Whitman Speech and Debate Participation Guidelines



Welcome to our team. The key elements of our team participation guidelines are:


1. Support Team Goals to improve, to do your best, to help the program achieve the highest rankings in the nation it can—as individual teams and speakers and as a squad.


2. You earn tournament travel by being a good member of our program; national travel depends on extra commitment doing extra drills and research assignments and in having a good chance of success at the tournament.


3. Research assignments thoroughly, following the proper formatting, and with integrity.


4. Use team laptops and desktops and all team items with care.


5. Work cooperatively with Jim and the coaches in drills, research, and during meetings. Respect the decisions that the coaches must make concerning partnerships and travel, decisions made with your input and based on team guidelines.


6. Treat other team members courteously.


7. Engage in appropriate behavior at tournaments and while the team is traveling. Support team members, work hard, be nice to people from other programs, keep focused and healthy. Treat hotels, planes, vans, and staff with respect.


8. Work with coaches at tournaments to do your best.


9. Do well in your other academic courses including attending classes regularly and completing quality assignments on time.


10. Keep yourself healthy. If you need to act to deal with feeling down, illness, healthy eating etc., take action—seek out the right resources.


11. If problems crop up, be honest and work with coaches to resolve problems.




Below is the full, very detailed team participation guidelines. You usually only need to read the below if you have a specific question.


Click the item you wish and it will take you to that item.



Whitman Speech and Debate Participation Guidelines. 1

Welcome. 4


Overall Goal 4

Tournament Travel Goals. 4

Sweepstakes Goals. 4

National Champ Tournament Goals. 4



The Process. 5

When partnerships don’t work out the way you wanted. 5


Students going to any tournament are expected to. 6

National tournaments. 6

Qualification National Tournaments. 7

Two Notes about Tournament Travel Criteria. 7

Why am I not going to a tournament?. 7

In what division do I compete?. 7


Integrity of your researched materials. 8

Integrity when debating. 8

Trading research materials. 8

Borrowing and purchasing materials. 8

Arguments we Prepare and Present 8

Taking Evidence/Arguments when you leave the team.. 9



Working with Jim.. 10

Working with the coaches. 10






Be ready to go. 12

Items to bring to tournaments. 12


Coaching before rounds. 12

Policy preparation during tournaments. 13

Parliamentary preparation during tournaments. 13

We expect you to try to win your rounds. 14

Arguing with Judges?. 14

Who advances when two of our teams hit each other in elims?. 14


Supporting the team.. 14

Supporting the community. 15

Keep your mental faculties focused at tournaments. 15

Tell us where you are. 15

After Tournaments. 15


Van Driving. 15

Plane travel 16

Hotels. 16



Eating Right 17

Intoxicants. 17

Depressed? Hate that you’re not the best? Overwhelmed?. 17


Jim is the Director 18

Helping Jim make Decisions. 18

Policy-Parli-IE Coaches. 18

Things that coaches can publically announce. 18

Things that coaches cannot publically announce but that can be stated to the student(s) directly involved. 19

Things that remain with just the coaches. 19

Questions about team policies. 19

Philosophy about Disciplinary Action. 19

Problems?. 19





            Welcome to the Whitman Speech and Debate Program.


            This document is designed to provide you with key information about how our program operates. If you have a question, just ask Jim.




            What are the goals of our program?


Overall Goal

  • We prepare, practice, debate and speak with a constant effort to improve. In doing so, we develop argument and presentation skills. We gain knowledge about public policy issues, argument theory, and political philosophy.

Tournament Travel Goals

  • We travel and compete together as a complete squad to regional and West Coast tournaments as often as is possible while considering national travel and unusual situations that prevent such from occurring.
    These trips involve sharing good times; helping each other; striving toward team goals; and assisting the coaches. In doing so, our students are committed team members who share in the camaraderie of competing together.
  • We seek to travel especially hard working, invested, and successful team members to national circuit tournaments.
    Team members not attending national circuit tournaments should still help out as is needed with such things as research.
  • We seek to break as many teams and speakers as possible into elimination rounds at tournaments.
  • We seek individual teams to excel by meeting or exceeding realistic expectations for their performance at tournaments including toward first place.

