David Joannides Captures Columbia

NY, NY–Congratulations to Fordham Prep’s David Joannides for winning the 2013 Columbia Tournament. He debated finals against Livingston’s Jessica Xu in finals, and both debaters received bids to the Tournament of Champions. David is coached by Matthew Khoury, Jonathan Dunworth, and Tom Cameron; Jessica is coached by Bob Overing.

Double Octafinals:
Bronx Science DM def. Collegiate NE (Nathan Ewing-Crystal)
Collegiate AO def. Princeton WM (William Meyer)
Scarsdale LM def. Hunter College GH (Geffen Huberman)
Hunterdon Central VS def. Needham MG (Matt Golberg)
Fordham Prep DJ def. Scarsdale RG (Rahul Gosain)
Sacred Heart AT def. Regis PMc (Peter McGahren)
Scarsdale MM def. Bronx Science ID (Isis Davis-Marks)
Stuyvesant SH def. Needham EP (Emily Pasternack)
Livingston High JX def. Berkeley Carroll KS (Katherine Schulder-Batti)
Cary AW def. Hunter College BL (Ben Laufer)
Lexington JC def. Fiorello LaGuardia LM (Lena Mandell)
Stuyvesant JA def. Lexington JS (Julia Sun)
Timothy Christian AM def. Regis JC (Janus Cataluna)
Hunter College DL def. Lexington DA (Dan Alessandro)
NFA VB def. Byram Hills JA (Josh Altman)
Scarsdale TC def. Timothy Christian GM (Gerritt Maniguet)

Fordham Prep DJ def. Stuyvesant JA (Jae Ahn)
Scarsdale TC def. Bronx Science DM (Daiya Massac)
Lexington JC def. Sacred Heart AT (Adam Tomasi)
Livingston JX def. Stuyvesant SH (Samantha Hom)
Collegiate AO def. NFA VB (Victor Bramble)
Scarsdale LM def. Hunter College DL (Danny Li)
Scarsdale MM def. Cary AW (Alexis Williams)
Timothy Christian AM def. Hunterdon Central VS (Vidhaath Sripathi)

Fordham Prep DJ (neg) def. Lexington JC (Jerry Chen)
Scarsdale LM (neg) def. Timothy Christian AM (Andrew Meleta)
Livingston High JX (AFF) def. Scarsdale MM (Matt Mandel)
Collegiate AO (neg) def. Scarsdale TC (Tomer Cherki)

3. Fordham DJ def. 2. Scarsdale LM (Larry Milstein) (Curtis, Drucker, Waks)
5. Livingston JX def. 9. Collegiate AO (Andrew O’Donahue) 3-0 (Cumming, Hassin, Kasinki)

Finals (bid):
3. Fordham DJ def. 5. Livingston JX (Jessica Xu)

Fordham DJ (David Joannides)

Speaker Awards:
1. Daiya Massac (Bronx Science DM)
2. Larry Milstein (Scarsdale LM)
3. Jessica Xu (Livingston JX)
4. Jerry Chen (Lexington JC)
5. Andrew Meleta (Timothy Christian AM)
6. David Joannides (Fordham Prep DJ)
7. Alexis Williams (Cary AW)
8. Josh Altman (Byram Hills JA)
9. Andrew O’Donahue (Collegiate AO)
10. Samantha Hom (Stuyvesant SH)

  • Drew Hammond

    My name is Drew Hammond, I am the Director of Student Life at the Victory Briefs Institute. I am not usually on this website and am not deeply involved in the debate community. But as the adult who was responsible for handling the situation that started this discussion, I feel it’s necessary to comment.

    I want to make it clear that the allegations being discussed were taken extremely seriously and investigated thoroughly by myself and others, including female staff members. We took immediate action with all students involved to make sure they followed our clear rules, but after talking to both parties and other students who were there, we felt it would not be appropriate to take any further actions. We made every attempt to make sure that all students felt safe and supported. It is not proper for me to go into any greater detail.

    That said, I do think this is an important issue and one every camp, school, coach and debater needs to think about seriously. The very first priority of this, and any educational community, should be to ensure that all students have access to an environment free from fear and derision. We’ve already had constructive dialogue with the other leading LD camps in the past when issues like this have surfaced there, and continue to be interested in how other camps have approached these issues. We’ve tried hard to establish procedures to improve the way we approach these issues–having an anonymous way for people to report problems, having me (a non-debate adult) be responsible for dealing with student issues, etc. But we are always looking for ways to improve and welcome suggestions. If people have ideas or concerns, I encourage you to contact me at hammondsa@gmail.com or Victor Jih directly at victor@victorybriefs.com.

    • anon984794873890

      dear drew and victor,

      please make sure that RYAN HAMILTON never works at vbi again. he has harassed staff members repeatedly despite pleas to stop. he is not safe to be entrusted with that role, and it is disgusting for him to work at your camp. i feel uncomfortable returning to camp to work with him this summer. PLEASE DO NOT BRING HIM BACK.

  • Thelonelywolf

    Have you seen the other post by Bekah, which is entirely dedicated to addressing the issue?

  • Wolfgang Mittermeyer

    I invite everyone on this thread to actually read Jessica’s case carefully (noting that her personal story has been removed, because of what I can only guess are legal reasons). Even analyzing this through the lens of micropolitics, this case makes absolutely no sense to me. If I were judging, I would be ashamed of myself for picking it up just on the ground that there are very few (if any) coherent links or warrants.

    For example, this sentence; “Perhaps the problems that Avi Arfin raised about sexism in debate are better reformulated in my narrative” makes absolutely no sense because Jessica took the narrative out of the case. She may be using the word “narrative” metaphorically now, but I doubt it. There are countless other problems. For instance, lines like “debaters… feel an inflated sense of political importance” – an obvious performative contradiction – or claims such as “The role of the judge as director is to choose callbacks” – are not only unwarranted, but frustrating to listen to because they actually just make no sense. We as a community need to stop having these sorts of discussions in response to these sorts of positions. The reason most of us are frustrated by positions like this is that they are largely unwarranted, incoherent attempts designed to tug at judge’s heart strings in an attempt to get us to vote down debaters who are otherwise trying to just have a debate.

    Also, Jessica despite what you may believe, what you are doing is not helping debate. At Columbia a number of people said horrible things in response to your narrative (such as you asked for this to happen to you, or it was your fault). I don’t know if the people who said that truly believed those things or not, but I can assure you they said them because they had nothing better to say, and they wanted to win. You presume all discourse is good discourse. The reality is, when you put people in a competitive environment they will say anything to win. Also, if you think this flamewar is doing anything but polarizing the community, and preventing us from substantively dealing with sexism, then you are a fool. I honestly think the community just needs to start voting down these positions just because every time we vote for them some horrible flame war happens and we just all point fingers at each other.

    None of you who defend her position seem to have learned from history. Amanda Liverzani failed, Avi Arfin failed, Jalon Alexander failed, and now Jessica too will fail. Needless to say their positions were much better.

    I will finish this rant with a call to judges, echoing Bekah’s article. Don’t just vote for these cases because you identify with them. Do it because the debaters substantively explain why you should. I could go on for hours why this case makes absolutely no sense (reading it hurts my head). Jessica is not dumb, she knows this is effective at winning rounds, and that’s why she is doing it. Don’t fall the generic sexism stuff. Read the case, you will be truly surprised by how poorly constructed it is.

    • Rebar Niemi

      While some of what you say is the same jank that I have heard from untold foolios in the past, what I will say is as someone who enjoys outre or otherwise more unique positions from my formal perspective this type of position is rather inelegant.

      The claim it primarily makes vis a vis the role of the ballot, that the ballot can be used to raise awareness/have ppl take things seriously is not necessarily a bad one, but it is unfortunately one that is rather non-unique as offense once the speech act has been made. Ultimately I think that Wolfgang is right that these calls for the ballot are not particularly good or persuasive. Jalon’s position was in my opinion more sophisticated, but Avi’s was in my opinion less so. I think that each position you mention had its formal failings, but that does not mean that the position as a type is a failure.

