Melissa Spring Classic
2023 — Melissa Middle School, TX/US
Congressional Debate Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Have been involved in debate as a student, high school debater, college debater, high school coach or a college coach since the Nixon administration. Yes I actually cut Watergate cards. So pardon my smile when asked how I feel about speed etc.
Try to be Tab as much as possible. But like all judges I have some personal preferences listed below:
Is a voter, don't usually vote on it unless it is mishandled or extremely squirely. Make sure to have a violation, standard and voter in shell. Haven't previously voted on a RVI on T.
Tend to look at in round abuse.
They are fine, but make sure you understand the literature, spend a lot of quality time on the link and have a clear alternative.
Speed is ok as long as you are clear. If you are not clear, I will say "clear". Make a clear distinction between your taglines and and your cards.
Will vote you down for being rude or sarcastic. Proper decorum is a must. I will vote against sexist, racist et al. arguments.
I was fairly succinct on this paradigm, so feel free to ask me specific questions before the round. Also debate should be fun. A sense of humor is always appreciated.
(Full Update - March 2021)
*Bolded information is for skimming if you're short on time.
**Online Tournament Notes: I'll unmute and let you know if you're having audio problems. Still comfortable with speed, but ask that we slow down a couple of notches from top speed to account for lag.
Feel free to just call me Kay; pronouns are she/her. I did policy for four years at North Lamar High School and have been judging since graduating in 2017.
If you are using an email chain, my email is email@example.com. If you are flashing, I don't want the flash and I'll ask if I need a specific piece of evidence post-round.
Attaching to the flash/email isn't prep unless it's excessive. If you're moving stuff between documents or around inside the document, that should be on the clock. If anything gets excessive, I'll let you know to start prep again.
Philosophy (all events):
Debate should be about the arguments you find "best" for you. I am comfortable and equally happy in well-warranted policy debates as I am in well-warranted kritikal or performance debates. When not given another framing mechanism, I tend to default to an offense/defense paradigm. My general answer to what "should" be allowed in a round is that theory read/answered by the debaters will parse that out.
[added on 2/23/2023] - For the sake of transparency, I want to add a few caveats to the above. The more I listen to it, the more I've discovered that I have a pretty high threshold for voting on disclosure theory. Just something to be aware of if you choose to read it in front of me.
Speaker Points (all events):
I assign speaker points on strategic decision-making and organization (including signposting and coherent line-by-line). I will dock speaker points for excessive rudeness, demeaning others in the debate, and intentionally making offensive/discriminatory arguments or comments in the debate.
Easy Routes to my Ballot (policy but also everything else really):
1. You should construct the narrative you want on my ballot. This means that I don't want to have to fill in internal links, test truth claims, or filter your offense through the framing that wins the debate.
2. Consistency across speeches is important. That means I'm not voting on 2NR/2AR arguments from the 1AC/1NC that aren't in the block or 1AR. I also have a pretty high threshold for buying arguments that are shadow extended through the block/1AR.
3. I prefer evidence analysis/extension over card dumps. I very seldom find dumping cards onto the flow in the 2NC/2AC compelling if I'm not getting some articulation of how the evidence functions in the round.
I'm fine with everything from more traditional value/criterion debate to more policy-style debates, performance debates, etc. Have the debate you want and are most comfortable having. That being said, some of the less common LD arguments (skep, NIBs, etc.) are pretty out of my wheelhouse and will require some serious explanation for me to understand them enough to feel comfortable voting on them.
One other thing I like to add for LD'ers: winning framework (morality good, util good, etc.) isn't enough to win the debate if you aren't winning a piece of offense through your framing. I won't do the work of weighing your offense for you, either, so please show me how your offense connects to your framing.
PF Note (updated September 2020): I don't judge very much PF, but you all ask this question, so I'll go ahead and make it easy on you: defense isn't sticky.
Feel free to email or talk to me in person before or after the round with any questions that come up!
Competed in events through UIL, TFA, TOC, and NSDA circuits. UT Austin 2020, hook 'em horns.
You either win, you learn, or both.
