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 on: May 24, 2018, 11:53:24 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
From Kevin Kuswa:

Joel, hugs and congratulations! You mean more to me and my family than you know. I would never have had the patience to earn my PhD, let alone coach debate, without your guidance and strength as a role model. From the bottom of the valleys to the glory of the peaks (and we had many of both!), you always had deep and insightful perspective and, above all, compassion for those around you. I remember the very first UTNIF when you told me that we had the opportunity to improve debate in Texas and secure support for the team, but that we had to be diligent and make sure that every single student got better—that the novices at the camp might be the most important students we ever worked with, and that instilling a love for debate was more important than file production. You taught us all many things, not just about Elimite, Castilian food intake expanders, Rod Hart’s paper preferences, the importance of a good breakfast taco, playing defense without expending too much energy, and Velveeta art, but really about teaching and living life. Among those many lessons, three in particular stand out:

1. Everyone is a human being and should be treated as such. It didn’t matter who was crashing on whose sofa, who wore shoes, who was or was not currently on the team, who needed some extra change in their pocket or in the mind, who could or could not get a first round, or who was uplifting and who was an Eyeore. Life is about offering second, third, and fourth chances because writing someone off meant writing everyone off. Caring comes first and you’ve always exemplified that, whether it meant playing silent frisbee in front of the police at 2:00am, finishing up the diseases case hit that no one else would do against Michigan’s aff, having your GAs’ backs no matter the circumstances, asking how someone was doing and really meaning it, or simply listening when someone needed a kind ear.

2. In addition to compassion, humor is the glue. It’s not just about telling a good story (ask Joel about the big garbage bags and the cows for a start), it’s about knowing when to remind folks to pack before they journey, knowing who has something hilarious to share but might need a smile for encouragement, finding a way to laugh with someone and not at them, and being willing to guffaw with abandon. You showed us that we have to be able to laugh at ourselves and that the comic is needed to smooth the tragic (even if Burke is still milk toast Smiley ). Whether the longhorns were winning or losing debates, you always brought levity and reminded us of the larger picture—I remember brody and Emerson being anxious about a big elim at the NDT one year and you getting in a tickling battle with Eric to lighten the mood and help the group focus, I remember calling you about a housing quandary at SDSU one year and you reminding me that most of the debaters had even more bizarre roommates to deal with back on campus, I remember you explaining that it’s ok to give out lots of As because some teachers won’t, and I remember you suggesting (only jokingly) that we could deal with a dispute with a baseball camp at the UTNIF by conducting midnight speed drills in the halls.

3. Pedagogy first, the rest will follow. Stapp used to say, “It’s the UNFIT because Joel is teaching us that we are all unfit in some way and we have to find ways to be flawed together.” You taught us that praxis is more important than product and that we are all students of each other—indeed, the students come first. You taught us that debate is hard work not for work’s sake, but because effort is necessary for growth. You taught us that thinking about class is not about studying for a test, but about confronting inequality on all levels. You taught us that it’s ok to cry sometimes. And you taught us that taking risks is the basis for arguments that matter, whether it was supporting some of the first radically critical positions in the community (the tightening of the gyre, the mid-90s versions of Baudrillard ((wow, that may have gone south!—we should have heeded your suggestion to use Murray Edelman instead)), the criticisms of consumption, or simply some good old Marxism), or working on a case negative that included a qualification debate and used the aff’s authors’ against the solvency. You helped us all strive for consensus in our collective pedagogy because democracy can become just an easy way to avoid the potential inherent in struggle. And, above all else, you taught us that pedagogy is love—love for the process, love for deep thinking, love for overcoming difficulties through collaboration, and love for each other.