Sweepstakes Goals

  • We seek to be ranked in the top ten of NPDA Sweepstakes rankings. NPDA sweeps for Parli Debate are garnered by the results at our four best tournaments (best tournament determined by four best performing teams at the tournament).
  • We seek to be ranked in the top ten of CEDA and NDT Sweepstakes rankings. CEDA and NDT sweeps for Policy Debate are garnered by the results at our six (CEDA) or eight (NDT) tournaments (best tournaments determined by two best performing teams at the tournament).

National Champ Tournament Goals

  • The culmination of our Policy year is CEDA Nationals (for our open division policy teams) and the NDT (for teams that qualify). At max, 3 teams from one school qualify to the NDT but only six schools in the country get to qualify a third team. Most teams qualify by getting bids from their district. In our district, that happens via a district tournament. Several teams from our program will be selected as being eligible to qualify for the NDT based on our travel criteria. If those teams do well enough at the district tournament, they will attend the NDT. If you are one of the top 16 teams in the nation, you get a first round bid to the NDT, so your performance at the district tournament won’t affect whether you qualify or not. If you do not qualify through the district, you may be able to qualify for a second round bid.
  • The culmination of our Parli year is NPDA Nationals (for our open division parli teams) and the NPTE (for teams that qualify). At max, 5 teams qualify from one school to the NPTE. 64 teams get to qualify for the NPTE and this occurs by earning points at each team’s five best tournament showings.
  • The culmination of our IE year is NIET Nationals (for our individual events competitors). To qualify for the NIET, a student needs to advance three times in an event in open division and place in the top spots with a total of 8 or less placings (or “legs”) (e.g. 1st, 3rd, 2nd, is a total of 6 legs).
  • For novice and junior division competitors, end of the year goals are doing well at the end of the year tournaments such as the Whitman Classic and NW Parli Champs.



            In this section, we’re going to talk about things you are probably wondering about at the beginning of the year:

·       How do partnerships work?

·       Who travels to what tournaments?

·       What guidelines are there for research?

·       How can I best work with Jim and the coaches?

·       What about working in Hunter?




The Process

·        You will fill out a partner preference sheet. This will allow you to tell us who you want to debate with and who you don’t and why.

·        These sheets are confidential—we will not reveal this information to anyone except to the coaching staff.

·        You will meet with the coaches. We’ll ask you questions to try to find out what your goals are and more about your thoughts on partners.

·        Jim along with the coaches makes the final decision about partnerships.

·        The coaches’ decision seeks to maximize partners that people on the team want AND that maximizes our competitiveness for the team as a whole.


When partnerships don’t work out the way you wanted

·        The coaches have done their best to maximize partners that people want and that make our team competitive.

·        Sometimes, that is a difficult task and it doesn’t work out perfectly for everyone.

·        Obviously, you do not deserve a specific partner other than that the coaches use the criteria above.

·        You are privileged to be part of this team and to have the partner you have. Work with the partner you have to be the best that you can be.



            The team’s web page states what specific tournaments we are going to but this explains our criteria for who gets to travel to which of those tournaments.


·        All 221-222 students are expected to participate at all Northwest-West Coast Tournaments except as permitted by the Director.

·        Qualified 121 students are expected to attend a tournament in the Fall usually the Northwest Parli-IE Warmup.

Students going to any tournament are expected to

·        be enrolled in RFS 121, 221, 222, 401, or 402 except in unusual situations with the Director’s permission.

·        complete assignments.

·        practice their events (drills, debates, speeches) and arrive on time.

·        regularly attend the debate class and arrive on time

·        regularly attend other classes.

·        not use debate absences as an excuse to not complete quality assignments in their classes in a timely manner.

·        not have complaints from teachers about their performance in classes.

·        listen to coaching.

·        not engage in bad behavior toward the coaches or other team members.

·        act appropriately at tournaments (no drugs, no attacking staff or other students, etc.).

·        school permission (meaning you are not on probation and permitted by school rules to represent Whitman).

·        follow the Team Participation Guidelines.

221 and 222 students also need to:

·        schedule and work with coaches 7 hours each week doing drills, research, filing, strategizing, theory learning, etc.

·        attend Prep Sessions, particularly the ones prior to the beginning of the school year.

·        assist tournaments the team hosts.


National tournaments

National travel is for students who excel and the coaches make decisions on who travels to national tournaments based on a variety of factors.

The most important factor is your investment level including:

·        How much time you spend actually working on debate.

·        How long or difficult the research assignments you complete are.

·        How high quality and timely your work is.

·        Your willingness to go above and beyond just your assignments to seek out the help of coaches.

·        Doing extra drills.

