PLUM 16.4, Gold Round and sweepstakes

Gold Round, End the violence

Getting Gov and being permanently scared from the last round’s giant T debate, we decided to make our plan as topical as possible and said the USFG was going to reinstate the 1994 assault weapons ban. We made all the typical arguments, but I was running a little long on time so in the first constructive I just randomly on-the-spot made up an advantage about soft power and how the world perceives the United States as being obsessed with guns, so a step toward ending gun violence buys us international favor. Or something.

We got the sense that Bethany was struggling with some personal convictions as they admitted at least partial solvency on all of our advantages and never ran the typical NRA talking points how more guns leads to less crime, gun laws just put guns in the hands of criminals, etc.

It was a pretty standard round, and we walked away with a 3-0 win, thus winning the tournament.


Our performance at the PLUM 16.4 secured Olaf’s position as leader in team sweepstakes; we currently have 91 sweepstakes points, with the second place team, BLC, having 51 points, and the third place team, South Dakota State University, having 26 points. We’re just three points shy of having more points than all the teams from third place down combined. Kevin and I also surpassed our individual sweepstakes rival, William Soule, this tournament, but that’s due to the fact that he just didn’t go to this tournament. We’ll take it nonetheless. You can check out all the stats on Bethany’s detailed summary of the tournament results.

You can see the St. Olaf Debate team at their next tournament, the Minnesota College Forensics Association state tournament on February 16th-17th, as St. Olaf defends its title as state champions. It’ll be a good showing!

– Alex


PLUM 16.4, Bronze Round and a side note on community

Bronze Round, This House prefers a Lombardi trophy over an Oscar

Kevin and I broke, with Robbie and Nathaniel being next in. PLUM tournaments typically have a policy of advancing all people with winning records. Nathaniel and Robbie had the winning record, but with only five people with a 2-1 BLC decided to advance only four, leaving the gentlemen to unfortunately get the ax based on speaker points.

This round was kind of a nightmare for me and Kevin. We decided there was no way we were going to have a clean round debating football versus movies, so we went for a metaphorical interpretation. We said that the Lombardi trophy was a metaphor for “the objective”, as it’s really clear who wins the Superbowl, while the Oscar was “the subjective” because what makes Best Picture is much more ambiguous. Accordingly, the USFG was going to legalize marijuana so as to end any subjectivity in the enforcement of that branch of drug laws.

Our opponents from Carleton ran topicality. So. Much. Topicality. They said we should have interpreted the resolution literally rather than metaphorically, and we should have had the football versus movies debate. After our Prime Minister speech, about six minutes of every constructive was devoted to topicality. They said not having a literal resolution was really bad for debate because no prep means less clash means less education. Our response was that their expectation of what we were supposed to debate, movies versus football, was also a metaphor meaning we met their interpretation, and to debate the resolution literally would have meant to debate the merits of the physical trophies. We also added that its the Gov’s prerogative to interpret the resolution metaphorically, they could have had a good debate by just going on case in what is a very standard debate topic, and predictability just isn’t something Parli values due to the inherently vague nature of resolutions. We even tacked on a reverse voting issue, saying that since they denied us the education of a good debate by making us debate topicality for the entire round, they should lose on that.I don’t think that the judges were really happy about the round at all, but we managed to win on a 3-0 decision.

On Community

As a side note, one of the BLC-affiliated judges took personal offense to some of the comments we made when discussing the nature of Parli resolutions. At some point Kevin and I mentioned an earlier BLC tournament resolution, “This House would unleash… the MONSTER!”, and said that clearly Minnesota Parli doesn’t value predictability. It seems those comments were interpreted to be an attack on the tournament director’s resolution writing abilities; the judge wrote something to the effect of that as coachless teams we couldn’t understand the stresses involved in hosting a tournament and that things would run smoother if tournament directors didn’t have to spend time funding judges for St. Olaf and Carleton. We’d like to clarify two things.

