involved

Brandon Anderson | 3/6/24

"Typically a few months after accepting their diploma former participants in speech and debate will ask, ‘what’s next?’ That is a question that this article seeks to explore for all three varying levels of commitment, and offers a path forward for those who don’t want their passion for the activity to become an ever-distant memory."

Spring(board) into Success: The NSDA Springboard Series

Brandon Anderson | 2/21/24

"It is crucial that we begin to bring light to the Springboard Scrimmage and give its creators their flowers for their advocacy for providing student opportunity. The question for all of us to consider is now: will we as a community use this opportunity to ‘springboard’ our peers forward?"

Our Blog: From Words to Actions

Jordyn Rubman | 2/7/24

"I believe that is something we all need in this world, to be shocked by uncomfortable truths but comforted by a solution, something we as individuals can do to make the speech and debate space better for someone else. That’s the importance of the Equality in Forensics blog."

How Burnout Causes Coaches to Quit Debate

Brandon Anderson | 1/10/24

"While coaches have spent years asking what they can do for us in the midst of their own personal stress and burnout, it is finally time for debaters to genuinely ask what we can do to support our coaches."

The Future of Congress

Jack Beery | 12/27/23

"Congress has become less and less accessible while growing even more boring, and that trend is only expected to continue if we as Congressional Debaters stand aside."

The Extemp Rule Change Won't Work. What Will?

Sasha Morel | 11/29/23

"Bad prep misinforms people. Disinformation hurts people. It’s time that as a community we step up to fight poor sourcing, one extemp speech at a time."

The Debater's Debt

AmandaLesly Miranda | 11/15/23

"I's not that we owe something to someone, or that we are owed a win or gavel, but it's the debt that we face for success."

The Adult in the Room: Teams’ Responsibility to Educate Judges

Jordyn Rubman | 10/18/23

"Judges are one of the key backbones of speech and debate, and so a strong judging community is a strong speech and debate community." 

"As a community, we should strive for a balance between progressive argumentation and topicality to make the space more inclusive for all debaters, no matter their background."

The Parliamentary Pro[cedure]

AmandaLesly Miranda | 9/20/23

"The POs of the world don’t want much; all we ask is to be acknowledged for what we do. To be respected instead of being known as the ones that don’t speak at a tournament."

Community: A Privilege Without a Price Tag

Nicholas Ostheimer | 9/6/23

"The single most important thing a debater can do, no matter their experience, background, or financial situation, is to make connections."

Applications Beyond Graduation

Valor Lekas | 8/23/23

"There's no more impressing an indefinite academic entity, no end goal for the scholastic hell you may have put yourself through these past four years. So what now?"

Fix TOC's Congress Bid System

Nicholas Ostheimer | 4/1/23

"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?"

Tournament Group Chats are Harmful for Congress

Nicholas Ostheimer | 1/25/23

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

Building from the Ground Up

Luqmaan Thein | 12/24/22

"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."

Homogenization in Speech and Debate

Athena Tian | 10/28/22

"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. "

The Disproportionate Power Held by Team Captains and Coaches

Athena Tian | 10/3/22

"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."

The Impact of Attire in Speech And Debate

Athena Tian | 9/10/22

"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"

How Barriers to Equity Continue Online

Athena Tian | 8/21/22

"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"

What's The Deal With Big Questions

Hannah Tuttle | 8/5/22

"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."

Thwarting Sexism in Debate

Lorelei Bailey | 7/22/22

"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."

Discussing Mental Health

Hannah Tuttle | 7/1/22

"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."

Student Congress In Virtual Debate

Luqmaan Thein | 5/20/22

"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."

Trix Are NOT For Kids

Liam Nyberg | 4/29/22

"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"

Stop Debating 'Virtually'

Luqmaan Thein | 4/15/22

"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."

The 'Amendment' Debater

Luqmaan Thein | 4/1/22

"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."

Why Can Lay Judges Be A Problem

Chetan Yenigalla | 3/11/22

"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."