·        Doing extra filing and highlighting.

·        How much you make it clear to us that you care about and actually carry through in improving your debating.

An additional, important factor is what we perceive as your potential for success at a tournament (typically at the 50% win-loss or higher range) which includes:

·        Past success (record, speaker points, head to heads).

·        Current skill level (typically demonstrated in drills and practice debates).

·        Potential for future success (based on our assessment of your potential).

Additional criteria which inform the coaches’ decisions.

·        Our travel budget (available funds dictate how many teams we can send to tournaments).

·        Frosh typically are not eligible for national tournaments that occur before November 1.

·        Students traveling to national tournaments do not miss expected tournaments. For example, when you miss a regional tournament that you are expected to go to, you are rarely if ever eligible for national travel.

·        Record of commitment to the team (one or more years of commitment of hard work on the team).

If you would like to discuss whether you are meeting expectations for traveling to a tournament you would like to attend, you are welcome to talk to the coaching staff at any time. We are happy to discuss why you do or do not get to go to a tournament and what you can do in the future to increase your access to opportunities.

NATIONAL TRAVEL IS, as is any travel with our team, A PRIVILEGE THAT YOU EARN.

Qualification National Tournaments

·        Qualification National Tournaments have qualifying rules for attending. The NDT, NPTE, and Wake Forest tournaments are examples of such tournaments.

·        Since these and possibly other tournaments restrict the number of teams we may send, the staff may be required to select the teams submitted for attendance. Such decisions will be made on a case by case basis with a general eye toward the criteria, especially the national tournaments criteria, listed above.

·        As is true for any tournament, you need to be eligible based on our participation guidelines.

·        The NDT: 1) Be ranked as Top 16 in the country; or 2) Be chosen as an NDT district applicant team by our staff based on our travel criteria (and must have at least a 40% open record) and do well enough at the district tournament to qualify; or 3) Be chosen as an NDT second round applicant by our staff (this requires at least a 50% open record and a likelihood of receiving a bid) and be ranked as a qualified second round team. Note, third teams from our school must be among the top 6 third teams in the country to qualify for a second round bid.

·        The NPTE: 1) Be approved by our staff based on our travel criteria; 2) Earn at least 18 NPTE points accumulated at the 4 tournaments with your best results.

·        Wake Forest: Be one of four teams selected by the staff based on our qualifying criteria especially the national tournaments criteria listed above (and you must meet the Wake standards which are breaking at CEDA Nationals or the NDT previously or at two senior division tournaments in the fall).


Two Notes about Tournament Travel Criteria

·        Decisions about whether you travel are made at the time travel is finalized (for national travel that occurs when tickets are purchased—typically one to two months before we go.)

·        What happens if one partner doesn’t make the standard? Then the coaches need to make a judgment call; the coaches might talk to the debater not meeting the standard; and the coaches might consider repairing teams.


Why am I not going to a tournament?

·        Travel decisions are based on the travel criteria.

·        Travel is a privilege that you earn. Obviously, we are limited by our budget but the coaches make assessments based on the travel criteria.

·        Ask Jim and he will tell you directly why you did not get to travel.


In what division do I compete?

As a whole, you will compete in the division based on the definitions used by the tournament that we attend.

For Policy tournaments, most tournaments only have open division. At a few tournaments, they offer JV division and the definition of that is complicated but typically, if you are in your first two years of college competition and you are winning less than 50% of your debates, you would be a team likely to be placed in JV division.

For Parli tournaments, this usually means the following:

·        Novice: 3 or less elim awards AND has not competed in high school. When you get your 4th award, you move up.

·        Junior IE’s: 7 or less awards in the event. When you get your 8th award, you move up.

·        Junior Debate: 3 or less elim awards in JV or Open division at college debate tournaments (elim awards in a high school TOC qualifying division of debate also counts). When you get your 4th award, you move up.

·        The staff may, in unusual situations, move a competitor into a more advanced division based on exceptional performance and ability.




            The research you prepare is research that the entire team will use; it needs to be top notch and ethical research. The team funds and supports your travel; you are expected to make good use of those funds. This section lays out the expectations for your research and arguments. We will provide further details later for your research assignments.


Integrity of your researched materials

·        We will not permit any fabricating, plagiarizing, or taking material out of context. We’ll work with you to resolve the situation but it is subject to an F grade, reports to the Dean, etc. Please do NOT do this—it is damaging to you and to the entire team.

