Author Topic: Owen L Coon Tournament Invitation  (Read 4455 times)


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Owen L Coon Tournament Invitation
« on: August 10, 2010, 11:50:39 AM »
51st Owen L. Coon Memorial Debates
Northwestern University

October 2-4, 2010

August 10, 2010

Greetings Directors, Coaches, Judges, Debaters, and Friends. This serves as invitation to the 51st Annual Owen L. Coon Memorial Debates, to be held on the Evanston Campus of Northwestern University, October 2-4, 2010 (don’t get too excited it’s only a one year move to help out our Wildcat friends of the SEC).

The Debate Society wishes to continue and advance a number of the traditions here at Northwestern - the most important of these being the annual Owen L. Coon Memorial tournament which we have hosted for the past 50 years. This year will the tournament will again reside on the Evanston campus and at the newly christened Hilton Orrington. We will make a number of significant improvements to the tournament program which will be outlined below, but we want to impress upon each of you the depth of our commitment to hold the most hospitable, efficient, and competitive tournament that we have ever attempted.

In that spirit, we cordially invite you to attend the 51st Owen L. Coon at Northwestern in October.


The Northwestern Debate Society

Improvements and Changes at the 2010 Owen L. Coon:

Meals: We will provide a light coaches reception Friday evening at registration; breakfast and lunch on Saturday; Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner on Sunday; meals for participants and judges on Monday, and a reception once the Finals end.

A return to 8 prelim rounds.  After our experimentation last time around with 7 rounds we’ve decided to return to our classic 8 round setup.  We will strive to run elim day on a tight schedule to make sure everyone can enjoy the party, but believe that we should offer the opportunity for more debates especially with the tournament so early in the year.  We have not decided if this will be a permanent change; after we have completed both a 7 and 8 round event we will compare and make a more lasting decision about which format bests suits our campus, staff, etc.
Evidence moving: We have traditionally moved the evidence for the entire tournament on Friday night and Sunday night back and forth from the hotel. We will continue this but also add an option to move folks’ evidence from their Saturday night ballot table to their Sunday morning ballot table if they would like. This will help us cut down on a lengthy move Sunday morning in order to stay on schedule.

Work Space/Reception Sunday Evening: We have decided to continue a change that we instituted at the last Owen L. Coon tournament – all the assistants and grad students who stay up late on the night before  the elims are invited to a workspace on Sunday evening. We will provide coffee, drinks, free wireless (which is throughout the hotel), and light snacks for all who would like to join us. We will endeavor to maintain a quiet but hospitable workspace that will try to balance privacy with sociality. We plan on using the 9th floor of the Hilton Orrington for this event.

Trophies: We will have them.

Wake Forest Time Limits: We thought that the experiment to put hard caps on decision times was a great success at the Shirley and the OLC over the last several years. We will adopt the same system at the Owen L. Coon this year in order to cut down on the length of competition days. This, combined with NU assisted evidence movement, providing many meals, and hard start times should enable us to adhere to the schedule and get back each night at a reasonable hour.

No Banquet: We decided to scrap the banquet. Some banquets are good; ours cost too much money and extended the day too long on Sunday.  Dinner will be before round 8 to make sure everyone has power for the final push.  We are using the money we would have spent on that to increase the number of meals and receptions that we will provide for you. We will instead have a brief awards distribution on Monday morning.

Tournament Hotel: We have decided to return to both the Evanston Campus and the Hotel Orrington. The Hotel Orrington, now a Hilton property, is the nicest hotel on the North Shore (probably too nice for a debate tournament, but, hey, they signed the contract). The newly completed renovation makes the hotel competitive with the very nicest properties in Chicagoland. It offers a complete state of the art business facility, complete with wireless high speed internet in all public spaces, COMPLEMENTARY high speed internet connections in all sleeping rooms (yes, complementary), two completely renovated restaurants and bars, three high speed elevators, and a redesigned open space lobby area, and a full workout facility complete with spa. All public space in the new Hotel Orrington is non-smoking. Some sleeping rooms have been set aside for guests who smoke; accordingly, it is important to be specific to your needs when making sleeping room reservations.

Rooms are available at a rate of $115 per night, plus appropriate city taxes. The $115 dollar rate is good for up to four persons per room. Sleeping room reservations are made directly through our contact in the sales office. Our sales contact is Kathy Koestering and she can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 847-556-7927. You will need to secure your reservation with a major credit card. Be sure to mention to that you are associated with the Owen L. Coon Debates.

***Please Note*** Reservations must be made no later than Friday, August 30th to secure the tournament rate. The cut-off date is quickly approaching, so we encourage you to make reservations ASAP.

Should you need to cancel a reservation, the Hotel Orrington asks that you do so no less than 24 hours in advance of your scheduled arrival by 3:00 p.m. CST. Failure to do so, as well as an unplanned early check-out, will be billed according to the full duration of your planned stay.