It’s a massive understatement to say you have done incredibly outstanding work down in Austin, Joel—there is no Texas Debate without you and the huge number of students you have mentored and coached will always have you in their hearts. You have nurtured a mammoth family that will continue to thrive and impart these and other profound lessons for ages to come. More time with Kristina and Ava & Charlie is much deserved for you all (infinite thanks to them for sharing your light with us) and I’m sure the forthcoming chapters will be rich and fulfilling. Even twenty years after having had the privilege to coach for you, I come back to your example every day. All of us are better because of your influence and, even more significantly, we know that when we forget to ask WWJRD, you are not going to say “I told you so;” rather, you’ll offer a bear hug and say, “What can I do to help?” Thank you so so much for everything and keep on keeping on! All ways and always Hook ‘em! Kevin

 on: May 24, 2018, 11:52:18 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
From Omar Guevera:

thank you for being my friend and role model since we first met in the fall of 89. for 29 years you have been nothing but supportive of everything I did, dreamt, and ultimately, tried to direct in debate. my life would be devoid of so much happiness if we had never met. i am especially grateful for the professional inclusion you always extended to me, even when, at times, I wasn't entirely sure where - or how - I fit in the community. and deep gratitude as well for the decades of just adjudicatory consideration you gave to every generation of debaters i worked with in Dearborn, Bakersfield and Ogden. students from the other side of the railroad tracks don't always get a fair shake in this game, but with you I always knew they would (and did). while I must stop this post to avoid a sad cry, this is no goodbye. I can't wait to see you again, and veronica and I wish you and your beautiful family the best on the next. all our love always, Doc.

 on: May 24, 2018, 11:51:38 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
From Scott Segal:

Joel, congrats my friend! I remember well those first couple of years at Texas. You came in with so much compassion, wisdom, intelligence and patience. Generations of Longhorns benefited as a result. What a legacy! Let me know if travels bring you up this way...I'll feed you well, and you can show me your gold watch. Cheers to you! ss/

 on: May 24, 2018, 11:51:07 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
From Neill Normand:

Congratulations, Joel! I am right behind you! I can’t tell you what your support and love for Caddo Debate all these years has meant to us. Generations of Caddo debaters owe their success to the Utnif and you. Sixteen years ago I was just an English teacher that didn’t know better than to say no when they asked me to take over our debate program. You let me come to utnif and participate just like a student, and I learned so much that summer. And every year since then, the Longhorn Classic has felt like a homecoming. Your kindness and patience over all these years has been one of the greatest blessings of my career.

Enjoy this time with your family to the fullest—you earned it! ❤️🎉❤️🍾

 on: May 24, 2018, 11:49:44 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
From Kate Richey:

In a little over a week, Joel Rollins will be retiring his position as Director of Debate at the University of Texas. I want to suspend what has been a glorious and much needed Facebook hiatus to take a moment to send a tribute out there to the community of debaters (and all the folks that know and love Joel) about a giant in this activity as he makes his exit.

It wasn’t long after meeting Dr. Rollins (an honorific I’ve never once heard Joel employ or insist upon, to anyone, even then) as a young debater and camper that I recognized him as one of those adults who treated myself and my peers as young people with intelligence and something to contribute, rather than as kids who should be directed, instructed, and patronized. I’ve seen him treat hundreds of other young people similarly in the decades since that meeting - growing a small, vibrant and unorthodox summer debate institute into a behemoth - a meeting of young minds that continues to emphasize critical and original thought and empowers students to find it in themselves to speak up and speak out in informed, articulate, creative, combustible, world-changing ways.

Joel has spent his years coaching Texas students, coworkers and employees alike with (mostly) patient mentoring and an open mind to alternative perspectives. Whether he agrees with you or not, or ever will, Joel is definitely listening. The longer I’m alive the more rare I realize that is. He has a knack for delivering criticism so delicately - couched with constructive advice and deliberate displays of care - that even while delivering messages that could discourage and wound even the most thick-skinned person - it still kind of feels like you’ve just been given some small and insignificant award.

Joel has an active mind and a completely original point-of-view. He also has the ability to easily build rapport with people from all walks of life and to encourage diversity of thought and opinion - never settling for easy or comfortable answers. Instead of a judgmental and heavy-handed moral code, he has modeled for his team a strong (but quiet) intuitive sense of right and wrong. Joel has gotten both sillier and more serious since becoming a father and has given of himself generously and tirelessly to his family, friends, loved ones, and certainly his debate team when they needed it the most (and even when they didn’t know they needed it).

