Sheila Peterson -- Edina High School

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Judging philosophy:

Background - I'm currently in my third year as Director of Debate at Edina High School (go Mimi and Erin), having previously been the Director at Highland Park (MN) for five years. Back in my day I debated for Edina High School and then for Concordia College for two years. Some of my own successes include being one of the first MN teams to qualify to the TOC, winning the Blake Tournament, and regularly participating in elim rounds at college invitationals. This past summer I was a lab leader in the University of Michigan's 7-Week Juniors program; I will be returning next summer to lead another 7-week Juniors lab with Casey Harrigan and Josh Clark.

General Philosophy: I believe an argument is an argument, so feel free to run what you want in front of me. I don't have any unusual predispositions, special thresholds, or strange quirks - you should find that comforting as a debater. I find it extremely annoying when judges impose their own highly-subjective biases in any aspect of the debate. Yes, like all human beings I find some arguments more compelling than others, but I don't see my job as being to determine "truth" in a debate. I vote for arguments all the time that are absolutely absurd and don't lose sleep over it. I don't get judges who say things like "I'll vote for anything, except consult CPs, most T arguments, and Ks without an alt." In my book, it's all debatable.

Most debates in front of me tend to come down to which team does a better job of executing on the flow. I'm a bit of a stickler for organization and I appreciate debaters who are easy to follow on both a macro and micro level. On a macro level, I wish more debaters would employ a short (read: concise) global overview and use regional overviews for explanatory purposes on individual positions. I find that debaters often lose sight of the forest through the trees and forget to articulate the most important elements of the debate: in addition to the all-important impact calculus, I find it really helpful when debaters give me the big picture of their case, K, CP or whatever, particularly where any part is tricky. On a micro level, signposting is your friend and so is speech structure - please try to regularly employ both in debates before me.

I appreciate polite, funny, and charismatic, and reward these qualities with higher speaker points.

In terms of specific issues:
Topicality – Generally a solid argument to run in front of me. As someone who enjoys words, I naturally like a good topicality debate, though by the same token I detest messy and poorly-developed ones. Which is not to say that I haven’t voted on my fair share of poorly-run cheap shots, only that it's less enjoyable for me. I tend to view topicality as a DA, meaning I conceive of interpretations as having advantages and disadvantages.
Critical arguments– I have no special threshold or unusual filter for matters of philosophy; I vote on Ks probably as often as I do any other negative argument. I will warn you, however, that in my experience Ks tend to invite more intervention on my part, particularly where the alternative or interaction with the case impacts is not well explained.
Theory – I don’t require that you spend any specific amount of time to win a theory issue in front of me. While I find that I tend to end up siding with the negative on most questions of theory, I believe that’s primarily a function of the reality that the block has 13 minutes to develop the negative's theories of debate. If you want to go for theory on the aff, chances are you will probably need to be gutsy and commit to the argument in rebuttals.
Speed - I have no problem with speed. If I can't understand you, I will say "clear."
Evidence - It is the debaters' job to indict evidence and/or make evidence comparisons. This means I don't believe in calling tons of cards and re-creating an altogether different debate than the one that took place. I think judges who vote you down simply because "you were debating better than your evidence" fundamentally misunderstand the communicative nature of our activity.

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision

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