Debating the Debates

Horses and Bayonets = Impact Turn?


PLUM 16.2

We managed to get a whopping four teams to go to this tournament, so there’s no way I’m going to be able to detail what every team did in everyone round. I’ll just give a quick wrap-up.

Round 1, This House believes in art more than science.

Most teams ran some sort of plan investing in art, and most of them did very little to demonstrate any sort of significant cuts to science as a consequence. I think this is kinda sketchy where if you don’t directly prioritize on over the other, it’s hard to demonstrate preference. For the most part though, no one ran anything to off the wall, and so we got to do our regular Policy analysis stuff. Also, we weren’t even late to our first round, which was a benefit we weren’t used to. Also also, this was Maureen’s very first debate and she didn’t even come out of the round crying or emotionally damaged, which is more than a lot of first time debaters can say. We’re very proud of her.

Round 2, This House would shake up the debate.

We’re assuming this was referring to the presidential debates, but Parli debaters tend to not like literal interpretations, and so a lot of plans were just “do something controversial”, which would shake up the debate in whatever area the controversial thing was happening in. Yay more policy analysis.

Round 3, Some really long case study about a corporation donating to a hospital outside the geographic area the corporation normally donates to in order to score some political points and push through trade regulations.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, at all of the PLUM tournaments the third round is what is referred to as a “case study”. It gives you a really long scenario and then you’re forced to make some sort of moral assessment on the matter. Most of us were a little agitated coming out of this round , as is pretty normal with case studies. The wording of the case study tends to be very subjective, and so more often than not you win a case study by sounding more believable in your interpretation (even though your assumptions tend to be no more grounded in the prompt than your opponents).

Bronze Round, This House believes Hollywood is to blame for our problems.

Quick explanation on how PLUM break rounds work; teams with a winning record (2-1 or better) will advance to a Bronze round, and whoever wins the Bronze rounds will go on to debate Gold rounds. They’re slightly different than regular break rounds in that if enough people have a winning record, Bronze could look like quarterfinals, Gold semifinals, and then they just wouldn’t have an actual final. Which is what happened.

Anyways, Raffi and Bayley along with Kevin and I broke! Both debates were interpreted pretty literally. Bayley and Raffi were Gov and interpreted it as Hollywood is to blame for our problems with violence while debating against University of South Dakota, and then Kevin and I were Opp and attempted to refute the position that Hollywood is to blame for problems with misrepresentations of social issues as put forth by a team from Ripon College.

Sadly, we found out that all good things must come to an end, and Bayley and Raffi lost on a 2-1 decision while Kevin and I lost on a 3-0. Oddly, this is the second time Kevin and I have lost to a Ripon team on a 3-0 decision with a topic dealing with movies, which is just weird.

Gold Round, This House should strive for immortality.

Most of us opted to watch the Gold round between Ripon and University of South Dakota, minus Kevin who missed the start of the round while at the bathroom (oops). In all honesty, I personally had little idea what was going on the entire time. Gov defined immortality as “having no consideration for death”, which was later described as equivalent to elves in the Lord of the Rings, where you live forever unless you decide to kill yourself. They then put the value of “experience” with a “standard of scientific development”. Basically, the idea was that striving for immortality brings a bunch of cool stuff like medicinal breakthroughs and nanotechnology, which according to the Gov has the potential to “elevate everyone to a first-world existence”.

Opp responded by saying being immortal is unpleasant after a thousand years or so and it ultimately demeans the value of the life we have now (they had a value of quality of life). In general, I thought the round to be kind of messy, which happens fairly frequently on ethics-based resolutions. Both teams did a really good job of synthesizing all of their points into clear theses in their rebuttals, though, which helped immensely. Ripon won on a 2-1 decision.

Results and Reflections

Other than the Bronze round results, we also found out at awards that I got 10th speaker with 82 points, Raffi snagged 9th with 83, and Bayley absolutely dominated with 87 points, landing her 2nd speaker. Additionally, in terms of team sweepstakes, our sheer numbers along with success in break rounds means we have nearly twice as many team sweepstakes points as any other school. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing we should be hard to beat. Check out BLC’s detailed summary of the tournament and sweepstakes thus far.

Overall, the tournament was a valuable experience. This was the most teams we’ve seen at a single meet thus far, and so we gained a lot of valuable experience as well as judge critiques that’ll get us even farther at our next trip to Bethany Lutheran, the Vocal Viking.

– Alex

All the merry debaters

PLUM’s Past and Future

Saddened by the absence of coverage on St. Olaf’s first tournament this year (prior to the creation of the blog), the PLUM 16.1? Don’t be! Bethany Lutheran so graciously types up a detailed summary after every tournament they host in the series.  I’d assume some of our teams would protest the prelim results section and the counting of a bye as a loss, but I digress.

Even more exciting, St. Olaf will be bringing four teams to the next tournament in the series, the PLUM 16.2, this Friday. Keep checking in for updates!

– Alex

Final Round and Reflections: “This House would save the bunnies”

In a brilliant amalgam of rhetoric and logic, both St. Olaf teams managed to make it to the final round! After lots of weird, ambiguous discussion, we decided we probably needed as  much judge feedback as possible early in the season, and so we debated (we had the option of not doing so).

Again, in the spirit of being sneaky debaters, I’m not going to really talk about how the round went specifically. However, I can attest to the things we’ve learned:

1. Judges want our plans to be more specific: Bethany Lutheran always tends to be really good about this. They include how the plan will be funded, which specific bureaus are responsible, etc. More often than not our plans tend to be one-liners, so we need to work on flushing them out. It’s not that we don’t know all of those details, we’ve just sorta let them slip by the wayside. Gotta get our “normal means” on.

2. Judges want our plans to be less specific: Confusing, I know, in relation to what I just said. Being an econ snob, I have the tendency to know some slightly obscure statistics off the top of my head. The rule in Parli is that you can’t cite sources, and so judges said that you can’t bring up stats like the ones I did since I don’t have sources. The question this poses for us is, “What’s the bright line?” If we can’t cite econ stats without sources, can we not bring up GDP growth? Unemployment? Federal debt? Similar problems come up when Raffi and Bayley run their technical foreign policy stuff. Definitely a long-term consideration for us.

3. Judges don’t like topicality. Ever. Seriously, unless you’re absolutely going to lose the other way, don’t do it. Every judge got pretty uppity about this on the ballot.

Overall, the tournament was a great experience for us. We got to get our name out there, get some really good rounds in, and all and all just had a great time! We can only hope this’ll be a signal of the season to come.

– Alex

P.S. Here’s some blurry photographic evidence of our success:

Debating? We’re pretty solid. Taking photos? Not so much.

Semi-finals: “Health-care costs are more threatening than the national debt”

Both St. Olaf EG and FT broke to semi-finals! The stage was set for a potential St. Olaf close-out.

Kevin and I were Gov while Bayley and Raffi ended up getting Opp. Strangely though, both rounds went almost the same way. Both sides decided to not run a plan and instead do a value debate and simply do a compare and contrast on how health-care costs affect the national debt. Basically, whether or not debt really affects people on an individual level, and how bad are health care costs in the US right now.

We both hit some strong teams that are sure to continue to be contenders throughout the entire debate season. Having such close rounds on both ends provided some serious catharsis after what was a very long wait on hearing who broke. Needless to say, we were very excited.

– Alex