Joel - nobody else could do the work you’ve done here. The debate community owe Kristina, Ava and Charlie a debt of gratitude it could never repay for monopolizing you for so many years. I can’t wait to see what this next stage of your life brings for you, your beautiful family, and any of the communities that you choose to invest your time and energy in from here on out #texasforever #t4e

I encourage anyone else with something to say to Dr. Rollins to take some time to compose a note and leave it on his wall this week! Let’s send him off with the kind words and sincere appreciation that he’s given to us.

 on: May 23, 2018, 01:09:11 PM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
Just saw this post from Will Helixon's facebook page.  Kyle was on the team with me when I debated at North Texas.  He was also one of the first debaters I coached since that was my first coaching gig the year after I graduated from college.  I echo Will's sentiment that he was a really great guy.

It is hard to believe that my best friend, Kyle, died this morning. We met in high school as debaters, him in Amarillo area and me in the North Texas area. We ultimately were debate partners at the University of North Texas – and along the way, we became best friends.

After our junior year, Kyle developed an osteogenic sarcoma, and had his leg amputated – he spent several months on my couch taking his chemotherapy – hairless as a cue ball. He won. Watching him go through that was excruciating. With too much time on our hands after our debate eligibility was over, we decided to take over student government. I was elected president, and he was by far, my closest friend and advisor. We had a blast.

When I got hired to work for a gubernatorial campaign, I got him in the campaign too – and that became his passion. We attended law school together, and he decided to stay in politics instead of finishing law school. We would go months, and even years without seeing each other, but it was instantly back to where we were with each reunion. We would see each other dozens of times over the course of the next 25-years.

Kyle was a brilliant man who always thought about others. When he died, he was working helping with relocation efforts in Beaumont after Hurricane Harvey. This was typical of his mindset – looking to always make our world better. Although he never achieved his maximum professional potential, he had enough heart for several people. He was always the funniest person in the room, and it was just natural. I don’t know a soul who was not drawn to Kyle.

We took a vacation to Mexico in the late 80s, after he recovered from his cancer. We were walking down the beach and his stump started sweating, and all of the sudden he kicked his prosthetic leg off and he fell on his face. I check to see he was okay, and we just started laughing uncontrollably – people thought we lost our mind – and later that night we were sitting in the ocean, and he somehow got sucked into the deep. I remember dragging him out of the ocean, and after he puked up sea water, the laughing ensued again.

It was always like that – he was a true joy to be around. He would give you the shirt off his back, and if he needed one, he would take it from you if offered – but would give it back if he thought you needed it. I truly loved this very special man. He always told me, Wilbur, you always have a knack for turning lemons into lemonade – my dear friend, today, it’s only lemons.

 on: May 22, 2018, 11:10:43 AM 
Started by Kathryn Rubino - Last post by Kathryn Rubino
So with 9 quality, but very long, topic papers out there and time constraints being what they are, I thought it'd be a good idea to give my "elevator pitch" on why you should rank First Amendment high on your ballot.
3 reasons:

1- variety of aff impacts
The way the controversy is structured allows for a wide variety of topical Aff impacts. Want to run an aff that attacks white supremacy? You can do that under the hate speech prong of the potential resolution (or use it as a starting point to deconstruct that). Want to talk about terrorism impacts? Your aff could ban ISIS sympathizing videos. If you overturn Citizens United you can talk about a wide range of campaign finance impacts from capitalism, Russian influence in US elections, to NRA lobbying. You want to talk about violence against women? Ban revenge porn.
This topic has something for everyone.

