Ana O'hara -- UChicago Lab

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Judging philosophy:

BACKGROUND: I debated for Sioux Falls Lincoln High School in SD and this is my first year as a student at the University of Chicago and a JV/varsity coach at University of Chicago Lab. During high school I debated both on the national circuit and on a local circuit with more traditional, NFL-style debate.

ABRIEVIATED PARADIGM: Make smart arguments. Explain them well. While I do have preferences for particular arguments, you should run what you’re comfortable with running and debate the arguments you can debate best. I won’t vote you down on an argument because I don’t like it, or even because I find it offensive.

In terms of specific issues, I’ll keep this pretty brief here, but feel free to ask me any paradigm questions before the round.

KRITIKS: I will up front admit that I do have a neg bias on the K. This does not, however, mean that I will vote neg if you haven’t won, that you should run a K you are unfamiliar with, or that the aff can’t win a K debate. What it means to me is that, if both teams made every argument that they should and debated perfectly on the K, I would vote neg. My advice to aff teams here would be that most 2AC's mishandle the framework of the K. This doesn't mean you necessarily need to read more cards or spend longer on framework; merely that, when debating against a K of your methodology, you must offer a defense of your methodology (i.e. empirics good, science good, predictions good) before you get to weigh your case.

For the neg, I think that K debates can be some of the best or the worst debates, and that the key difference lies in how well you can explain your arguments. Don’t assume that I understand the nuances of your critical literature and don’t substitute buzzwords for explanation. As performative contradictions (such as the Security K run along with a disad that has a heg or econ impact) are becoming more prevalent and controversial, I should mention that I think that perf cons are acceptable as long as the alt is a question of methodology.

NON-TRADITIONAL DEBATE: While I agree with many of the arguments that arguments like race criticisms make, I have a very hard time believing that switch-side debate is bad. Honestly, the idea that seventeen-year-olds have already made such a strong decision about issues that it's useless for them to even consider the other side of the issue is sort of silly. That said, my default attitude towards framework on these non-trad issues is that the K team should get their criticism and the other team should be allowed to weigh their case/disad impacts.

TOPICALITY: T was one of my favorite arguments in high school, and, like the K, it can be one of the best or worst debates to judge. I think that a key element of a good T debate is organization. I also think that you should debate T in the same way you debate a disad or counterplan debate in that you should focus on impacts and competing worlds.

THEORY: I’m not a huge fan of theory debates. Of course, if it’s your best chance to win the round, go for theory, but do something to make the debate interesting. Or, at the very least, make it clean and easy to evaluate. I tend to view it as a reason to reject the argument rather than the team unless it is explained to me why I should evaluate it differently. The one exception would be condo, where rejecting only the argument makes it functionally conditional and so doesn't make much sense.

POLITICS: I am probably more willing than most judges to vote against politics on theoretical grounds. On this year’s topic, however, I feel that politics may be a more core component of the neg arsenal than usual. As the year goes on, it will become more clear whether or not this is a true assumption, but know that this is the way that I will default to looking at the topic going into the first tournaments of the year.

COUNTERPLANS: These are really fun debates to judge. I am a big fan of PICs, especially, although I don’t like word PICs quite as much. Although I am open to voting on theory if the debate has won on it, I tend to go into the debate thinking that process counterplans are legitimate, PICs are legitimate, conditionality is good, agent counterplans are mildly illegitimate, international fiat is overall illegitimate but more acceptable than usual on this topic, and multiplank advantage counterplans are fine. Feel free to persuade me otherwise.

SPEED/DELIVERY: Any speed is fine – on a scale of 1-10, I’m probably at a 9 or a 10. I do think that clarity and persuasion are underrated, and these will factor strongly into your speaker points.

ETHOS ETC: I think it’s great to be aggressive, and you don’t have to worry about trying to be nice, unless you’re obviously debating a much less experienced team, in which case there’s no need to beat up on them. I will, however, vote you down if you clip cards, fabricate evidence, or cheat in any other way.


Taking an egregious amount of prep time to jump speeches while your partner preps is stealing prep. If I feel that your jumping time is getting ridiculous, I will start your prep.

I am of the opinion that undue weight is put on the evidence that is read in the round in too many rounds as compared to the analysis made. I will make my decision based solely on the arguments on my flow to the greatest degree possible. For this reason, if you think your evidence is better or there’s a problem with your opponents’, tell me. I will call for cards only if it is flagged as such in the round, or if I feel that it’s the only way to resolve an issue.

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision

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