Michael Ewald -- UChicago Lab

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Judging philosophy:

Basic Info:
This is my first year as the Director of Debate at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. From 2008-2011, I served as an assistant coach at Sioux Falls Lincoln (SFL) High School in South Dakota. I debated 4 years at Watertown High School, SD from 2002-2006.

Quick Glance:

Label: Policy-maker

-K's—
Not a huge fan of K's w/o alternatives. But debaters I've coached have been so it isn't like I despise them...

-Theory—
Generally never think it gets developed enough. If you want me to vote for it—you're probably going to have to force me to do so with substantial commitments to argumentation about voters/impacts. Also, please slow down...you're better off elaborating on a few key issues than speeding through your front-line.

Framework—
-I think framework debates are important. Especially if you plan to run a K with a shady alternative--this might be your best venue to counteract my inherent skepticism with the idea of doing nothing.

-T—
I think topicality is an important tool in the negative arsenal, but my above comments on theory apply.

-CP's—
I like good counterplan debates—but multi-plank CP's are probably bad unless you have an author advocating it as a packaged singular policy or piece of legislation.

DA/Case—
Probably my most preferred type of debate to watch. I like politics--but I'll listen to intrinsicness and other fiat critiques of the da.

-Speed & Conditional positions—
I probably prefer to hear you go slower than you would like to speak. Sorry, I'm not trying to ruin debate, but for the most part—lack of clarity annoys me more than argument selection as a judge. Meaning—I don't care if you go for a K, CP, or inherency for that matter....as long as I can understand it. This probably speaks to my overall judge philosophy—I prefer more developed debates earlier in the round than most judges. That said—I'm not a lay judge so don't treat me as one—but aim for a 6 or 7 instead of a 9 or 10 on the speedometer. Not only will this hurt your speaker points, but it will probably hurt my ability to flow your arguments, and since I generally attempt to judge per the flow—it gets tricky when you may have certainly made arguments that I didn't get flowed. So don't put me in that situation, and you'll likely be rewarded and happy with my decisions.

Random thoughts that may be helpful...

I come from a fairly conservative debate background. I think your job as a debater is to answer your opponent's arguments—this means if you want me to judge per the arguments on the flow and avoid intervention in my decision calculus—help me keep it organized. Be technical, efficient, clear. Use a line-by-line. Do your impact work juxtaposed to your opponent's. If you want me to flow well, that probably means you should too.

I default toward policy making. In this world, I think the efficacy of policy action is of utmost consideration, meaning that it is not all about offense/defense. I believe presumption to be true (unless specifically told otherwise), meaning there has to be a threshold the affirmative passes to be considered a viable example of the resolution and worth the risk of changing from the status quo. You, as a debater should be explaining what that threshold is, and whether it is met or not.

So what if you love critiques and only run a performance aff—are you destined to lose my ballot every round? Not at all! I appreciate “good debate”—as long as you are defining how my decision should function with the arguments in the round—you will be fine. All of that seemingly depressing info above shouldn't deter you from doing what you do best, especially if you believe in it. I've come to appreciate some of the more abstract styles of debate recently. You can win my ballot, just don't take for granted that I implicitly understand the nuances of how you think my ballot functions—connect that bridge for me.

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision

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