      And yes, you’re correct that in some ways those positions did “fail.” But they failed primarily because of the attitude that you claim is a descriptive and law-like reality: that debaters want to win more than they want to substantively engage these issues or accept that they might be in the wrong. I think this is absolutely true, but it’s not law-like. It’s a product of our community history/structure. This argument is in my opinion one of the best reasons that people should run more of these positions: because if you were a good person with proper priorities, you wouldn’t feel personally attacked and threatened by alternative forms of argument. You would beat them on their own terms and accept graciously losses to them. Until you learn that, you deserve to lose to them.

      I should hope that each and every debater that holds the belief that these positions are themselves the source of unproductive and offensive behavior will be taught otherwise until they yield their foolhardy pretensions.

      Nonetheless, I don’t think formal criticism should get in the way of advocacy for issues/people/alternative position types. Good on Jessica for going for something she wanted to go for. A bad micropolitical argument is not a good standard to evaluate micropol on. You’ve only seen mediocre micropol. Do not presume that your experience encompasses reality youngling.

    • LDoutsider

      “…what you are doing is not helping debate.” Who cares? This statement repeats a lot of the logic that Jessica and many others have indited—which is to represent the comfort of the community as more important than the humanity of people who (allegedly) have been traumatized, victimized and by the debate community, seen as sub-human.

      “..a numbe rof people said horrible things in response to your narrative.” Doesn’t that prove the legitimacy of the narrative that instead of saying strong things about the method, they sink into the sexism of their own heads as a way to cope with it INSTEAD OF figuring out good debate arguments in response, or gasp, being decent human beings enough to say that such sexism is wrong? You call out Jessica but you excuse the sexism of those people saying bad things bc its competition. Seems like another link card for Jessica’s case to me. You can’t argue on one end that she and other similar micropol case writers should defer to the good of the community and its discourse when you admit that they already have ill intentions towad such issues.

      If these debate people will say “anything to win” then anything includes racism, sexism. homophobia, etc. Then maybe their discussion or comfort or sanctity of their community isn’t worth anything in the first place. Maybe a community like this being polarized isn’t much of a bad thing b/c your own depiction of the reactios to the narrative seem like great evidence that Jessica (or anyone else similarly situated) should feel totally in despair about the community, its potential for discussion or the activity itself.

      Yup, the micropol movements lately haven’t been ‘successful’ at changing the whole community, but if what you say is true, this is more the result of existing bigotry-and their asserted claim to be bigots without facing ‘talk back’- than the result of an oppressed individual/individuals daring to be defiant in the face of such bigots.

      So a community that would “say anything” and doesn’t have the human conscience to at least recognize that such isms are bad and shouldn’t be supported isn’t one that we should worry about ‘being hurt’ because there are bigger problems in play.

      In terms of the call to judges, if it should be about the substantive explanation, it seems that you call for intervention on the basis of avoiding flame wars and finger pointing. It also seems that you assume judges don’t have substantive reasons to vote for such cases when they do. If such cases are so ”dumb” then who are the real dumb people–the ones who write the cases, or the ones who would rather say bigoted things instead of thinking of smart, persuasive answers?

    • Lin

      I’m going to start with the bottom of ‘Wolfgang’s’ post and work up. Trigger warning, because I’m going to say what I really think about the position, and its relation to the debate community. I apologize for any typos, this is really one large rant.

      I don’t think judges vote for these positions because they identify them. And it definitely isn’t just pulling at random heart strings. I’m sure that many of us here in the round have ran performances, many of us have beaten performances, but most of have not had even remotely the same level of impact that Amanda, Avi, Jalon, or Jessica have had on the debate community. The very fact that these four individuals come to mind when you think about performances in the past goes to show that they have had a lasting impact on the community. Additionally, their successes go to show that they have been winning their arguments on the flow and the messages encapsulated within the arguments have been accurate (about debate as an activity itself).

      If for even one moment you believe that debaters in the past who have captured the community spotlight did so only for the sake of the ballot, shame on you. There is absolutely no such thing as a guaranteed win when you enter a debate round. You can’t possibly think that every judge at the tournaments that the debaters you’ve mentioned competed at were performance hacks. How many performance hacks have you bumped into in the activity?

      Running such a personal positional position creates a gigantic risk for ridicule, additional harassment, and persecution. Bekah is right in her defense of Jessica on that front; do you think that accusations that she is making are being taken lightly, by anyone here? Including herself? She is risking potential law suits, challenging individuals that are in high positions of power…within both debate and the real world. Directors of debate camps have huge amounts of political capital in their circles. Hell, a large portion of folks related to debate are lawyers. The ramifications are tremendous. It is also no coincidence that many top debaters come from privilege; most are either relatively privileged, being able to afford all of these tournaments, camps, and coaches … or obscenely privileged, comfortably within the 1%.

      I want everyone to step back from the focus on the role of micropolitical arguments in debate, as well as the problem of sexual harassment in debate, to revisit the OTHER PROBLEM highlighted in this case. I don’t think the Occupy Movement is quoted in parallel with the narrative that Jessica reads. The very point of Occupy is the futility of struggling within societal power structures, struggling to absolutely no avail. Smitty points out very accurately that THE DEBATE ROUND is the ONLY FORUM, since no there is no other avenue of recourse. She tried to work within the system, and that system failed her. Jessica is struggling against oppressive power structures within debate as well as sexual harassment. To deny that is to empirically validate her argument on another level.

      Is it really so outrageous to think that a successful top lab debater with both capital and political capital within the system has enough coercive force to silence witnesses as well as discourage administrators from acting? I don’t think it is an implausible situation at all. It happens in the real world all day long. Hell, that’s what Occupy is struggling against, the fact that banks are too big to fail and a good number of people who did a lot of immoral financial things are immune from prosecution. I would like to think that debate is not as ugly as the real world but I don’t think that is the case. Isn’t that what the card by Debbie Hu is talking about? We are naive to think that debate is a special microcosm, but it sure as hell isn’t. The system really isn’t perfect – judicial activism exists for a reason – and for folks in law school, do recall what happened in the 1980s and 1990s when minority women were told to report abuse and sexual harassment to help centers.

      For anyone who wants Jessica to actually dedicate time to helping survivors of sexual harassment, I would totally agree if Jessica was reading about sexual harassment from a high school peer or teacher, or any scenario that is unrelated to debate. However this is not the case. There is no debate-sexual-harassment hotline. I am not at all belittling Bekah’s article, which I 100% and wholly agree with BUT ONLY when the narratives themselves do not implicate debate. PLEASE NOTE, that Amanda, Jalon, Avi, and Jessica HAVE EACH MADE STRONG SOCIAL COMMENTARY ON OUR DEBATE COMMUNITY, AS IT IS NOW, AND WHAT IS WRONG WITH IT. I can’t help but to emphasize enough that these narratives have all be about DEBATE. An aspect of debate, but DEBATE none the less. They are about controversial problems in debate, problems that run parallel in society, and cannot be resolved as simply as creating a website online, making phone calls, or talking to people in the cafeteria. When volunteers ask you to spare some time for gay rights or Greenpeace or the Peace Corp in front of your college library, how often do you stop? How often does anyone stop? How often do people carry out with it? Hell, why does judicial activism happen, instead of ‘legitimate’ forms of legal recourse?

      I guess, at the end of the day, I don’t have quite as formulated of a position, or argument, as I would like. However, I do think that underlying problem is that of the oppressive power structures that exist in debate. Yes, Jessica was a victim of sexual harassment, but the incident only happened because of the privilege to break curfew rules. And – of course assuming that her story is true – witnesses were too scared to speak about the incident, and the perpetrator denied it, which let to the administrators to ignore the incident. Drew, I don’t know you at all, I read your post, and I do believe you and the staff did your best to remedy the issue. Without any evidence you all could not act. However, rapists get away due to a lack of evidence all the time. That doesn’t mean that rape didn’t happen. That is the analogy that I wish everyone keeps in their mind when they consider Jessica’s account of the scenario.