·        We will not permit the posting of nor the use of anonymously published or posted materials that a debater or coach wrote. In policy debate, if you wish to use quoted material from a debater or coach from our squad, you should discuss this with the staff before using such material.

·        You may not use files produced by other schools without a head coach’s permission.


Integrity when debating

·        Before a policy debate, you are expected to explain positions/cases accurately that you have presented before to other teams (unless your coaches tell you differently). You may not claim you have a new affirmative when you have essentially the same affirmative that you or other team members have used before. You may state that you will use another one of our team’s affirmative cases, that you will have a new advantage or new plan text wording, or other specific description.

·        During a policy debate, you may not clip evidence (claim you have read words, phrases, or sentences that you actually skipped during your speech).

·        During a policy debate, you must give evidence you will present directly to the other team without delay when you begin speaking or by the time that you finish presenting the arguments. Delays in giving the evidence and making it difficult to ascertain the evidence you read is not appropriate (e.g. giving the other teams multiple pieces of evidence that you know you won’t read).

·        If you believe another person or team has misused or fabricated a piece of evidence, please do not make a public issue of it.  For example, we frown on evidence challenges made in a round; we prefer that you talk to the other team quietly during prep time; if that doesn’t resolve it, you can argue that the evidence IS NOT CORRECT but ONLY if you have ABSOLUTE DOCUMENTED PROOF.  We expect you to check the evidence by researching it and to speak with the other person or team quietly.  If there is a serious problem that you are unable to resolve, speak to one of your coaches.


Trading research materials

·        We encourage exchanging source citations, argument ideas, and flows with the exception of arguments and speeches that we have not presented yet.

·        You must have the permission of a head coach to trade our materials with other schools including high school teams. If you do receive permission, you must make certain that the people you give the materials to re-cut them and that any reference to Whitman College is removed.


Borrowing and purchasing materials

·        The team can purchase books and journals IF AND ONLY IF you get a head coach’s permission first. If you do not receive permission first, the team is under absolutely no obligation to reimburse you.

·        The team accepts no responsibility for overdue fines or lost books/journals even if you checked out items for other people and they lost them or returned them late.


Arguments we Prepare and Present

·        We support your freedom to present a variety of arguments at tournaments within limits.

·        As a general rule, affirmative/government teams must seek to follow and support the resolution/topic.
--One test of this: The 2AC/MG must seriously go for “the aff/gov is topical”.
--Another test: Saying you “relate to the topic” is not sufficient. You have to support the topic.
--Affirmative/government teams do not need to “implement” the resolution (and hence deal with politics and other logistical arguments), but they do need to support the advocacy advanced in the resolution.

·        As a general rule, negative/opposition teams must answer the affirmative/government team’s support of the resolution.

·        This is not meant to restrict our teams from unusual situations where a non-topical case might be strategic against a team that refuses to engage the affirmative; or if you are on the negative against a team that ran a brand new case out of nowhere.

·        Our norm is plans/advocacies with advantages, disadvantages, counterplans, and kritiks; some performance is fine too.

·        As a general rule, we are not willing to fund travel for teams that wish to make other kinds of arguments including attacks on judges or other competitors, non-topical affirmatives, and overtly obscene behaviors (such as nudity, flipping off opponents, etc.) This is not meant to interfere with discussion of controversial topics such as sexuality, racism, etc. If you have a question, ask a coach.


Taking Evidence/Arguments when you leave the team

·        You may take arguments you directly researched.

·        You may not take any other files or arguments unless with the explicit approval of Jim.




            Whitman does not use printed materials for debates (other than flowsheets). Instead, we use laptops.


Team Laptops for Policy Debaters

·        Each team on the policy debate squad may have use a laptop.

·        If you need more than the third laptop for your debating, speak with Jim; we’ll do our best.

Team Laptops for Parli Debate and Extemp

·        We will bring 2 or 3 Team Laptops for Parli Debate Prep and for Extemp Files to tournaments.

·        You can also use your own laptop.

Team Laptops for Policy Debaters

·        Debaters who want to use a team laptop beyond tournament use may do so on a first come, first served basis. See Jim.

Debating use of your personal laptop

·        The school does not reimburse for damage or breakage of a personal laptop including during debate trips.

Damaging a Team Laptop

·        If you break a laptop by reckless, careless or purposeful means, you will be responsible for the cost of repairing such damage including for a team laptop.

