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.
"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?"
"The people involved in this conversation are overwhelmingly active natcirc debaters, as others scramble to adapt to the tumultuous and uncertain discussion."
"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."
"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 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."
"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"
"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"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"The presiding officers are the only competitors whose ranks do not fluctuate... [they are] nearly guaranteed to wind up either winning, or nearly winning"
"Despite attempts to keep community members in check, why do participants continue to feel discrimination, inequality, violence, and prejudice?"
"Small school debating can feel kind of impossible sometimes, but there is always a silver lining and alternative methods to get things done."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Finally, an organization’s activities should focus on leading palpable change rather than just spreading awareness."
"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. "
"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.."