      To close, I also am confused when you argue that these debaters failed. First off, none of them ever claimed to promise 100% solvency. But if you think that the discourse that resulted due to the performances has done nothing for the activity at all, then you are horribly mistaken. Minimally, the performances have done two things. One, they brought to light the problems themselves for scrutiny and consideration. Two, even if the solutions and considerations proposed by individual contributors to the dialogue are not adopted by the community as a whole, participants within that dialogue have their thoughts shaped by the dialogue itself. Sure, some people will not change their minds, but I guarantee you some folks have changed the way they see things. Others become willing to step forward with their own stories, and additionally, the community as a whole are forced to confront a problem that is truly present in the debate community. If the explosion of commentary online is not an indication, then I don’t know what is.

      Hell, it’s even got a lot of debate old timers coming back to give their two-cents. That speaks volumes. People who no longer connected with the activity have even come back…including me.

      • Lin

        Also, I agree 100% on all the things Chad and Smitty have said in regards to the function of micropolitical arguments in round. The categorical exclusion of them seems very silly to me.

      • Wolfgang Mittermeyer

        I want to briefly point out that you are really embellishing on the position much in the same way that I say some judges do this. For those of you who are reading this thread again I implore you to read Jessica’s case and just see the disparity in the quality of the post vs. the case itself. If any of you were in doubt, I hope this makes it clear. You’re right the Occupy Movement is not “quoted in parallel with the narrative that Jessica reads” thanks for proving my point. Stop reading more into a case than you should and giving it links and impacts that just aren’t there.

        • LDoutsider

          You assume that the people posting haven’t actually read Jessica’s case and/or aren’t fully aware of it’s strengths/weaknesses etc. You should stop asking people to just take your word for it regarding your assertion of the lack of quality in the case itself. You ever consider that folks may disagree with your conclusion after taking a full analysis of the AC? You have to prove your conclusions as well as anyone else. It’s not up to judges to do this work to “realize” the problems of the case–it’s the job of DEBATERS to say it IN ROUND. You seem to want judges to do the debating for debaters. If there aren’t links and impacts, then it’s up to debaters to point that out. If they can’t, they deserve to lose. Stop claiming that Lin and others are intervening for micropol cases when you are right here, advocating that people intervene in the other direction. Double standards = bad.

        • It seems more plausible that she’d make those links in the 1ar as x-aps to neg responses and win rounds on the flow rather than bumping into narrative hacks over and over and over at columbia.

        • Lin

          Thanks, Wolfgang, for capitalizing on a typo. I modified the sentence in order to better convey my meaning. If you really think there aren’t parallels between her instance of oppression and Occupy, then you are blind, or you aren’t a good reader, because I spelled it out very clearly for you.

          I’m sorry for being caustic, but I would be doing you a disservice to assume that you are ignorant enough to think that my GIGANTIC tirade defending Jessica is consistent with the statement that Occupy is not “quoted in parallel”. It IS quoted in parallel, the comparisons are CLEARLY there, and EVIDENTLY Jessica pointed those things out later in the round otherwise EVERYONE would be just as lost as you are right now about what the relation is between her narrative and Occupy.

          To deny that she did that work later is to say that people are BLINDLY voting for Jessica. That is a terrible insult to everyone that she debated all tournament, since apparently she compelling enough to reach finals while spewing nonsense.

          Can you reread what you’re posting and think about what you are implying? Also, why is it that you are the only person who thinks that the narrative is so contradictory and inconsistent?

        • Rebar Niemi

          You just sound like a sore loser now.

          • Oskar

            Yea dude, Rebar is right stop trying to extend the flamewar. Based on Lin’s last post you are obviously either a) trying to exacerbate consternation or b) just unable to read. You should really be ashamed of yourself ‘Wolfgang’.

      • Concerned Citizen

        “trigger warning”

        You all keep using these words….

  • Hi semis spectator. Thanks for posting and watching my round.

    First off, I’d like to say that when I conceded to Andrew’s suggestion, I was being completely sincere. It might not have seemed that way since we were in the heat of debating, but I truly agree now with trigger warnings.

    That said, I didn’t want to be silenced simply because it’s an uncomfortable issue. I am, without a doubt, very sympathetic to those who are extremely sensitive due to past experiences, but the issues ARE uncomfortable, and that’s what makes them especially important to discuss. You’re right though that I should have asked individuals who weren’t prepared to handle my case to leave. Though I was fairly confident that those in the room knew my position after the first few prelims, I should have made sure. I DO want to jar debaters from their routine, but I do NOT want to traumatize anyone.

    For the record, the individual you’re referring to talked to me before the round started and from our conversation (and even before it), knew full well what was going to happen in the round. A trigger warning would not have helped even in this case since this individual decided to watch the round regardless. This is true of all of the observers. As noted by my judges in semis, everyone present volunteered to be there to witness the debate.

    Finally, I propose a counternarrative to all my opponents as a suggestion for engaging the case. I never say that opponents should tell me a specific situation they’ve experienced, let alone provide details. The point is to prove that they are willing and will solve the issue better than I can, through their own words.

    I just want to note – I understand that everyone has different feelings about my position. No matter what your opinion on my case was, remember that we are all still here, as a community, discussing the issues that I brought up in my rounds at Columbia. I did not make people uncomfortable for no reason. I said that if my judges gave me their ballots so I could spread my message, we as a community would be forced to confront these issues. And here we are, on this post and Bekah’s post, finally talking about it.

    If you have any further concerns, you should contact me directly at jessica.xu23@gmail.com

  • This thread is totally bonkers to me:

    (1) The thought that sexual harassment is not an issue worth talking about in debate rounds strikes me as absurd. If debate rounds are the “wrong forum”, what is the right forum? The issue that Jessica’s argument raises is that when the person in question *did* attempt to go through the proper channels, her complaints were swept under the rug. If this isn’t an argument in favor of using debate rounds as a site to discuss these issues (especially in light of the fact that you *can’t* silence someone’s voice during their speech time – this is the logic behind “captive audience” arguments), then I don’t know what is.

    (2) There are plenty of legitimate arguments you can make about micropolitical positions, or positions that seek to discuss issues other than the topic. Some of the arguments made in this thread are quite persuasive (e.g. that switch-side debate creates incentives to come up with ways to beat micropolitical positions rather than constructively engage them); others are not (e.g. the argument that Jessica is lying; the argument that her motives are tainted by her desire to win a debate round; this notion that a tournament invitation’s mention of the topic constitutes a “contract” binding upon those who attend the tournament; etc.). Regardless, the point is that you should be making all of these arguments *in the round*, not trying to persuade judges to resolve these sorts of debates before anyone has even made an argument. People disagree about what arguments are kosher in debate; that’s a good thing, at least if you believe that stylistic and intellectual diversity is a good thing. But these disagreements should get resolved by debating about them, not by attempting to sidestep debate.

    (3) I have no idea who the relevant parties in this incident are, but the “accused” is totally within his rights to post his own account of this incident, or to pursue any legal remedies that he believes are appropriate. Regardless, the notion that he is the true victim in this scenario strikes me as highly unlikely. I don’t know if y’all realize this, but 1/4 of women are raped in their lifetime, and countless more experience sexual harassment of some form or another. The reason that many of those women do not come forward is because they fear the same sort of dismissive, distrustful reactions that have appeared in this thread (in fact, I’m just waiting for one of the anonymous posters to assert that the woman in this scenario was “asking for it”). The deck is by and large stacked against the victims in our criminal justice system, and the idea that men – including the man in this scenario – are the ones victimized by false accusations of rape or sexual assault is largely a stalking horse.

    • We can’t know anything about the facts of this case and it’s irresponsible and inappropriate to speculate about them in this forum.

      • LDoutsider

        Nothing about what you said is responsive to what Alex said. Alex is speaking in generalities and talking about structural and social disincentives of people to address such issues through either normal or ‘micropolitical’ means. Just because Alex disagrees with your stance that such positions shouldn’t be argued in debate doesn’t make him more “irresponsible” than you and your comments on these threads. It just means you have different opinions (although I think Alex’s is the right one).

        • You’re wrong. Alex’s assertions about the relative probability of one “side” being more right or wrong than the other is a baseless and irresponsible assertion, and in all likelihood a drastic oversimplification.