2- great generic neg ground
You might be worried that so many aff possibilities would screw the neg. not so on this topic. Because of the direction of the controversy-- limiting 1A rights-- there is a solid core of academic literature from First Amendment fundamentalists that would argue any limit on the 1A would be terrible. There's a built in slippery slope DA where the aff's erosion of a fundamental right could be linked to a more severe attack on personal liberties. And because of the relatively small size of First Amendment academics, the authors responds to one another in a way that makes for great debate.
This topic also does not divide aff and neg ground along traditional liberal/conservative lines. That means there are neg case cards from both a liberal and conservative point of view. And you can run affs from a wide variety of political perspectives-- from critical race theorists to security experts. As we, as a community, struggle with how to construct a topic that everyone can be comfortable with making sure we select a topic that has quality aff and neg ground from all sides of our community is essential.

3- salient topic for 2018-19
This topic is incredibly timely-- and not in a "oh no, our aff is non-inherent" a week before the NDT sort of way. The issue of free speech rights and who gets to exercise them is being played out on college campuses right now. The alt-right, via Milo Yiannopoulos and other trolls, has launched an assault on college campuses in an attempt to redefine the 1A in a way that suits their particular political agenda. For college kids this is as real world as it comes, a year's worth of research on the topic can only serve them well when the issue blows up at their campus.

 on: May 19, 2018, 10:38:52 AM 
Started by Hester - Last post by Hester
this has also been copied and pasted to the Facebook College Policy Debate Topic Discussion page...

The following is an explanation for how we ended up with 9 TAPs on the ballot, i.e., it will focus on the reasons why the other 3 submitted TAPs (Government Structure, Labor, Treaties) were excluded.
With that in mind, I’ll provide some background context for those who are new to the process:
1)   The role of the Topic Committee (TC) is to manage the process by which CEDA dues-paying members end up with a resolution for the next academic year. There are essentially four steps: submission of TAPs by anyone who wants to produce a paper, TC construction of the first-stage ballot whereby CEDA voters select a topic area, the CEDA business meetings taking place in June at which the TC meets to transform the TAP into a second-stage ballot that includes at least 3 resolution choices, and the second-stage ballot whereby CEDA voters select what resolution will be debated the next academic year. Some of that process (e.g., the dates for when voting occurs, the number of resolution options on the second-stage ballot) are dictated to us, while other parts (e.g., how it is determined which TAPs make the first-stage ballot) are left to the decision-making of the TC.

2)   The exclusion from the first-stage ballot of submitted TAPs is not uncommon. In at least 4 of the last eight years (2011, 2014, 2016, 2018), there has been at least one TAP that was submitted but did not make the ballot. As evidenced by the decisions of this year’s TC, the authority (some would say ‘duty’) of the Topic Committee to serve as a gate-keeper of what TAPs are voted on is a concept agreed upon by the majority of the TC (indeed, several who may have voted to include any/all of the 3 TAPs that were excluded this year still strongly in the power/authority of the TC to exclude if it so chooses).

3)   There are three moving parts to the current process making it somewhat stressful, frustrating, and/or less mutually beneficial than it might ideally be. First, there are the people who want to submit a TAP, and their needs –specifically, the need by many for more time ‘after nationals’ for them to produce the best TAP they can. Second, there are the needs of the TC to do our best in digesting the total of more than 1000 pages of complex topic area advocacy for a dozen different topics, discuss our thoughts about each, and reach consensus necessary for the creation of first- and second-stage ballots. And finally, the CEDA President is dealing with the need to adhere to timelines dictated in CEDA bylaws, which directly impact (and frequently cut against) the needs outlined in the first two moving parts. This year, those potential conflicts were further exacerbated by a delay in the formation of the full TC – the student reps were not voted upon until mid-May. There is ongoing discussion as to how to better synchronize the aforementioned moving parts so as to create a smoother process with expectedly better outcomes in terms of more people feeling confident in how the TC does its job (TC members included).

Having said all that as a set-up, here’s how the RFDs came about…
A)   Decision calculus:

As expressed by one TC member: “…someone is going to have to decide which TAPs qualify… the TC should always weigh in on this, even in years we are not restricted to one area.” In other words, the job of the TC is to make decisions about TAPs and Resolution wording options, and regardless of whether all TAPs make the first-stage ballot or only some do, “decisions” are being made based on some logic/metric.

