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

Round 3: “This House prefers debate over action”

This resolution. THIS RESOLUTION.

I’m not going to bother separating this one by people. We were both Opp, and in both rounds Gov said debate is diplomacy and action is military engagement. We all did a really sloppy job flowing the first speech and didn’t entirely know what was going on for the rest of the round. We both ran a topicality saying that diplomacy is action, so they should lose.

The only difference was that Bayley and Raffi had the round revolving around Syria, so there was some analysis specific to that. For us, the house was the “US population”, so in the 2nd negative speech I basically introduced a new framework saying that if the house is the US population, we only care about what people think, not what actually happens. Meaning regardless of the actual consequences, if people think attacking Iran makes us safer or going into Iraq and Afghanistan instills democracy, we win. Kinda sketchy, especially introducing it during the block.

None of us really know what happened.

– Alex

Round 2: “Put them to work”

Round 2 was the signature what-does-this-even-mean resolution, in this case “Put them to work”. Bayley and Raffi were Gov, Kevin and I were Opp.

Bayley and Raffi: They interpreted the resolution as investing in nuclear power, which broke down more or less into your standard nuclear power debate. Although apparently they said that Obama Jobs Bill money for alternative energy would be able to just be randomly reappropriated… to 25 nuclear power plants… 25. Umm, I don’t really know how to interpret that. I’m assuming that besides a scuffle over funding, the rest of the round was normal.

Kevin and Alex: Being Opp, we weren’t super sure on what to do with our prep time. We talked vaguely about strategic approachs (i.e. counterplans, who was more likely to make drops on the opponent teams, etc.). Gov ran the USFG should mandate 750 hours of community service for everyone between their 14th and 18th  birthday. They said it would cure young adult apathy, which would increase the overall effectiveness of volunteer organizations and leave young people more qualified for jobs application. We said 14 year olds doing Habitat humanity don’t help that much, if everyone has an equal amount of mandated service doesn’t do anything, kids would get stressed out and be bad at school, and then it’s a giant overreach of the federal government that sets a dangerous precedent. We both went back and forth, and some good points were made on both sides. Regardless of how the round went, I feel really good about my impact calculus in the rebuttal, so that’s a reward in itself.

– Alex