·        Please do not lie about damage to team or other team members’ laptops. Be honest and accept any responsibility you had for damage. We will consider lying about this a serious breach of team guidelines and serious consequences (e.g. suspension from the team) will occur.



            We want to work productively with you. Here are some key tips. J


Working with Jim


  • Jim wants to work with you to resolve your concerns and to help you understand team policies.
  • Want something? Ask Jim in person but usually you need to email him as he gets many requests.
  • Team Policy seems wrong? Have a criticism of a policy or decision? Problem with food or travel? Work with Jim to understand the policy or decision and to see if something can be done to address your concerns. Please avoid confrontations and remember—not everything can go your way.
  • Getting a say in team dinners: Tell Jim in advance of a place you want us to go to. 1) It has to appeal to the team as a whole ; 2) We need very clear directions; 3) It has to be open when we go; 4) It has to be within our budget; and 5) The place has to be able to handle a group our size in a timely manner.
  • Please be willing to help out when Jim needs it. It helps Jim and the team—and both will be there for you when you need it.

Working with the coaches


  • At a minimum, we expect you to listen courteously to coaching.  We hope that you will consider staff ideas seriously and attempt to improve your speaking and debating.
  • We expect you to show up to meetings on time.  If you cannot make a meeting, you should call AND e-mail the people involved as soon as is possible.
  • We expect you to treat coaches courteously. We understand that you may not agree with coaching decisions and you are free to disagree respectfully with our decisions. Public listserv announcements are not the best way to handle disagreements and definitely, angry attacks are inappropriate and unacceptable.
  • We expect you to be honest in your dealings with the coaches. If you are late, if you miss a meeting, if you do something that is not in accord with the staff’s wishes or the team participation guidelines, we expect you to be honest concerning your behavior.
  • The coaching staff are ready to help you. Respect them. Put into practice their suggestions. Work with them. It will pay off.



            Hunter is a great place to work. Please keep it that way!


·        Use the computers and desk space to get your work done efficiently and to have fun.

·        Please keep the Prep Rooms relatively clean.

·        Throw away trash.

·        Keep your desk area including the floor relatively clean, neat, and organized.

·        Jim and the coaches reserve the right to require you to spend several minutes cleaning the Prep rooms if they are messy.

·        You must enter Hunter through the doors, not through a window. If your swipe card is not working, you need to call security at 5777.

·        To use Hunter when the doors are locked, you must be on the Picture list. If security asks about your presence in Hunter, you can point to the Picture list near the Prep room doors.

·        You can be removed from Hunter for loud noise, disruptive or illegal behavior (smoking is illegal in all Washington state buildings). Please avoid this from happening.

·        ALWAYS be courteous and cooperative with security.

·        If you see unusual behavior from others in the Hunter building that concerns you—talk to Jim immediately or call security at 5777.

·        Is a printer, computer, mouse, something else broken in a Prep Room? Please email Jim to tell him that it needs to be fixed. He will put in a work order to get it fixed.

·        You may not post on the walls or computers in the prep rooms “overtly objectifying sexualized pictures/words” nor “attacks on identifiable groups or individuals.” This is because you may make other team members uncomfortable and because administrators, people, etc. may visit. The walls and computers are not yours, they are the property of the program. Jim will remove these items and, if necessary, “lock down” the computers preventing any changes whatsoever to the computers (i.e. when they reboot, they will totally clean the hard drive of any changes).

·        Your music may not be played so loudly that it interferes with or bothers others in Hunter, including Jim. To that end, you must play music with your headphones/earbuds unless you get “noise level certified” by Jim.

·        Posting something on a wall? You need to use BLUE TAPE. Other tape damages the paint.



            Members of our team are friends, debate partners, and colleagues. We are working together and that means it is important to treat each other right.


·        Our squad should give you the opportunity to participate in speaking and debating events COMFORTABLY.

·        We encourage you to support the diversity of people on our team—people of different colors, political views, intellectual abilities, talent, weights, genders, sexualities, cultures, religious views, and experiences.

·        Since what happens in social settings such as parties where team members get together, dinners where a few debaters are eating together, etc. doesn’t suddenly disappear when those same people are in the prep rooms, at tournaments, etc., you are encouraged to treat people right wherever you interact. That includes social gatherings of team members as well as when directly participating in our program such as in hotel rooms, on van rides, while debating, in the prep rooms, etc. 