The following argument was presented at the start: The default (or ‘presumption’) should be that any TAP submitted on time should make the ballot, out of respect to the authors who worked hard to write a TAP. To be clear, ‘presumption’ means that it is unnecessary an argument be made *for* a TAP to be on the ballot; instead, an argument must be made *against* a TAP and be found persuasive by a majority of the TC members (5 of 9) in order to be left off the ballot.

With that as a guide, the discussion opened up to any argument against inclusion of any TAP. The explanations in the next section (B) outline arguments that ultimately persuaded at least a simple majority to leave some TAPs off the ballot. 

B)   Reasons for Decisions:

1)   Both Treaties and the Labor TAPs were ultimately excluded due to a consensus of opinion that neither was worthy as a “legal” topic. This is not to deny the attempts by authors of those TAPs to describe the possibility of debating each as such –kudos to the authors for their effort.

As one TC member argued, “The criteria is ‘A topic that relates to a controversy within legal jurisprudence and where the topic wording emphasizes legal research.’  The controversy area is clearly legal-ish, because treaties affect or constitute laws, but that's not synonymous with ‘controversy within legal jurisprudence’ and I don't think the topic wording ("ratify/accede to/implement one or more of the following") promotes legal research so much as it promotes research on whether XYZ treaty is a good or bad idea.” Or to quote another: “I love reading about treaties, and I personally love reading about the legal things about treaties, but I don't feel like there is a resolution about treaties that is consistent with the paper that encourages/promotes legal research. I don't think the paper really backs up some of its claims about being a legal topic - either in terms of being a legal controversy or promoting legal research.”

The opposition to Labor was not as strongly defined – there was acknowledgement that labor laws are commonly challenged in the courts, for example. However, like Treaties, a majority of the TC came away from reading the Labor TAP thinking that it is a square peg topic that *can* be forced into the round hole of the Legal Topic rotation, but such machinations are not best for either an optimally-educational discussion of the topic or a great way to spend a year of trying to debate that topic. In the case of Labor, one TC member explained their opposition thusly: “‘the Supreme Court could be the actor’ and ‘it relates to laws and rights’ seems more like ‘this issue has legal implications and interactions’ than ‘this is a legal topic’.”

Under the current process, TC members have to figure out for themselves how they measure TAPs vs the topic rotation requirements. One TC member articulated the following metric they use as part of their decision-making:

“For me, the test is ‘Could a debater learn about the heart of the topic by Googling some internet topic lit and not have to do legal research?’ For example, health care topic – yes…some folks read law reviews/did legal research. But the majority of folks seemed to learn most of their topic knowledge from health care journals and health care news sources…and that was okay - not a legal topic… I feel both treaties and labor would possibly scratch the surface of some legal research, but most debaters, like with health care, could understand the heart of the issues with foreign policy or labor lit, not requiring a ton of legal research. By contrast, all the other topics seem to have more solid core legal/constitutional aspects of their controversies. …most of the topics are salient in the news, but all of the other topics likely have constitutional/legal controversies at their core that would make legal research.”

2)   Government Structure was a different case. Opposition to it was not focused on the T-Legal question, but more so workability and salience concerns. In terms of the latter point, multiple TC members noted that the sources cited in the TAP did not support the notion that this topic is ‘timely’ in a way that implicates research and advocacy. As one TC member stated: “there's a real disconnect between the solvency advocates for possible mechanisms and the timeliness arg/the stated advantage ground -- i.e., in 2018 it makes intuitive sense to propose sweeping changes to the structure of the USFG, so why are all the solvency advocates from the 20th century? We don't know what any of these proposals look like in our current political moment. That's not to say that this could not be a good controversy area, but I worry about the amount of work required to ‘update" the proposals.’” TC members persuaded by this reason were very cognizant of TC responsibilities at our meetings June 8-10, specifically, “If I am understanding our timeline right, we will have 7 days from when the topic area is known/chosen to bring that paper into the 21st century? I don't like our odds.”