2021-June 2023: Director of Speech and Debate, Callisburg High School
2018-2021: High School debate consultant
2018-2020: Policy Debate, NDT and CEDA circuits, University of Texas at Austin
2018-2020: Student Assistant, UIL State Office - Speech and Debate
2014-2018 years: Speech and Debate, Princeton High School
I think I am a gamer judge. For the most part, I treat debate as a game. You can run any argument, and it should have some claim, warrant, and impact. Do what you do best. I evaluate arguments by comparative analysis through a lens of offense/defense. I vote close to how I flow. I look for specificity, line-by-line, warrants, and contextualization. I’ll vote for any argument under any framework you explicitly put me in and win. Typically, I evaluate tech over truth. Around the neg block, I like a strategic collapsing of arguments. If you can't beat a bad argument, you should probably lose on it.
For other specific strategies and threshold questions, ask me before the round.
make offensive or rude comments. I’ll probably start deducting speaker points.
cheat, for the most part, that means don’t clip cards.
Do not unnecessarily draw out flashing/speech drop/email chains.
Speed is fine; go as fast as you want (after GT-AM 500 WPM, I may yell “clear” twice before I stop flowing).
I like catching theory args, analysis, warrant-level debating, and sometimes authors, so slow down a bit there.
“My partner will answer that in the next speech” is NOT a cx answer; if you use it, it’s minus one speak.
I'm fine with good framework debate and am okay with voting under any framework you explicitly tell me to. I think it usually comes down to winning some argument about why you have a better model of debate and/or some methodology. There should be an impact or offense to whatever standard you extend. You should probably be winning some piece of offense under that framework. Impact framing on arguments you plan on winning under the framework debate is probably helpful.
I default to competing interps. There are general parts of T. If you go for T, then explain and have an impact or an explanation to your standards (like limits and ground) and voters (like fairness and education). This usually includes warranted reasons to prefer and comparative analysis. For Aff specifically, I think it is strategic that you have some offense, pre-fiat arguments against T, a discussion of case lists, and/or neg args.
I think theory involves the rules and/or norms of debate that are challenged, changed, or presented. I think theory arguments have general components. I was never a theory hack or anything. If you go for a(n) potential/in-round abuse story, then it is probably offense, and you should give me warrants and have an impact story. Tell me how and why I should evaluate. If you run any theory (especially if it’s what you decide to go for), you probably need to warrant it and have some framing mechanism and some offense.
Note: I probably default to fairness as an internal link to education for impacts like education or fairness, but I can be convinced otherwise.
When you win the disad, you should also be winning some disad-case comparison portion of the debate (disad outweighs case, disad turns case, case solves disad, case outweighs disad, etc.).
Counterplans are cool unless you tell me otherwise. To win the counterplan, you probably need to be winning some net benefit and/or competitiveness argument. I like some comparative analysis discussions like counterplan uniquely solves, aff solvency deficit, aff solvency advocate or mechanism not key, etc.
Disregarding my knowledge, you should always assume you know your literature better than me or that I am unfamiliar with it. In high school, I read Technocracy, Myth of Model Minority, Cap, Neolib, and Security. Planless Affs I read included a Disaster Cap and a Baudrillard one. Please give me an overview for the K (try not to make it too long, like minutes on end long, because you might as well do the line-by-line at that point). I like clear explanations and warrants, like pulling specific lines from the evidence or generating links off Aff ev. There should be a discussion of how the K functions in the round, probably some framework debate, and an alt explanation (or the linear disad explanation). Be mindful of the floating PIKs.
Be specific. For example, I think that saying “Perm do both” isn’t enough. There should probably be a solvency discussion. The severance, advocacy, intrinsic, etc. could go on the top level, and/or the theory page.
I am usually pretty good with any format. If it is performance, a planless affirmative, and/or K aff, I would prefer you give me a ROB and/or ROJ. Take clear stances and advocacies, and contextualize them. You should pull warrants and provide explanations of the arguments and the method/reps/advocacy, etc.
NLHS Policy 2013-2017
UT 2017-2021 (just judging, no debate)
A&M Law 2021-
Email for chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email for contact: email@example.com
The easiest thing I can tell you about my paradigm is that I am tab. I'll vote on anything, and I essentially ran anything while I was in high school, so you're not going to lose me in running any of your favorite arguments.
Further in-depth stuff (this is primarily for policy, but can be cross-applied to LD (or PF I guess)):
When I say I'm tab that means that I will vote in any framework you give me, don't mistake that for if you win the framework you win the round (this is especially true in traditional LD). I have voted for teams that lose the framework debate, but still had better offense under the opposing framing. Therefore, you need to both win your framework and meet that framework better than the opponent to win the round. However, if you don't run a framework I default to an offense-defense paradigm where I vote on whichever team has managed to generate the most offense.