First, we have nothing but the utmost respect for Jon Logging, Bethany Lutheran College, and the Minnesota debate community as a whole. We have always felt welcomed by the Parliamentary League of the Upper Midwest (the series makes up about half the tournaments we attend) and the Minnesota College Forensics Association, well understanding that as a team we would not be able to do what it is we do without the support of these individuals and organizations. These people have provided us with material resources, such as easily accessible judges or reduced entry costs when our funding wasn’t secure, as well as logistical help and even strategic advice from time to time. We cannot emphasize how much it means to us when judges or coaches, aware of our situation, come up and talk to us after rounds, putting competition aside in favor of an inclusive debate community.

That being said, as a team we do question some of the cultural practices that occur in Minnesota Parli debate and, for the sake of frankness, at some of Mr. Logging’s tournaments specifically. We’ve had long, intensive talks about the educational value of debate and what skills or knowledge bases are prioritized in choosing resolutions like “This House would unleash… the MONSTER!” versus things like “The United States federal government should substantially change its foreign policy with Venezuela.” Both of these resolutions offer unique educational opportunities and challenges. To put it in debate jargon, we understand that both styles of resolutions have distinct positive impacts, but we as a team seem to weigh those impacts differently than other schools within the debate community.

Obviously, as a team who does this purely of our own volition, we value debate very highly and firmly believe in the wonderful things it does for young adults. We would hope that in the future we can have a dialogue about the priorities we set in formulating resolutions or other cultural practices and that our contribution to this dialogue can be interpreted as coming from people with a vested interest in debate rather than ignorant critics.

– Alex

PLUM 16.4, Prelims

Kevin and I as well as Robbie and Nathaniel once again took time out of our interim break to storm the Midwest debating scene, this time at the PLUM 16.4, graciously hosted by Bethany Luther College as always.

Round 1, This House believes smart phones don’t make us smart

This was an interesting round, namely that the resolution  suggested a facts case rather than a policy case (it’s pretty hard to legislate against smart phones). However, the phrase “This House” made teams feel compelled to define an actor just for the sake of defining. Houses ranged from the American Psychological Association to an average citizen to society as a whole. Other than that, everything went exactly as you would have expected.

Round 2, This House would rather socialize than capitalize

Nathaniel and Robbie had the fortune of having a bye this round, so we can really only attest to what Kevin and I saw. We were Opp, and the Government team said the resolution meant we were to debate which is preferable: being friendly or having a more cutthroat attitude. The debate ran into the typical problem that arises with a comparative resolution; most actions in life can be motivated by both a concern for society or personal ambition. Kevin and I basically said capitalism based on a cut-throat attitude is good for society as a whole and the United States, capitalism’s poster child, is the world’s leader in innovation.

Round 3, Victor is morally correct in publishing the articles.

The standard case study round that occurs at every PLUM tournament, this one was about a mayor of a city potentially spreading false information about cherry farmers who may or may not have been waging a smear campaign against the city’s local plum industry. Everyone who won this round that we talked opted to define morality as utilitarianism. Nathaniel and Robbie on Gov argued that preserving the plum industry was more important than anything else, while Kevin and I on Opp essentially said an eye for eye makes the world go blind. You can read the full case study through the link to the results page in the break rounds post.


Where’d the PLUM 16.3 go?

Parliamentary Debate in the Midwest is an interesting phenomenon. Tonight we were initially scheduled to attend the PLUM 16.3 at Bethany Lutheran, but it seems that no one besides us signed up to attend, and accordingly the tournament was cancelled. We were all pretty heart-broken.

That technically means debate is over for the first semester of this school year! Yet another heart-breaker. However, the leadership collectively is really excited for the future prospects of the team. We have several up-and-comers who really seem to have a knack for the activity and definitely have the potential to be serious powerhouses in the long-run. Additionally, our success has appeared to have curried some favor within the administration (rumors have circulated about a coach possibly sometime within a year or two?), so the long-term viability of the program appears to be guaranteed. Plenty of good things on the horizon.

We’ll take December off, recharge our batteries, visit loved ones, etc., but look for us in January at the Sleet and Snow Swing in Seward, Nebraksa! Happy Holidays!

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