          Talking about problems of sexism and harassment is valuable. Asserting that our background knowledge of these issues gives us insight into this *specific* incident, and then commenting on that, is not only not valuable, it is harmful. This is not a forum for making or adjudicating accusations about incidents we were not involved in.

      • I think this point is much better directed at those who accused Jessica of lying or making up this story to win debate rounds than it is at me. My point is that these claims are largely inconsistent with the realities of our criminal justice system and the experiences of real-life victims of rape and sexual assault. I may have over-stated my claim when I asserted that it is unlikely that *this* individual is the real victim, but the notion that men, on the aggregate, are victimized by spurious accusations of sexual harassment and rape moreso than women are victimized by *actual* sexual harassment and rape is utter nonsense. Talking in broad terms about sexual violence against women is not the same as “speculating” about the facts of this case, and the notion that this discussion should be off-limits because there is some undefined possibility that this individual is innocent is what’s actually irresponsible.

    • LDoutsider

      Alex, as more evidence for your point, you ever consider the irony of folks clusteirng on boards like this…or teams colluding in such positions in order to — to quote some coaches “stop” the person running these types of cases, in other words, to shut them up so they can act like the problem doesn’t exist? Such actions oddly enough serve as more evidence for the micropol cases— people having the top priority to sweep the issue under the rug instead of actually caring. If folks don’t like ‘guerilla’ tactics, then we have to give them real opportunities to be heard and taken seriously. Saying “don’t say it in a debate round” serves as more evidence for the reason to use such extraordinary means to get heard/ treated like a person because we haven’t given them a real alternative.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I think number 4 and 7 have to be emphasized. What is the neg’s choice when they encounter this position? Read skep? Read patriarchy good? Read a PIC of Occupy and talk about the experiences of American Indians?

    The problem with the position is that it labels all those in the debate community sexist pigs, and essentially gives the person in that position no choice but to trivialize the issue or lose. I know the argument says that the loss is the point, but does that seem fair? Everyone needs to be punished because of the act of 2? Losing to the position will get people to talk about it,sure, but in the end we know the real result: debaters will formulate crazy strats to combat it, only further trivializing this important issue.

    In addition, the argument criticizes cloistering debate, so then why does the argument seem like a K, citing Butler and the like, rather than an actual story. What does Occupy have to do with it? Are libertarian debaters inherently misogynists It just seems like more of a political statement rather than a micropoitical position.

    I don’t know, I would just have to agree that a debate round seems like the wrong place to do it. This issue isn’t actually related to debate in my (peanut gallery) opinion. If the same thing happened at a band camp, would the correct reaction be to write a piece about sexual harassment? This is a larger problem of teenagers just being desensitized to the kind of shit that they say, and hats the problem that needs to be addressed rather than just some invisible barrier to women in debate.

  • A word on admissible content: this website will not host posts that involve damaging accusations of criminal or similar behavior concerning specific individuals or institutions (including other debate camps). These matters are rightly the concern of legal institutions, not debate message boards. General discussions of the importance of taking a stance against sexual harassment are fair game.

  • anon984794873890

    trigger warning
    while we’re on the topic of sexual harassment in debate, there’s a major issue we need to acknowledge and address. i know firsthand of harassment committed by ryan hamilton at vbi, but i fear coming forward publicly because of my standing job with the organization. i will avoid speculating so as to report only what i know to be true. 1. i have seen ryan make inappropriate lewd sexual comments to david mcneil repeatedly. david has told him he feels uncomfortable but asked him to stop. ryan did not. 2. i have heard that concerns about this behavior have been passed on to mike bietz, but i do not know for certain if this is true. if not, i apologize, but it’s been repeated by a bunch of people as if fact. if so, and if the given excuse (they’re close friends, so bietz defends him) is true, that’s awful. i hope it is not true but would like to raise the question here. 3. i have heard of ryan making a comment about two then-students that he would like to have a threesome with them, directly in front of other camp administrators. nothing was done. that is not okay.

    this is awful. ryan hamilton should not be allowed to work at a camp or other institution with children and definitely not as a security person who keeps them safe. vbi, please do something about this and ensure ryan never comes back again. i will be upset if he is back with me this summer. please get rid of him.

    • Ghost of Christmas Past

      When Eric Palmer coached at Pine Crest, he slept with his student. NSD, please fire him.

  • One post and I’m out. Straight up, we’ve had this same flamewar in different varieties every year around this same time for nearly a decade now. Despite this, at least from what I can see, nothing has empirically changed. The only “change” I’ve seen is the community becoming more and more polarized after each one. I didn’t think it was possible, but all this “discussion” is going to do is create an even more dichotomized community than we had before.

  • I’m interested in other women’s reactions to my position I would appreciate contributions
    or suggestions. I’d especially like to hear from those with personal experiences. You can anonymously email me jessica.xu23@gmail.com

    • This is not unique to women.

      • Trigger Warning.

        My name is Tony Godfrey. I am Bekah Boyer’s roommate. I was also a debater through high school and college. I have since high school, and immediately post-college, been diagnosed with Post-Traumtic Stress Disorder, Chronic Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and recently those have evolved in to Bipolar, or Manic Depressive Disorder.

        There is nothing that needs to be anonymous about my story or my experience.

        Neither is there anything “feminine” about my experience.

        I am male. And masculine (ask any number of girls).

        I have also been sexually abused. For a prolonged period of time. By an older male. If you can do it sexually, with someone of the opposite sex or someone of the same sex, I have done it with both. Orally, anally, vaginally, etc. Even, seriously, as Christopher Walken would describe, “kimsche kimsche” of the ear.

        I no way does my gender, my sex, or my socioeconomic status deligitamize my experience. Neither does my debate experience, something I would call as highly successful but my total lack of TOC bids would call highly meaningless, devaluate my experience or its relevance to the community.

        Neither, however, do I think that the debate community, or “debate forum,” is the proper forum to seek ‘justice.’ As intelligent, well-read and well-conversed as most of us in the debate community may be, the fact remains that debate is a competitive, voluntary, extracurricular activity. This is a far cry from the mandatory systems we as a society, and our government, has created in terms of advocacy, justice and mediational systems. I have a very high respect for debate. It is not a criminal court room. It is not a civil court room. It is not a meeting room for mediation. To assume that is, is a gross over-valuation of the activity, a gross devaluation of the experiences to which you claim to have, and/or a naive expectation of the world.

        My name is Tony Godfrey. I was raped for a prolonged period of time as a child. I am a white, upper-middle class male. I do not want your ballot.

        • iwasatcolumbia

          I think the point of Jessica’s position is not to seek justice for offenses that she may or may not have experienced (in the AC it is not explicit) but to address the sexist mentality of the debate community and warn others who don’t know about occurrences of sexual harassment, specifically in debate. In the AC, she makes it clear that her goal is to change the attitude of the debate community in order to prevent future instances of sexual harassment, not indict certain individuals for crimes. Also, I’d just like to note that your situation is very different than the one that Jessica has spoken about. It is clear that your very unfortunate history of sexual abuse (It is terrible that those things happened to you) should be dealt with by the “justice and mediational systems” that you mentioned. However, it seems the issues that Jessica brings up involving sexism in debate, the trend of sexual harassment (also noting that harassment is less severe than rape and other sexual abuses) happening in debate settings in which the victim and offender are both debaters, and the lack of action on the part of debate camp administrations that should be addressed by the debate community specifically.

          • anon101

            I agree with Mr. Godfrey. The reason is because you said it yourself, administrators should take responsibility. Since when did high school debaters assume responsibility for something that most of them had no part in causing?

          • a b

            I think we all have some part in causing this. No one pushed for help for victims before at camps, for instance. No one got rid of the elitist culture at camps that glamorize power and permitted him to be where he was at the time.

          • Erik Baker

            “Harassment is less severe than rape and other sexual abuses.” The thought that you could even begin to separate sexual harassment from the rape culture that engenders assault is ludicrous.

