Rashad Evans -- Western Connecticut

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Judging philosophy:

Who I am impacts how I decide debates, so I think it is important to share with you who I am. I am a gay, black, lawyer, debater (2N/2A) coach and educator. All of these intersecting parts of my identity affect how I view debates.

First, I am a debater. I debated for 8 years and I have an extreme appreciation for the activity and several of its rituals. I have high expectations of the activity and its participants. I think debaters should be prepared, knowledgeable and engaged. I appreciate good organization, presentation and strategy. I reward teams who debate in such a way. I recognize how much work debate requires and how important the outcome of each debate may matter to you, so I try to be precise.

Second, I am a 2N. Consequently, I believe in the protection of negative ground. I think the affirmative must be topical, unconditional and always better than the status quo. I also believe that the affirmative most likely has to defend something more than the plan or at least that the affirmative must also defend the resolution. So, negative arguments based on the undesirability or insufficiency of the resolution are important to deciding whether there is a reason to affirm. The plan likely has to be immediate and unconditional, as these are other important aspects of predictable negative ground.

Third, I am a 2A. Consequently, I give a lot of leeway to new 2AR arguments. 2AR arguments that are new and not responses to previously dropped arguments are valid and welcomed. I would always rather decide the debate based on an argument in the debate rather than an argument I insert. So, the negative leaves issues open and unresolved at their own peril. Also, the 1AC is always in the debate. So, new 2AR explanations of the Aff are always predictable and permissible. The only other protection afforded to the aff is competition. The negative must present a reason why the Aff is bad (read: link).

Fourth, I am a lawyer. I believe in rules. I view all of my decisions as precedent and I base them on some rule. I believe that decisions encourage and discourage certain arguments and styles of debate. So, I care about the precedent that my decisions set. I am also practical and believe in the productive power of the law and government. I am also not too much of an abstract thinker, so I don’t get most kritiks.

I am black/gay. I am sensitive to debates around these issues, so be careful especially when you want to talk about these issues in a personal way. In many instances these arguments are packaged for a different audience than me and it drives me insane. You are not helping yourself when you do that. Gayness and blackness implicates the style of debate I prefer a lot less than it does my valuation of arguments. I don’t privilege issues related to terrorism, competitiveness, hegemony, soft power or the many other scenarios for nuclear destruction. I care about other things as well. Teams should likely debate these impacts a bit differently in front of me and discuss probability more.

I have traditionally viewed my primary role as a judge as to ensure fairness and education. Many recognize these twin aims of debate. Competitive fairness and education have always been voting issues in debate because they are the ultimate goals of debate. However, I think there must be other considerations.

The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized that there is a compelling state interest in promoting diversity in education. Specifically, the SCOTUS noted that “numerous studies show that student body diversity promotes learning outcomes, and better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and better prepares them as professionals.” Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (U.S. 2003) “These benefits are not theoretical but real, as major American businesses have made clear that the skills needed in today is increasingly global marketplace can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas, and viewpoints.” Id.

Consequently, I view diversity as the third voting issue in debate. I wouldn’t mind having a full briefing on the impact your interpretations, frameworks and arguments have on diversity. An argument can become a voting issue if it upsets competitive balance or if it interferes with topic specific education. I think it should also be a voting issue if it undermines diversity within debate. Diversity means more than racial/ethnic diversity, but less than everything.

Other thoughts:
1. There is no argument more persuasive than topicality is a prima facie burden and voting issue.
2. Framework isn’t really a voting issue in my head. It’s like a special request.
3. Role of the ballot arguments are a joke. It’s like allowing the debaters to write and grade their own exam. It’s odd.
4. I vote on presumption more expected, but I think it’s always in play.
5. The team with the better comparative argument usually wins my ballot.

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision
BingHmptNovOctoJamesMRand0Spiker0LibertMurray0Walker0AFF 2-1 (NEG)
BingHmptNovQurtArmySpikol0Warren0CUNY Cedeno0McIntyre0NEG 2-1 (AFF)
WestPtNov2MUFeldstein28Halwagy28.7CUNY Cedeno26McIntyre26.1AFF
WestPtOpen6TowsonRuffin29.7Whitley30CUNY Cheung26.8Forbes26AFF
WestPtNovOctoCrnlFeldeverd0Zhao0CUNY Cedeno0McIntyre0NEG 3-0 (NEG)
MonmouthOpenOctoJamesMBrass0Waugh0RochstrAkolkar0Weddington0AFF 2-1 (NEG)
CSUFNovFinalFresnoMitchell0Tate0LACCDragon0Mariuta0AFF 3-0 (AFF)
RutgersOpen1LibertAyodeji28.1Holguin28.2CUNY Baroudi27Jackson28AFF
RutgersNovQurtLibertBridwell0Laremore0BingBryant0Dogaroiu0AFF 3-0 (AFF)

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