Gordon Stables -- Southern California

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Judging philosophy:

Gordon Stables – Director of Debate & Forensics – University of Southern California
13 years coaching

I am heavily involved with development of the topic as the Chair of the Topic Selection Committee. I believe we work hard to provide a fair foundation for debaters to explore. When I judge I try to help provide an environment that helps debaters gain from that opportunity.

I will admit to being a little frustrated with the way we having evolved preferences into a consumer decision, but as long as those are the rules here are your advertising slogans to make your purchases.

1) Policy? K? Performance?

I believe debate has its strongest pedagogical foundation when we explore the dimensinos of public policy. Spoiler alert – I am aware that voting ‘aff’ doesn’t mean that the policy get’s adopted. I believe we should emphasize a public policy model because we expose generations of students to the complexities and challenges of American foreign policy. There is tremendous value in having you get a chance to lean about the incredible problems associated with American foreign policy in the Middle East. I can’t believe this argument requires a lot of detail, but the presence of hundreds of thousands of your peers in Iraq is a pretty good sign that we as a culture need to learn more about our role in the world. This is even more so for those who believe our foreign policies should change over time. Even if the topic wasn’t this timely, the process of learning a new topic each year is a valuable process. I firmly believe we should encourage topic specific education whenever possible.

I think trying to make each debate round into a referendum on the personal advocacy of the people in the room ignores the important benefit of experimenting with advocacies. This is not a warrant for argumentative irresponsibility, rather that the contest round is a unique moment to be able to help develop your understanding of larger issues.

Debate is a great process and arguments that dismiss the benefits of debate, and specifically topic-specific education, are becoming increasingly difficult for me to support. If you prefer that I judge you and your model of debate is something dissimilar to traditional policy analysis it is incumbent on you to demonstrate why this model is germane to the topic, predictable to the other team and educationally desirable.

2) How does he make his decision?

I place a very high emphasis on the individual arguments made in rebuttals. I tend to decide more quickly than some other judges because I try to follow a common process. I first review my flow, then I read the relevant cards, and then I review the arguments in light of the evidence. This first step means that I prioritize arguments in the way you prioritize the debate. If you think that something is pressing put it in the overview. If you need to win the permutation solves the links, please make that a cohesive conversation and not a string of tags. If you think I need to read a card, mention it by cite. I am unlikely to read or consider evidence not mentioned by cite in the last rebuttal.

This process often has the effect of differing from other judges because I asses the cards in light of the arguments and not the reverse. This means a well-explained distinction is very important, even if you believe the ‘truth’ of the argument is somewhere out there. If it is, it should be easy for you to find and explain it, even if you don’t have the evidence to back you up. At the end of the day I am comfortable with my decisions if I know that the team making better distinctions gets the benefit of the doubt when trying to resolve a close debate. I try to make sure I develop my decision on what and how you argued first and the evidence is support for those claims.

3) What is unique about this topic?

I view this topic as fundamentally about how the US will develop its diplomatic initiatives toward the Middle East. The phrase constructive engagement wasn’t included by accident – it was a clear expression of trying to expose a generation of students to the challenges of diplomacy in the 21st century. I am open to how the topicality debates may develop, but I do believe that this can and should be much more than just a ‘foreign aid’ or ‘troops’ topic.

I do think that this topic provides plenty of fair literature for both sides. Accordingly I am less willing, by default, to give the negative an unlimited arsenal of critical arguments, T, conditional arguments, international fiat, consult CPs, etc. Sure it is hard to be negative sometimes, but I am sympathetic that it may be just as hard, if not harder, to be affirmative if the negative has an unlimited number of strategic options.

Best of luck to each of you.

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision
GonzOpenQurtCalGannon0Weiner0TexasBhattacharjee0Koneru0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
KYOpenDoubHarvardKarlson0Tandet0MichStLanning0Ramesh0NEG 3-0 (NEG)
KYJVQurtMichStGannon0Patel0MichigCanniff0Hosford0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
UNLVOpenDoubUTDKontopoulos0Varney0GonzoKostun0Newton0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
UNLVOpenOctoCalPai0Pramanik0UTDDwyer0Roark0AFF 2-1 (AFF)
UNLVOpenSemiMichigDeming0Pappas0NwstrnLee0Vellayappan0NEG 2-1 (NEG)
SFSU-1JVQurtSFSUHamud0Teter0PepOrdog0Yang0NEG 3-0 (NEG)
SFSU-1JVSemiSDSUClark0Won0LRCCDEvans0Kumar0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
WakeOpen5EmoryCollins 27.8Moore28MichStButler27.9Caporal28.1NEG
WakeOpenDoubMichStRamesh0Lanning0SamforBagwell0Lewis0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
CSUFOpenDoubGTownArsht0Markoff0CalHodgman0Pramanik0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
D1QualJVQurtASUChotras0Rajan0PolySLCurtin0Irani0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
D1QualNovFinalSacSt.Millen0Soza0SDSUEverheart0King0NEG 3-0 (NEG)
NDTOpenDoubMichStHebert0Ramesh0MichigDeming0Pappas0AFF 3-2 (NEG)

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