  • anon101

    Has anyone actually verified her story? I don’t mean to call anyone a liar, but I think its unreasonable to assume that the accused would agree 100% with what the victim claims. And if they do disagree, it seems like the classic case of her word against his. Do we just default to the victim? Isn’t it innocent until proven guilty?

    • “I don’t mean to call anyone a liar.”

      Yeah, you do.

      And, if you think that the validity of a micropolitical position is reducible to just one instance of sexual harassment, then you’re missing the point. I would wager that the number of women in the activity who have experienced some degree of harassment or degradation is higher than you know, and that too few women are actually willing to speak out about it, probably because they figure their story will be casually and condescendingly dismissed by people like you.

      • anon101

        I just wanted to clarify; judging from the tone it appears that there was a misunderstanding. I’m merely saying that the story could be true or could be false. For instance, in a court of law, both sides get to present their story. I’m saying in this case there is only one side, that of the victims. All I’m saying is that perhaps we should hear the other side before we judge. Just like we don’t calling the losing side in court liars, I don’t think saying parts of the story are contestable makes her a liar either.

        • anon101

          And again, do you think that the accused agrees 100% with this story? If they don’t, I don’t see any way to rectify this he said, she said. Again, should we default to the victim? That seems to be the case because there isn’t empirical evidence. Past precedent doesn’t validate this one instance because the cases are separate. Plus, precedent would say the onus is on the accuser, not the accused.

          And God Forbid, but I don’t think we can discount that the story could be a misrepresented as well. I want to preface this next statement with a disclaimer, because taken out of context it will be VERY controversial. But we all know people who have cried wolf, we see people false claim that they are having the baby of a famous celebrity, etc. Intuition seems to say that no one would lie about something like this, but people do, so we can never know with 100% certainty.

          If there is reasonable doubt, how can we justify punishment?

          • I don’t like to get involved with these things, but this issue is very important to me. The likelihood of someone lying about this is slim to none — the backlash, the shame involved makes it almost impossible for someone to lie about it. There are two main reasons why we are “suspicious” of reports like this and tend to err innocence on the side of the accused 1) the most publicized stories surrounding sexual assault are the infamous, so in a kind of reporting bias, we associate all to be like them and 2) privilege. Straight up privilege. I work with survivors and am taught to BELIEVE the victim that something happened. As a survivor, I can personally attest to how painful it is when someone doesn’t believe you when you finally work up the courage to tell them. I am disgusted that this is even an issue. Sure, after reading the case, there may be technical issues with a warranted ballot story etc, BUT
            “credibility” is NOT a proper indictment of this case.

          • You’re misunderstanding my criticism of your argument. I’m going to guess you are friends or teammates with the student who is being accused of sexual harassment, and are trying to clear his name. However, you are erroneously trying to separate the debate about whether or not that particular student is guilty from the debate about whether or not sexual harassment is a systemic problem in debate (which it is), and how we ought to fix it. You may be right that the accused student is innocent. You might also be wrong. My particular concern is that your argument will be used to silence debate on the matter and prevent anything from getting done. The argument “______ did nothing wrong” could be very easily be translated to “Nothing to see here. There’s no problem, folks. No need to address this issue.”

            Also, if you maintain that there is still a chance that sexual harassment or abuse did take place, then perhaps you shouldn’t imply that Jessica is making the whole thing up. I’m not a woman, nor have I ever been a victim of sexual abuse, but I think I can reasonably infer that few things would be more insulting to an abuse victim than hearing someone else imply that she is somehow making up her story for personal gain (like winning a debate round).

          • I would like to clarify the statement about credibility. I think that a micro pol position, if run, should inspire a conversation about this issue a la the hockaday round robin. My vehement response was a) due to its deeply personal nature b) fear of the “move along” type of response that fritz outlined above. Things aren’t as black and white as “guilt” or “innocence” — what matters is that something happened that incited a response. That perception should be validated, as should the “accused” sincerity/apologetic/”innocence.” This is just another reason why indicting the case’s “credibility” is not only technically flawed but morally flawed as well.

          • Also, I am speaking to the issue in the world. Not in the debate world. This is not the forum for specificity in this sort of thing; but it is something the community needs to address.

          • anon101

            To clarify, I am not affiliated with anyone that has been accused of sexual harassment. These are just my thoughts on the case.

            I agree that sexual harassment is a bad thing and I think it would be naive of me to say that sexual harassment doesn’t exist in the debate community. But at the end of the day, people were punished i.e. judges micro-politically dropped debaters who had nothing to do with the incidents the case talked about or sexual harassment in general. Now if the the argument is simply that sexual harassment exists, therefore vote for me so I can tell people that it exists, then that seems counterintuitive because groups and organizations already do a fantastic job of that outside of a debate round.

            But more importantly, I think its unjust to drop debaters who have done nothing wrong. The fact that sexual harassment exists is not their fault. It’s another story if there is evidence that they participated in it, but if they’re innocent, why punish them? The justification is that so the case can be performed later on, but I just disagree with the means with which this occurs.

          • Still not buying it. Sure, most of the people (if not all of them) Jessica debated aren’t guilty of sexual harassment. However, if they are arguing that Jessica should lose the round (for whatever reason), then they are just as guilty of using the ballot for punitive reasons. People forget that debate is just a game of determining whose discourse is most deserving of the ballot. This isn’t always achieved through substantive, topical argumentation. If your strategy in the round is to prevent discourse about sexual harassment from occurring, or mattering, then I think you rightfully submit yourself to the potential use of the ballot as a punitive instrument. If you read topicality against that position, for example, then you are claiming that your right to debate against a predictable, topical aff is more important than Jessica’s right to proliferate discussion about sexual harassment in debate, and therefore the judge should give credence to your arguments instead of hers. As callous as I make that strategy sound, it’s a totally reasonable and defensible position. However, if you aren’t winning those arguments, then you aren’t demonstrating that your discourse deserves to be endorsed or proliferated, and you deserve to lose the round. It’s not like micropol is some unbeatable, impossible-to-answer position that people unfairly lose to. Debaters who read micropol give their opponents the opportunity to offer some other discourse and defend why it is more deserving of reproduction in future rounds. There are always arguments that can be made against cases. There are always framework arguments that can be made to exclude arguments. If Jessica’s position unfairly deprives some people of the ballot (as you claim), that isn’t a reason she should be criticized for reading her position. Rather, it’s an argument you should make in round to try to exclude her advocacy or demand the ballot be used to reject her instead (i.e. by reading theory and being prepared to defend why fairness issues are more important than discursive issues).

            Look, I don’t know Jessica Xu at all. I’ve never met her or seen her debate. I’m not some micropolitics hack either (I really wasn’t a fan of topic null args last year, for example). But the criticisms that you are making against the position are either (a) unfounded or (b) could most charitably be described as simply arguments you should make against the position if you debate it. I think that it is excellent when debaters stand up for causes they believe in, even if they are criticized for it. I think when people like you chastise debaters like Jessica for reading micropol positions, it discourages debaters from advocating for causes that are important to them, which is contradictory to the educational goals of the activity.

          • anon101

            I guess we disagree about the role of the ballot. I can’t speak for the circuit crowd but I know that when I or people I am friends with (more regional debaters) register for tournaments, we want to debate the resolution. I think that sexual harassment is an important issue, but just like people don’t go to debate camp to learn valuable skills like math, I believe issues like these need to be hashed outside of a debate round. The tournament invitation promised the Jan/Feb resolution (people paid hundreds in registration/ judge fees, not to mention lodging) to debate what they prepared for, the resolution, not micro-politics that one debater arbitrarily decided to enforce on the rest of the pool.

          • anon101

            Substantively, the problem I have with your proposal is what if the aff. reads a topical AC and then the neg. just reads their micro-political position. The round literally devolves into the role of the ballot, if the aff. wins topical education better they win and vice versa. That’s good debate?

            Maybe the case is strategically beatable but I fail to see how role of the ballot arguments apply later on in life. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

          • a b

            “That’s good debate?” We don’t seem to have a problem when someone reads a shit ton of problem that extends to flame wars online. Also, begging the question. Good debate would actually be future rounds where both debaters discuss these issues, presumably, according to these micropolitical positions.