The Hotel Orrington is located at 710 Orrington Avenue in Evanston. Directions from various points of entry are as follows:

From O’Hare International Airport: From Arrivals Terminal, follow signs “To Chicago.” Exit at I-294 NORTH. (There will be a 50¢ toll). Exit at Dempster Street-EAST. Continue east on Dempster approximately 15–20 minutes into Evanston. Turn Left on McCormick Blvd and right on Church Street. The hotel is on the corner of Church Street and Orrington Avenue. The main entrance is on Orrington Avenue.

From Chicago and departures South: North on Lake Shore Drive to its end at Hollywood. Right onto Sheridan Road. Continue north into Evanston. (There are many turns. Watch for Sheridan Road signs). Left on Dempster Street to Chicago Avenue. Right on Chicago; four blocks to Davis Street. Left on Davis. One block to Orrington Avenue. Right on Orrington. 1 ½ blocks to Hotel Orrington on left.

From Milwaukee and departures North: Take I-94 East to Dempster -EAST exit. Dempster into Evanston. Turn left on McCormick Blvd and right on Church Street. The hotel is on the corner of Church Street and Orrington Avenue. The main entrance is on Orrington Avenue

Air and Ground Transport: Chicago is easily accessible via air transportation via both Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and Midway International Airport. Both ports are approximately twelve miles from Evanston. North Shore Cab (847)-864-7500 offers a flat rate of $35 between Evanston and O’Hare, and $60 between Evanston and Midway.

Airport Express (800) 654-7871: Shared van service departs O’Hare every 20 minutes between 6:00 AM and 11:00 PM. Upon arrival at O’Hare, see ticket agents in baggage claim areas 1E, and 3E and ask for a suburban shuttle. Cost is approximately $25.00 per person and $46.00 round trip (2nd and 3rd passengers are $8.00 per person one way). They require a one day advance notice for return trips to O’Hare.

Please note that if you are flying to Chicago it is quite possible to attend the tournament without having to rent vans or cars for the weekend. The tournament will provide almost all the meals that you will need, and the remaining meals can be obtained from a variety of restaurants within walking distance of the Hotel Orrington. You will merely need to take taxis to and from your airport of choice; this should save some money for even a large party with a number of teams.

Parking: Should you drive to the tournament or decide to rent your own ground transportation upon landing, you have several parking options in Evanston. You may valet your vehicle at the Orrington for a cost of $20 for each 24 hour period. While we have worked with the Orrington staff to speed the valet process, an event this size can sometimes create quite a clog at the start and end of tournament prelim days. Accordingly, you may consider some nearby alternatives.

After 4 p.m. on Friday, February 6, and on Saturday and Sunday, you can park in the “F” lot behind the Hardy House at 1809 and 1815 Chicago Avenue.

To reach this lot, from the front of the Hotel Orrington, drive one block north (the only way you can drive on Orrnington Avenue) to Clark Street. Head east (take a right) on Clark Street and proceed one block to the intersection of Clark Street and Chicago Avenue. Continue straight through the traffic light at that intersection and take an immediate left into the alley way just beyond the intersection. This leads you directly to two adjacent “F” or faculty parking lots (which will be off to your right). You will get ticketed in these lots if you do not move your vehicle by 8:30 a.m. on Monday; the no permit tickets are $50 each. Also, avoid parking in the spots marked for the SAE fraternity offices on the north end of the parking lot, these are non university spots and violators will be towed.

Another option is a lot operated by the City of Evanston. It is relatively cheap; $6 for twelve hours or more. Consider this option if snow is forecast. Unlike the aforementioned Northwestern lot, the City lot is covered, so you may save yourself some time on any morning when inclement weather looms. To reach the City lot, from the front of the Hotel Orrington, drive one block north (the only way you can drive on Orrnington Avenue) to Clark Street. Head east (take a right) on Clark Street and proceed one block to the intersection of Clark Street and Chicago Avenue. Continue straight through the traffic light at that intersection. This city lot is on your right just beyond the intersection.

Tournament Provided Transportation: As is historical practice, we will transport both participants and evidence to and from the Orrington. Cargo vans will circulate between the buildings to facilitate room movement when it is required. Buses will circulate on Saturday and Sunday (morning and evening) to move participants as required. We will also add a new service; participants may choose to check their evidence in to their building’s ballot table on Saturday night – if you will move buildings in the morning your evidence will be waiting for you at the ballot table of your building on Sunday morning.

Entry Deadlines, Limitations, and Procedures: Entries are accepted at Please complete your entry no later than Friday, September 24. Entries will be closed and fees calculated at this time.  After that time cutoff, please e-mail changes directly to Luke Hill at  We will be introducing a drop fee of $50 per team.

Waitlist/Room Limits: We have space on campus for 130 teams and anticipate that we may be able to broker more space in the next month. For now we will impose a waitlist after 130 teams and then admit further teams based on available classroom space. In order to ensure equal access for all programs we have established a 3 team cap per school to begin registration.  We will add teams from the waitlist in order of registration by school.   Our procedure will be to add 4th teams in order, then move on to 5th teams etc. If you decide that a team will not or cannot attend please update your entry as soon as possible so other programs can make accurate travel plans. We will make final decisions based on a judgment informed by competitive fairness and equity.