If you're baffled by a decision it is because you did not warrant. I am a stickler for warranting, especially in extensions, and if you don't extend a warrant, even over a dropped argument, then I'm not doing that work.
Like I said, I'm tab, so naturally I'm fine with/a fan of Ks. I am NOT a fan of 2NC/2NR overviews of kritikal buzzwords that do nothing to advance debate in the round. I'm not 100% read on all K literature, so if you're going to use technical terminology - define them, tell me how they relate to your alt, to the link debate, and to the aff. Line-by-line is generally much easier for me to flow and understand a K debate.
That being said, I would avoid reading one-off K in front of me. I won't vote down one-off K on face, but I find that it's not terribly strategic, and doubly so if you're the type to concede all of case by going for the one K. All of the eggs in one basket just isn't good strategy, and it's super boring to listen to.
People will talk about how you need a specific link - I'm not that type. If the aff has a good reason that you need a specific link then you should be able to provide one, but a good generic link to the topic, state, or debate will suffice without aff contest.
Stylistically I don't really care what you do. I can handle your spreading if you can handle your spreading. If you're unclear then don't spread. Furthermore, signposting is an absolute must between flows and cards. That can be as a simple as saying "next off" or "onto the K," and between cards inserting an "and." If I miss a card or argument that you didn't signpost clearly where I should've flowed it will not be evaluated, and that's on you.
Offensiveness in round is always bad, and I'll penalize any aggression appropriately depending on severity of the aggression. There are instances where you might just be ignorant which will only result in a minor speak penalty and a stern reprimanding in RFD. Above all, be polite to your opponents. You can be competitive, but don't be rude, especially in CX.
Redundancy isn't great. That means reading a bunch of repetitive cards, putting an explanation under a card that explains the card you just read, or just saying the same thing over and over. I get tired of this quickly and it does harm speaks. Card dumps seriously aren't persuasive or strategic about half the time. If you're card dumping like five new impacts onto a undercovered disad in the 2NC that's chill, but just reading like 5 uniqueness cards that all say the same thing isn't.
I evaluate speaks through strategy, not presentation. A 30 happens through really good decisions, time allocation, unique argumentation, etc. I can't tell you what exactly gets a 30, nor will I attempt to define it further decisively here, but I know it when I see it.
I don't err anything on any argument before a debate, so all theoretical objections are up for dispute. That being said, I've seen a lot of debates where people read two shells at each other (such as states bad v. good) and don't have any actual clash. If that is the ONLY sort of argumentation being put down on a theory flow before the 2NR/2AR, do not try to convince me to vote for theory because it'll end up being a wash, and I'll vote on presumption.
Speaking of presumption; I tend to vote it on it a lot because many people end up not winning anything. So in the case that there doesn’t seem to be any offense for any team I default to presumption. Most of the time for me that means neg, but if there’s an alternative advocacy on the flow then it goes aff. If you have a different model of presumption in mind - make it an argument, but otherwise that's how I vote.
Note about disclosure: I have an impressively high threshold for voting on disclosure, and there are a number of ways that debaters articulate disclosure that I find objectionable. Please do not make arguments for disclosure based on the capabilities of small/rural schools (especially if you are from a (sub)urban/large school). Moreover, please do not read interpretations that mandate your opponent post any sort of contact information on the wiki - I will not vote on this interp no matter how hard you're winning the flow.
I wouldn't say that I have a high threshold for T, I will vote on T if you win it, but you need to win each part of the T: interp, violation, standards, and voters. (Theoretically you could get me to vote on a T with just an interp, violation, and standards if you win that a stock FW is good)
The "all three branches T" is really popular right now. I'll vote on it, but it's the worst T argument. Nothing uses all three branches because that's not how government works.
I don't think you absolutely have to have either of these in the 1NC to win; if you like em, go for em, and if you don't, don't. I'm not a person who's super convinced that things have to be super specific or anything like that - generic links are fine, just try to contextualize to the aff or give a good scenario analysis.
Please, god, do not sit at the door weirdly if I'm in the room waiting for my queue to give you agency. Just walk in. I'm the judge; you are ALLOWED to come in if I'm in here.