          • anon101

            Whats the point of even having a resolution then? A formality? Something that anyone can choose to ignore for micro-political issues?

            Also, people pay HUNDREDS of dollars to come to tournaments. Oftentimes, a tournament like Columbia is one of the few non-local tournaments debaters can attend. THE TOURNAMENT INVITATION PROMISED THEM DEBATES ABOUT THE TOPIC, not micro-political issues. That is what they expected to get, what they prepared hard for.

            And if thats not an issue, people pay thousands of dollars for debate camp too. Lets just tell them we’ll do drills, but really only conduct modules on micro-politics. They shouldn’t mind; this stuff’s more important anyways.

          • a b

            can i card this and add it to my a2 fairness, a2 education, a2 philosophy file, a2 util impact cards files? thanks

          • anon101

            Go for it but I wouldn’t because people actually pay for that stuff i.e. people pay for theory focus weeks, philosophy week, etc. Also philosophy, util or not util, and even theory wouldn’t be the same because they all have to do with the topic. Therefore they are fair game. You may not think that theory has a place, but just reading a reason why you should prefer your definition is still a theoretical argument. And obviously unclear resolutional terms need to be defined.

            I fail to see where the topic prescribes discussion on sexual harassment though.

          • Thelonelywolf

            Are you going solely off of what debaters pay for? Does money prescribe the value of an argument?

            Debaters pay to have good experiences at debate camp. Some debaters were not granted this, i.e. the ones who experienced sexual harassment followed by lack of due process on the part of the staff. Therefore speaking about it can be considered “fair game.”

            We both know that ridiculous util impacts, theory impacts “changing debate” and fairness vs. education arguments, among many other arguments you are mentioning, stray far from the resolution. Micropol is almost no different. Have you read Jacob Nail’s or LDOutsider’s post? I’d highly recommend it. They can answer back all your arguments.

          • Thelonelywolf

            Your predictability arguments can be construed as quite offensive. It’s as if you’re saying that your right to a predictable debate is more important than other debaters’ rights to stand up for issues they believe in.

          • anon101

            I think you mistake what I am actually advocating. Either a) there are constraints on what types of education different forums can promote or b) there are not. If b is true, fuck it lets teach math at a debate camp.

            I assume your response is that sexual harassment falls within constraints. But tournaments are advertised as providing resolutional debates. When we sign up for them, we don’t expect micro-political ones. Allowing micro-politics into the realm of argumentation would be misleading.

            And finally I assume your response is that sexual harassment devalues the experience of these individuals which would answer my previous argument. Thats a valid point but as I said before, doesn’t justify INNOCENT, KEY WORD INNOCENT debaters losing. I repeat, if they have evidence against an offender, then that is a different story, but these are INNOCENT students who even promote positive discourse outside of a debate round. So why punish them inside a debate round?

            And lets say I grant you credence all your arguments against theory, etc. That just proves that we shouldn’t have theory debate. Was debate 5 years ago such a terrible thing? Two wrongs don’t justify a right.

          • If your opponent reads an AC that says teaching math is good and proceeds to explain integration by parts, and you can’t prove that T outweighs calculus education, then yeah, you deserve to lose. You got outdebated. Your discussion of innocence doesn’t make any sense. Both debaters are innocent. One just debated better. You have no right to the ballot which you are being deprived of. You have no right to ignore arguments that you think are bad for debate and expect to win anyway. Implicit violation of tournament invitations isn’t an impact. It’s also non-unique a thousand times over (see Ks, theory, etc.)

            Micropol probably doesn’t solve, and switch side debate is probably better. So make those arguments in round. If you expect judges to just drop your opponents on face because you didn’t feel like debating them, you’re gonna have a bad time.

          • Theory debate emerged in the activity partially for what I think are legitimate reasons. Prior to theory, you could simply write cases that made the resolution analytically true by defining the resolution in the right way, or on the neg, you could just run a million insufficient burdens and pre-standards arguments. I think that debate does need some way to cope with these kinds of strategies, but I think the thing one naturally finds problematic about these strategies is that they disrupt the point of the activity–roughly, to reward the debater who more effectively/compelling makes arguments for their side of the resolution. Debate should be a test of one’s capacity to generate and effectively articulate arguments for or against the topic. And it turns out that if you exploit certain strategies, it disrupts debate from rewarding the debater who displays this capacity. When you define the resolution such to make it analytically true you have effectively avoided the burden of making substantive arguments in favor of the resolution. This is, what I think, the point of topicality is–topicality is necessary because it gives us a way to exclude definitions which disrupt the point of debate in the first place (to reward the superior debater, conceived of as the one who makes better arguments for their side of the resolution). But theory, from it’s inception, has always been exploited as a strategy, a way of getting out of the normal burden of having to make arguments against the resolution in the same way that a priori arguments or unfair definitions did. I think the overwhelming presence of theory in today’s debate rounds is a testament to that. Theory debates are really horrendous to watch nowadays, and a frightening number of rounds terminate in trivial, confused, theory debates that were probably unnecessary.

            The problem that I see with education arguments, is that whereas fairness arguments typically appeal to the nature of the activity as the source of justification for being a relevant concern (that debate shouldn’t arbitrarily skew the advantages towards one debater because the better debater is supposed to be rewarded), education arguments often don’t appeal to the nature of the activity, and when they do, it is in a confused way. When someone says “the point of debate is education”, in some sense they are right, but the connection to education is that we think of debate (giving normative arguments for or against certain moral, social, or political propositions in a competitive speech activity) as being an educational thing to do which is why it is funded by schools. It does not follow that we should therefore change our most basic presuppositions about what debate is if debater if they can win an argument which says that rewarding something else would be more educational/generally beneficial or something like that. While I think there are probably good arguments why the resolution should always be considered as a ground rule for the debate (barring certain theoretical arguments), I’m not sure why it is necessarily one’s burden to always have to defend switch-side resolution debate against typical micropolitical or discoursive or education types of arguments. At least, I’m not sure why there shouldn’t be an overwhelming presumption that one’s basic burden is to defend one’s side of the resolution better than the other debater, and that theory should basically be a tool for exceptional circumstances in which the system breaks down (e.g. abusive definitions).

            It is easy of course, to challenge me for making a lot of assumptions, for instance, in using a phrase like “the purpose of topicality is x” or “the purpose of theory is y”. My point is to give my best estimate for what the historical rationale for allowing theory to enter into what we consider legitimate strategies, because I think that it important to think about why something so curious as debate about debate even came to be in the activity.

          • p.s. i didn’t even know anything about what happened at this tournament when i made that post. congrats to everyone who did well

          • Rebar Niemi

            I’ve always been in love with this innocence argument. It is so privileged and naive. You aren’t innocent. No one is innocent. Stop pretending like the world doesn’t happen around you. We are all here. We are all participating one way or another.

            You buy clothes? You support slavery, violence, etc.
            You eat? You support slavery, genocide, etc.
            You drive? You support slavery, genocide, extinction, etc.
            You debate? You support sexism, racism, classism, and inequalities of all shapes and sizes.

            These aren’t links of omission. They’re just the hidden underlying structure of the everyday privileges that your life is made up of.

          • Your conception of “innocence” and “guilt” renders them empty concepts. Asserting that simple existence makes one complicit in every aspect of the frame of one’s existence is just nonsense.

            I have a right to live, eat, etc. If it is the case that slavery and genocide are such common phenomena that nothing we eat can be produced without inputs from slaveholding, genocidal sources (a premise which I profoundly doubt), then I’m not responsible for “supporting” these activities if my other alternative is to starve or go broke.

            Telling a kid or a coach who has never done or said anything out of line that they “support” sexism because they choose to debate in a world where other debaters are sexist, is not just nonsense, it’s insulting nonsense.

          • Rebar Niemi


            Existence does make you complicit in existence.

            Innocence and guilt are empty concepts without consistent applications. That’s why I think the innocence thing is so preposterous. More importantly our complicity in the suffering of others exists whether we like it or not. You live and are comfortable. Others are suffering. Can you rationally explain why this is so? Why do they deserve to suffer and you are not responsible for their suffering if you cause it so that you don’t? I can’t answer these questions in any way that doesn’t terminate in “ultimately we are all complicit in our existence and we have to bear the burden of being which is that our being trades off with other forms of being.”