A second concern, independent with but interactive upon the first, was the size of the topic area and its workability. As explained, “…it seems to encompass every other topic area, and then some. Lots of the possible AFFs in the executive authority/voting rights/presidential removal/probably other papers would also be plausible under ‘change the structure of the USFG.’ …combined with the first issue I feel like this would require an incredible amount of TC effort and might end up with resolutions that look radically different from the paper.”

The decisions to exclude the Labor and Government Structure TAPs from the ballot were more contested than that to exclude Treaties. More than one TC member advocated for either/both of these two to make the first-stage ballot. There was an exchange of ideas and warrants on both sides of the include/exclude decision for each, the depths of which were limited only by the sliver of time the TC had to deliberate, and not by any lack of care for the work done on each or awareness of the consequences for our decisions. In the case of Labor and Treaties, both were determined to be much better fits in a non-legal year. In the case of Government Structure, a majority of this TC would need to see different research about it as a topic and more in-depth analysis of how that topic area might be corralled into a manageable resolution (as last year’s resolution – and many more prior to that – indicates, there is a preference among CEDA voting membership for choosing narrower topics/resolutions). And since, as proven by the Labor TAP, any TAP can be re-submitted in future years, the notion that Government Structure need not be accepted this year, but could be reworked and submitted another year. IF the TC had been under different timelines, it might have been possible to send it back to the author for a ‘revise and resubmit’ touch-up, an idea favored by multiple TC members in a world where the Topic Area Ballot didn’t have to be published less than 72 hours after all the components necessary for TC decisions (fully-constituted membership, all papers submitted) were in place.

Obviously and understandably, the authors of the excluded TAPs (and many of those who wanted to debate these topics) disagree with much, if not all, of the reasoning given above – otherwise, they wouldn’t have submitted the TAPs they did. And “we did the best we could” is not a response that can, or should, discount those disagreements. My post is not attempt to ‘debate it out’ any more than the judge who explains why they voted AFF is doing so in order to entice the NEG into an argument that will keep them all from eating lunch or prepping for the next round. Instead, I hoped to have provided some insight into how we reached our decisions and how those choices might have been different in different circumstances.

I have purposefully avoided mentioning which specific TC member said what or how the voting breaks down by TC member. I do so for two reasons. First, I honestly don’t feel it makes the process better, and as chair, I have zero interest in the petty politics almost certainly to result once ‘names are named.’ Secondly and most importantly, while individual members had to initiate discussion by making ‘their’ case, actions taken by the TC are collectively “our” decision, and my experience being chair of various committees is that speaking with one voice is the best way to ensure WE, the committee, can work together in the most productive way.  Having said that, we do expect to have ‘live coverage’ of the June meetings and that level of disclosure/surveillance will reveal, to all who follow, the arguments and positions of each and every TC member throughout our deliberations.

Now, we all have NINE papers that DID make the second-stage ballot to comb through and think about so that we can figure out how to rank them. 

 on: May 16, 2018, 11:24:18 AM 
Started by Adam Symonds - Last post by Adam Symonds
The 2018 is now open for registration. Our website remains the same (, and the link to register appears on the Registration page. Arizona State is transitioning between online payment systems from this academic year to next, so the set up took a bit longer this year than is ideal. Earlybird deadline is June 1.

This year's staff includes Deven Cooper, Izak Dunn, David Hingstman, Steven Pointer, Grace Saez, and Adam Symonds. We are currently still adding Lab Assistants, as documented in my prior message.

We're continuing last year's hybrid online/in person format, with a series of short lectures, practice speeches, research assignments, and lab discussions online July 15-28 and one week in person July 29-August 5 for practice debates, redos, and a tournament.

Questions, check out our website or email me directly.

 on: May 15, 2018, 07:20:44 PM 
Started by jstidham - Last post by jstidham
Attached. Happy topic paper season!

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