·        The staff is committed to working with you to make the team atmosphere comfortable. If you feel we aren’t doing what we should, please report it to Clare Carson or Dennis Hopwood in Mem.

·        We STRONGLY discourage you from attacking or blaming your partner for problems in debates. If you have a problem with your partner—have a private conversation with him or her. Don’t gossip behind his or her back and don’t turn it into a public dispute. You can also talk with the coaches if things aren’t getting resolved.

·        We encourage you to show respect for all parts of our program—Policy Debate, Parliamentary Debate, Extemp, Impromptu, and Platform speaking. You are certainly welcome to critique fast speaking, krazy kritiks, ridiculous heg and econ impacts, not using quoted material, and adapting to “comm.” critics. However, calling one of the two types of debate stupid, claiming superiority to another team member, and devaluing others’ work is not acceptable, is hurtful to people, and undermines our team.

·        We encourage you to complement team members for extra effort (e.g. doing a research update), for showing good skills, for their contributions to the team or just as friends.

·        We encourage you to keep a positive attitude. Making repeated negative comments about debate, our program, other team members, and coaches is harmful to creating a positive culture on the team.

·        We encourage you to support team members who are having problems. This might be just talking with them; it might be helping them get to a counselor.

·        We encourage you to help with research when fellow team members are away at tournaments.




            As a participating member of the team and especially at Hunter and Tournaments but in all of your interactions:


·        You are expected to follow the guidelines noted in Whitman’s Student Handbook including during your debates, practices, and at tournaments.

·        You may not order items on the team’s bill from restaurants or stores (such as appetizers or special pens) without the explicit consent of Jim or a coach who is in charge of a tournament. You are never permitted to charge to the team entertainment items (such as movies in your hotel room) or medicine/toiletry items from stores (such as cough medicine or mouthwash).



            Traveling to tournaments with the team is what makes all the work you do all the more fun. We have a great time. Jim will make you stop at Multnomah Falls a bazillion times, you gotta love the college judging, and how can you deny the joy of team bonding in the Whitman vans!



Be ready to go

Pack and be ready to go at the scheduled times including when we leave Whitman to go to the tournament; when we leave the hotel in the morning to go to the tournament; and when we leave the tournament to return to Whitman.


Any claims preventing travel should be verified by the Health Center.


If you are sick and unable to attend a tournament, inform the coaches and your debate partner. We will do our best to give your partner the opportunity to debate.


Items to bring to tournaments


1. Clothes

·        Bring nice clothes. “Nice,” means wear clean, wrinkle free clothing that represents the best quality dress in the style that works for you.

·        Bring a different set of clothes for each day of the tournament.

·        Many students also like to bring an extra set of casual clothes for when they aren’t competing.


2. Toiletries

·        Deodorant, mascara, hair care, feminine products, razors, toothbrush, toothpaste, combs, dental floss, shampoo, etc.

·        For some tournaments, you will also need to bring a comforter/sleeping bag and towel. Jim will alert you via the email listserv when you need to do this.


3. Extra money

·        The team will pay for food, transportation and hotel rooming for you during the tournament.

·        Bring a debit card, small amount of money, or a credit card for all other items including special pens, medicines, personal items, etc. If you like snacks/expensive drinks, bring extra money for that too.


4. Your Speech and Debate Materials

·        Check to make sure you have the Extemp Files and the Parli Case Book on your laptop.

·        Check to make sure you have your laptop, cords, usb key, etc., and that your laptop has the files from the server. Use our Tech Checklist.




Coaching before rounds

·        We expect you to speak to one of the coaches before debating.

·        In elimination rounds especially, please do not interfere with coaches prepping teams. This means, stay out of the area/room where coaches are working with the debaters unless you are asked to help/come in.


Policy preparation during tournaments

·        You are expected to provide source citations for good cards to other debaters and our coaches.

·        On the day/night before the tournament starts, we expect coaches and students to help prep key areas. We expect work on files, practice reading evidence, etc., but you should have some fun too.

·        On the night(s) of prelims, we will discuss cases, neg. positions, etc. on an ad hoc basis. We want you to get sleep so file and go to sleep.

·        On the night before elims, we will make every effort to return to the hotel as soon as possible. This means that we will not do team dinners and we may very well order pizza so we do not have to make any stops.