            I mean dude you don’t have to philosophically justify your life, but don’t defend the right to be irresponsible, ignorant, and privileged.

            Also, let’s be real. Kids and coaches do and say things that are out of line every single tournament and camp. Don’t act like you don’t know. I can almost guarantee you that if we knew the identity of our anonymous friend we could come up with quite a few things “they’ve done.”

          • Rebar Niemi

            You don’t understand how talking about what is important in terms of education, fairness, and the games that we allow people in their formative adolescent years to participate in is relevant to your life.

            You don’t understand how talking about the integral and core purpose of an activity and what values it should embody is important to you.

            Notice that I phrased that as statements not questions. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

          • a b

            “people don’t go to debate camp to learn valuable skills like math” MATH HUTT CREW. ROLL OUT!

          • anondebater523

            I completely agree with anon101 that there is a clear missing link between awareness being good and the judge having an obligation to spread sexual harassment awareness. Absent explicit role of the ballot arguments for why the judge has some external obligation (which I don’t believe were made by the micropolitical debater), the presumption is that the judge’s role is to decide who did the better debating as per the wording on the ballot. In the grand scheme of things, global warming is a much bigger issue than sexual harassment, but absent arguments for why the being a judge generates an obligation to stop global warming, a debater shouldn’t get picked up for preaching about how great paperless debate is because debaters use absurd amounts of paper which leads to global warming. Like anon101 said, we can always talk about something that is more important out of round, but the judge only has an obligation of deciding on who did the better debating, as is constrained by the ballot. Absent this constraint, debate would turn into an activity where the resolution didn’t matter and everyone was an activist for a cause.

  • Re: Complainers

    What’s your solution? Have judges drop micropolitical positions on face? There goes every K and theory shell you’ve ever written. Those claim to create real world change. I’m pretty sure most theory debaters don’t create positive change in the community and don’t actually believe they will. Most K debaters aren’t Marxists. They all link to your unimportant and unfalsifiable speculations about intention.

    Maybe your solution is for judges not to intervene and to instead force debaters to win on the line-by-line. In which case, why are you complaining? That’s exactly what micropol debaters have been doing. Even if your criticisms are accurate, it’s up to debaters facing micropol to make and win those criticisms in round.

    • anondebater523

      It seems that the problem with micropolitical cases, especially with deeply personal ones like this one, is that even if debaters spread through role of the ballot dumps/skep/topicality shells and are clearly ahead on the flow, the judge will intervene because they feel bad for the person/don’t want to look like a jerk for voting them down. Their deeply emotional nature seems to cloud the judgement of judges and vote them up out of sympathy/protecting their image.

      • sjadler

        I’m trying to stay out of the larger conversation, but this part is just patently untrue.

        For one, plenty of judges hold the exact opposite bias. Plenty of people whom my students otherwise liked as judges told me straight-up that under no condition would they ever vote for a micropolitical position. Beyond my own students, I’ve witnessed judges intervening against micropolitics and admitting it openly e.g. Dave McGinnis voted against Avi Arfin in outrounds of Stanford because “you said I didn’t have to vote for you if I didn’t want to.” (This isn’t disparaging Dave’s decision–just noting that if there’s a bias for these positions, there’s certainly an opposite and stronger one against micropolitics.)

        You also seem to have a flawed conception of what it means to “clearly [be] ahead on the flow.” Sure, some of the time you can defeat micropolitics using flow tricks, dropped arguments, or the like. I know because I did this in outrounds of Berkeley my senior year. But at the same time, have you never seen a good debater collapse to one or two really important issues and successfully weigh them against a spread or a series of dropped blips? Because I have, and it seems like successful prioritization and weighing–not judge bias–is the reason for micropolitical victories “even when behind on the flow.”

        For example, if you win an argument that micropolitics is not “topical,” but the micropolitical debater wins an argument that topicality is a bad norm for the judge to apply for X reason, those arguments clash with one another. You are right that the opponent has won a flow argument, but not necessarily the interaction between the two.

        Look, I get that micropolitics is a hot button issue, and I get that it can seem unfair to some students. I just don’t think there’s any bias in favor of the positions in the community, and if there is, it certainly isn’t any more so than “theory hacks,” “K hacks,” or “deont hacks.” I agree with Jacob that some objections to micropolitics are valid, but they are arguments that should be made in round–not presumed ahead of time.

  • Shout out to Andrew O’Donohue, the most underrated debater in the community. 5 bid rounds! If he gets a bid later in the year, he’s definitely the one I’m rooting for in the at-large selection. Also, friendliest person I’ve ever met.

    • In light of all the negativity surrounding some of what happened at this tournament, this comment is refreshing.

      Andrew O’Donahue is one of the most talented debaters I’ve ever met and probably the most skilled without a bid. Our round at Sunvite was the most enjoyable and intellectually engaging round of the year (for me) and I was amazed to learn he is 1) only a junior, I believe, and 2) bidless. His clarity is incredible and he is genuinely the nicest, most polite guy in debate. He was one of only two people I’ve debated all year who expressed interest in learning more about the positions I run and he approached everything with respect and a desire to expand his knowledge. Friendliest competitor of all time, no doubt. His presence in the community is something we should value, and I’m pulling for him to do big things next year (and this year).

  • JacobN1

    I don’t like this flame war as much. Can we just go back to making fun of Martin?

  • no way

    I can’t be the only person in the community who agrees with the social issues projects raise but still think they are just as stupid as time cube and omega point. The ballot story in this one is particularly terrible – it never even tells WHY sexual harrassment exists (it obviously does, but it’s a needed link), why this issue is particularly important to discuss, why out of round can’t solve (personally I don’t fucking care about you as a person in round, I’m much more likely to be receptive out of round), etc. The warrant is pick me up to raise awareness – that must be true, we all know how much Jalon getting to doubles helped eliminate racism in debate (/sarcasm).

    Andrew deserved the bid.

    • What are you talking about? The omega point is badass.

      • oldmemories

        “When will we have sex” – Best CX Question in History.

        • oldmemories

          ***To clarify – this is referring a round years ago in Quarters at TOC featuring the grand Omega Point.

          • lol ur wrong

            ***To clarify – this is wrong. The round was in Octas.

        • “Every possible permutation.”

  • Aside from various technical glitches which kept Columbia not running extremely smoothly, I was generally pleased by the argumentation I saw at a finals bid tournament. I was happy to see that as opposed to repeating their same cases from Lex, a lot of good debaters took risks and made some interesting arguments (like Gerritt and Andrew from Timothy Christian breaking out a racism AC on crack cocaine sentencing.)

    I also want to just give a shout out to Andrew O’Donohue, who I have the immense pleasure in coaching (Collegiate AO) for getting to his 5th bid round without securing the bid. It’s a bit of a set back, but I’m fairly confident we’ll secure at least 1 bid before the year ends, if not a full qual. Also, a shout out to Nathan Ewing-Crystal (Collegiate NE) for clearing at his first varsity tournament and then clearing past his runoffs.

    /tl;dr Good job Andrew and Nathan!

  • loldebate

    I do not think that running micropolitical positions advocate some cases helpfully. This tournament brought about an issue that definitely should be recognized in the community. However, more people should find out what has occurred at this tournament in order to make sure no one gets dropped by these arguments again, because they just trivialize the importance of what Jessica was saying.

    Those who didn’t go to columbia, look at jessica’s wiki:

    • anon94

      noooooooo please no flame war

      • a b

        you’re beyond late

    • People need to start positions like this with a trigger warning. I would appreciate postings to stories with triggers to also have a trigger warning.

      • loldebate

        The problem with these arguments is that they seem to predicate some type of strategic purpose; when Aracelis Biel specifically asked to not hear the AC, or gave Jessica Xu the option to go to finals and give Collegiate AO with the bid, she refused; this type of behavior I find extremely problematic with micropolitical positions… i dont understand why someone would do such a thing, or even write an article about this type of gender argumentation.