I don't care where you sit. I don't want to shake your hand before or after the round (especially true as of March 2020).
“My partner will answer that in the next speech” is NOT a cx answer, and if you use it it’s minus 1 speak.
Same thing goes for asking questions that are prefaced with "in your own words."
This is specifically for UIL tournaments: there's no such thing as "UIL style" and most "UIL rules" aren't actually rules. Any appeal to the UIL that aren't in any UIL handbook will not be flowed and is again, -1 speak.
- I don't judge this event nearly at all, but please just select sides in such a way that pro always speaks first. I get confused when it's reversed.
- Also, there's nothing I hate more than the PF convention of sharing evidence. Please just flash entire cases.
I am a tab judge. Email for link is firstname.lastname@example.org
I am fine with anything but in terms of what I weigh with each individual argument here is how I view each of them:
K - If you run a K I want to know the specific role of the ballot and why the alt will solve for the problems manifested within the K. If the alt is just a rejection of the opposing team I am less likely to vote for your K.
T - Standards and voters in terms of the real world are how I vote on topicality. If there is ground loss but you do not talk about why that is a voting issue, I am not going to vote for it. T's have a tendency to irritate me if it is obvious they are topical. If you make a topicality as a time suck I will be less willing to give you ground for other theory arguments based on fairness.
DA - Really vague links irritate me, but you can lose the terminal impact and still have a risk of the DA succeeding.
CP - I need a flushed out method on why the Net Benefit of the CP should outweigh the case.
Case - I find oncase really important, and needs to be stressed on both the aff and the neg. Case specific impacts on either side can easily sway a round
Speed - I am fine with speed, however I much prefer quality of arguments as to why they are logical rather than extending impacts that the other team did not hit as well.
sending a doc/flashing is not prep unless excessive
do NOT be racist, transphobic, homophobic, bigoted, etc.
Competitive history: 3 years at Princeton High School. UIL state qualifier in the policy. Competed primarily in TFA/Nat circuit and have experience in UIL circuit too.
I am now the Speech & Debate Coach at Prosper High School
Speed is fine just slow down a bit in the rebuttals. I say clear twice before I stop flowing. If you are SPREADING through tag lines I AM NOT LISTENING !
TLDR: The best way to explain my evaluation of debate is offense-defense. I don’t think you should pref me high if you are a primarily K team, I will listen to a K debate, I just have a very high threshold for voting for it without a non-jargon explanation (this is applicable to any arg, but for K’s it is especially relevant). Aside from K debate, I’m comfortable listening to anything and I usually don’t have a predisposition for any arg. I love a clean line-by-line. I’m tech over truth and I try my best to not judge intervene.
Topicality: Ah, I love a good topicality debate, but I do think it tends to get unnecessarily messy. Please extend your interps... I don’t have a preference for competing interps or reasonability though, that’s something that will depend on the debate. Yes, you need impacts but no, I don’t have a preference on whether education or fairness is better. DA’s and turns on the standards debate are particularly convincing but if you go for one of these I don’t want a blippy explanation.
Theory: I think the only convincing theory shell I’ve ever heard while competing was condo, so I hope that tells you that I’m not the judge where you should go all in on theory in the 2ar/2nr. Despite this, I will still listen to theory, but please note I have a very high threshold for abuse. Also, if there has been a serious technical concession, I do think that voting for a theory shell becomes more convincing, but I think this is the only time I’m persuaded.
Disads: I’m good w/ any DA you want to run (even politics), but I generally like the link to be more specific because it’s often more persuasive. Generic links are fine though as long as your doing the internal link devoplement. Also persuasive is DA turns/outweighs case.
Counterplans: I don’t judge kick unless you tell me to, but also make sure you have some explanation of why the squo is, at the very worst, still better than the aff. Any counter-plan is fine. You need a net benefit, but I don’t have a preference for whether it’s external or internal. Any CP or PIC you read is fine, see the theory section for more.
Kritiks: I’m not familiar with/don’t remember all of your authors albeit I do know most of the criticism associated with the lit of these K’s, but it is still up to you to have a sufficient explanation. This is an argument where I would much rather you have a link that is specific to the aff because it makes it easier to convince me to vote for you. Generic links are fine too but make sure they are to the aff and not the status quo, but this is still up to the other team to make that argument. Explain your alt, please. I will vote on a linear disad.