Entry Fees: In light of new changes to our tournament offering (described in detail below) we have changed the fee structure for this year’s tournament. The entry fee will be $60 per participant (debater, coach, judge, scout). This is in line with other large national tournaments and will be supplemented by a substantial commitment from the Northwestern Debate Society. The entry fee is used in its entirety to support the tournament; we raise no net revenue from the tournament and in fact allocate a substantial amount of our yearly discretionary travel funding to support the tournament. We do this because we regard the Owen. L Coon as the most tangible way we can give back to the college debate community.

Judge Requirements: Schools are required to provide four rounds of preliminary judging for each team entered. Each judge is required to be available to hear the first elimination round. Per community practice, each judge is expected to be available one round beyond the elimination of the team with whom they are associated.

Each judge will be REQUIRED to declare ONE AND ONLY ONE WINNER and ONE AND ONLY ONE LOSER in each debate to which they are assigned by the tab room. Compliance with this rule requires each judge to complete an official judge ballot as designated by the tab room. Completion of the ballot requires the judge to clearly designate affirmative or negative to signify a winning team. Judges will also be required to confirm their choice by indicating the school with which the designated winner is affiliated. The side (affirmative or negative) and school affiliation must match the assignments made by the tab room. Judges will also be required to assign speaker points and speaker ranks to each participant in the debate. Speaker points are accepted in increments of 0.5 from a minimum of 0 to a maximum of 30. Speaker ranks are accepted in whole numbers only from 1 to 4. Judges are also required to render a decision in accordance with the aforementioned criteria no more than 165 minutes beyond the designated start time of any debate that they are assigned by the tab room to adjudicate.

If you or one of your judges is unable or unwilling to fulfill these requirements, please submit an alternative judge prior to the start of the tournament. If, during the course of the tournament, any judge representing your school refuses to comply with these requirements, teams affiliated with your school will be removed from the competition by the tab room.

Judges are expected to disqualify themselves from hearing any team or school with which they may have a personal or professional conflict. Such conflicts include, but are not limited to: former college or high school debate colleagues, former students, students from schools with which you have been associated in the last two to four years, and students from a school you plan to associate with next year. We urge judges to maintain a high standard of integrity on this question. Conflicts may be entered in the “comments” section of the judge entry section at Conflicts can also be submitted to Luke Hill at The tab room reserves the right to restrict a judge’s eligible team field based upon our understanding of your past institutional affiliation.

Resolved: the United States Federal Government should substantially increase the number of and/or substantially expand beneficiary eligibility for its visas for one or more of the following: employment-based immigrant visas, nonimmigrant temporary worker visas, family-based visas, human trafficking-based visas.

Bracket Breaking, Side Equalization, and Hybrids: Brackets will be broken in both preliminary and elimination debates to prevent teams from the same school from meeting. Hybrid teams are permitted as per historical practice. Prior to the tournament, maverick entries are not accepted. Once the tournament begins, maverick debaters may or may not be permitted to continue. The tournament director will evaluate maverick situations on a case-by-case basis. The tournament employs the 9-3-6 format with ten minutes of preparation time allocated to each team. The number of preset debates will determined on the number of tournament entrants but we anticipate posting four preset debates on Friday evening. We continue to employ a mutual judge preference (MJP) placement system run by Gary Larson. Eight preliminary rounds are scheduled, followed by five elimination debates beginning with a full doubles on Monday morning. For purposes of efficiency sides for elimination debates will be determined and assigned by tab room coin flip. Elimination debates will also be side-equalized as is historical practice.  All such procedures will be conducted in public and in a transparent manner.

Northwestern teams may compete in the tournament. If so, they are eligible to receive speaker awards and to compete in elimination rounds. We will enter via the web page and declare our participation publicly; at this time we are leaning towards entering some teams, particularly given the change of date for this season. Northwestern teams will be required to complete a judge preference sheet; judge assignments for Northwestern teams will be assigned by the computer and changed only by the option of an external tab room manager (Gary Larson).  There will be an absolute firewall between the tab room and the Northwestern debate team; in the event that Northwestern teams clear to elimination rounds no Northwestern debaters, coaches, etc. will be involved in the selection of judges for debates that Northwestern is involved in.  We strongly think that this should be a universal norm, and will do everything we can to comply with it.
Tournament participants will follow CEDA’s policy against Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, and the Statement of Ethical Principles, found in Bylaws IV and V of the CEDA Constitution. The tournament will apply for CEDA and AFA Sanctioning.

Internet: Each participant (debaters, coach , judge, etc) who has paid an entry fee will be assigned a unique temporary NU Net ID. You will be given a password and instructions for how to access the wireless system (which covers the whole campus). Further instructions will be posted to the CEDA forums as the tournament approaches.  The Hotel has free internet in all of the guest rooms and wireless in the common areas.

Questions: Please feel free to pose questions to Luke Hill – We want you to come join us in Evanston and will spare no effort to get you here and make it a great debating experience. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance or special accommodations. We will do our best to make it happen for you.