        • TheBerkeleyBear

          Or going to the TOC would help further her movement. If there’s any reasonable credence to be given to Jessica, we have to give it to her considering how much of a disservice we’d do by being skeptical of any future person looking to come forward and talk about such a hurtful experience and important message.

          • loldebate

            this is also a problem; how was jalon’s message received when he read that at ToC? I just have a problem on why Jessica is reading this position as of this moment, instead of earlier. If she truly wanted to inform people of the problem, why did she not tell any authorities? This highlights not only a problem with micropolitics, but how debate should fix these problems.

          • TheBerkeleyBear

            I already responded to a lot of your assumptions. You don’t know who Jessica is and why she might postpone telling people what happened. Personally, I’d be very frightened and stigmatized if I had her experience. As far as Jalon goes, he was undoubtedly an outsider to the community. I don’t think the same is true for Jessica (who’s also coached by Bob). People didn’t seem to have a problem when debaters (if I recall correctly, lead by Adler) wanted to change the topic selection process last year. You might not like micropol, but you should at least not trivialize her experience.

          • loldebate

            I mean it’s not that I don’t like micropol, but it trivializes not her experience, but makes it into a debate strategy. A lot of my friends (and my ex girlfriend) have been sexually abused. I understand that. But this is really problematic because people will think this micropol is just a strategy. I find the wrong forum argument very compelling in this case because it teaches debaters to trivialize arguments.

          • LDoutsider

            “How was Jalon’s message received” …ugh you’d think people would have learned not to bring up names like this, especially to past rounds, but folks are busy, so no need to go to detail.

            The bad: LDers using the n word a lot about him/his coaches, people saying tons of racist things which were used as link cards in the AC, coaches desperate huddling in the lobby to find responses in round 6-doubles, and pretty much generally acting the way they were predicted to.

            The good: 6-2, top 20 speaker, doubles–after folks were betting (literally gambling) on if he’d win fewer than 5 rounds in prelims. I think the good parts outweigh.

            But seriously, who are you are talk about the importance of Jessica’s cause? Or the trivilalization? Did you ever consider how the use of such tactics is a response to failed systems in the LD community to address or take these issues seriously?

            These issues of gender, sexual harassment and other related misbehavior are well understood as trends in LD, but folks look the otherway and say that’s just what big name debaters get to do. Kudos to Jessica for having the courage to call the community out, because we all know that if she had tried to engage thru normal community means it would have failed (as she herself says in the AC link you post).

            lol debate, you should stop talking until you answer Jacob’s point. If you want people to stick to the resolution/normal debate, you should be against theory or discourse ks, or word pics, etc, which “punish” the opponent who hears them. These things are also used IN BID ROUNDS as well. That’s part of what people didn’t get about TOC 2011, the same thing which allows micropol cases to function is the stuff that allows theory to have such a big influence.

            Don’t like it, debate better….or start choosing to debate the resolution.

        • I was going to try and lay low but if people are going to post inaccurate information, I’m going to need to correct them. THIS IS NOT TRUE. When Aracelis asked me that, I told her I would think about it and talk to my coach about the implications of doing that. Also, for the record, Aracelis rescinded this request during the same conversation. She asked under the false pretense that I was a sophomore who already had a bid. I am a senior who did not. Ask her yourself.

          Edit: Aracelis also NEVER specifically asked to not hear the AC. Where are you getting your info from?

          • loldebate

            i just feel that this is a problem, seeing as there was a similar movement in 2004, but i feel like it’s counterintuitive to have people keep being punished. I’m sorry if my information is wrong, but I feel that Andrew was unnecessarily punished for his actions.

          • iwasatcolumbia

            Sorry your information is wrong? You completely misinformed everyone about the situation and mischaracterized Jessica’s intentions and personal character. It’s one thing to feel that Andrew was unnecessarily punished for his actions, it’s another to spread lies to make Jessica look bad.

        • anondebater523

          I think this position also needs to be looked at from the point of view of whoever is being accused of sexual harassment as well. Sexual harassment is a crime and should be treated as such if it actually occurred. Our criminal justice system is the forum such an issue, not a debate tournament because in the CJS, the accused can defend themselves or deny such a claim. When someone’s name is smeared and a slanderous case like this is read, they have no recourse against the arguments being made and can’t defend themselves because the identity of said harasser is “anonymous”. Which also brings me to the question of why Jessica felt it was necessary to identify the lab that the debater was in and the camp that he attended. If she truly wanted to tell a third person narrative to empower her story, but keep it anonymous, she wouldn’t have felt the need to drop hints about who she was accusing. The fact that she hints at who she’s accusing to narrow it down to 6-7 individuals reveals that there is some ulterior motive associated with the micropol, be it personal or for some other reason. This along with aformentioned interaction she had with Aracelis Biel both cast doubt on the sincerity of the position. I want to make clear that I agree sexual harassment is an important issue, I just believe this is the wrong forum for such discussion, and the way it was read wronged somebody else. Law enforcement should deal with sexual harassment- not the college kids and high school kids who alrgely make up the community.

          • TheBerkeleyBear

            How would going to the cops not smear the offender’s name? I’m sorry, but if you sexually harrass another, you have no right to a good name. You also said they “have no recourse against the arguments being made and can’t defend themselves because the identity of said harasser is anonymous”. Well I guess if the smearing is so bad, they might take off their cloth of anonymity, which you also say they don’t have. Nice kettle logic I guess? And don’t forget the case didn’t rest on one experience, but rather an entrenched discriminatory mindset.

            Jessica could go to the cops. But maybe she doesn’t want this to dominate her life for the next handful of years. Maybe she doesn’t want to involve her parents. Maybe proof necessary to convict him in a court of law doesn’t exist. Did you even debate last jan/feb? We all know how badly police work in these situations. Maybe you should defer to her rather than making your own assertions up.

            Casting “doubt on the sincerity of the position” isn’t sufficient to merit your proposed action which would just disincentivize future people standing up against oppression.

          • loldebate

            But then again, if she didn’t want it to dominate her life, then why would she be running it now? So it can dominate part of her life? That is the flaw i see with this advocacy and which makes me really disappointed; aren’t advocacies arguments we’re supposed to stick to?

          • TheBerkeleyBear

            “for the next handful of years.” Obviously pressing charges requires more long-term commitment than reigniting an old micropol position. And if she finds it too hard to deal with the bullshit of people like you demonizing her, maybe she would stop running the position.

            And even if you’re right about this one question, the point was that there are several questions, none of which are conclusive towards your side and most of which decisively undermine your position. Maybe you should defer to Jessica next time.

          • iwasatcolumbia

            She doesn’t identify names or camps. She only said “top lab” – there are several camps who all have top labs. The point of specifying the lab was to argue that a debater’s political status or ability to debate well may have something to do with their ability to get away with things like this. Other people at the tournament were talking and spreading rumors; they were the ones dropping the hints. Two of Jessica’s outround opponents were the ones who added names to the third person narrative in front of the rooms full of spectators during their rounds. Also, the account of the aforementioned interaction with the Collegiate coach was proven to be completely inaccurate. Double-check your info next time.

  • I think for the sake of irony no one should start a flame war



  • Congrats to David for a well deserved win! #TETOffensive

  • David Joannides is an incredibly hardworking debater who deserved this win! Congratulations to all who did well, but especially to David, who didn’t lose a round the whole weekend! I just wanted to be sure to post this before this forum became a flamewar. Before this becomes a flamewar, we all should remember the great accomplishments and hard work of the debaters that did well here.

    • That down vote was accidental due to the tiny iPhone screen and my freakishly large thumbs. Congrats David. Martin, you are odd-looking. Let the flame war begin!

    • To clarify a few things:

      1) I am in no way involved with the position being run. Please don’t facebook message me asking about it, what it said, what was run in finals, why she ran it, etc.

      2) I am especially in no way involved with what the position is talking about. I never even met Jessica until this tournament.

      3) “Flame wars” are bad and unneeded.

  • I.am.Big.Bob


    • I.am.Big.Bob

      I dont know what is worse. The fact that he is called that or that i know who that is..