·        We typically gather together and go through the list of elim participants. We will discuss our strategy against each case and each major negative position. We will identify areas needing further research. While we will try to go through this list as quickly as possible, it will probably take 15 minutes to do this. After the research areas are identified, people will be given assignments that we expect to be finished by the next morning. If you're not going to get it done, tell us at this meeting; not in the morning right before we hit that team.

·        You are expected to complete 2 to 3 hour research assignments in the evening if you are no longer in competition.

·        You are expected to watch (and flow) at least the first two or three elimination rounds if you are no longer in competition (and after having at least 6 hours of sleep). Watch to help us prepare arguments and watch to improve—take notice of how the debaters argue, the arguments they present, and the strategies they use. Get ideas from their debating to incorporate into your own debating.

·        We will attempt to balance competing concerns for sleep and preparation. First, we will attempt to make assignments that you can complete in 2 to 3 hours of work. Second, coaches and students should get enough sleep, at least 6 hours, particularly if you are still competing in rounds the next day. Third, if you can't stay awake or you're worried about getting sick, we will not force students to do something harmful to their health.  Overall, we expect people to get their assignments done, but we understand the need to get sleep. Socializing on the night before elims is a "luxury" and is not a reason to leave an assignment incomplete.  That's true for coaches just as much for students.

·        A quick story of Whitman lore—in 1993, the night before Jenn and Char went to their octas and quarters rounds, Steve, Loan, Andy, Jim, and others stayed up until 5:30 in the morning putting together positions and briefs (using Lexis for DOS, an old dot matrix printer, 2400 baud modem, and Word for DOS 4.0). You’ll see our current Policy coach and others on the team carry on this tradition. Your willingness to help out is much appreciated. We expect students and coaches to prepare so we can do the best that is possible.


Parliamentary preparation during tournaments

·        Teams should talk with their coaches and each other during the preparation time about the cases and arguments to use in their debates. Typically, this entails a coach assigned to the PMC, another to the MG, and another to the Opp.

·        Students review and utilize prep materials during the 20-25 minute prep time but should never take materials prepared before prep time into their rounds—that is against the rules.

·        It is important that you leave the Prep area so that you arrive at your round on time. Make it happen especially since you are usually disqualified for being late.

·        Please, do not leave the Prep room a mess. These rooms are frequently used for debates. Throw away trash/messes before the resolution gets announced; the only items you should have before the resolution is announced are the things you will bring with you to your debate.


We expect you to try to win your rounds

·        Our program spends money, our coaches spend time helping to prepare you, and our coaches judge for you so that you can compete at tournaments. We use those resources for teams that try, not ones that give up.

·        You may not purposefully try to lose any round.

·        You may not choose strategies that will increase your chances of losing because “there’s no reason to win” or “I’m not going to break.”


Arguing with Judges?

·        No, you may not argue with judges.

·        You are encouraged to ask judges questions, to write down their ideas for future improvements.

·        You can ask judges why they did not vote on something you felt they should have BUT you need to recognize a line that you should not cross—the line where you are attacking and disrespecting a judge.


Who advances when two of our teams hit each other in elims?


The coaches will determine which team advances.


At Regular Tournaments

Team seeding will be the primary consideration but the coaches will also preference:

·        Teams in contention for NDT or NPTE or other qualifying bids.

·        Teams that are regular traveling members of the team.

·        Teams that have members who do not have significant team participation guideline violations.


At NPDA Nationals, the NPTE, CEDA Nationals, and the NDT

Team seeding will be considered but the coaches will also give preference to the following teams:

·        Teams with seniors on them.

·        Teams with debaters with a substantially longer term, significant commitment to the team.

·        Teams that have done substantially better over the course of the year.

·        Teams that have regular traveling members of the team.

·        Teams that have members who do not have significant team participation guideline violations.


The coaching staff will inform the team not being advanced of the reason. Note that unusual situations not contemplated here may also arise that the coaches would consider.




Supporting the team

·        We expect you to support the team and other team members.  If you have a disagreement with another person on the team or a squad policy, we encourage you to address the matter away from students and coaches from other schools.

·        We expect team members who are not competing in an elimination round to either help with preparation or watch and flow appropriate elimination rounds. Students requesting an exception should see a coach first.

·        We expect you to attend the awards assembly of the tournament unless told different by one of the coaches.

·        We expect you will treat the hotels and restaurants we use with respect including, obviously, not taking items from rooms, not mistreating those serving you, being rude to other customers/people around us, etc.

·        When we leave hotel rooms--please make sure the room is reasonably clean and that you have checked outlets, the beds, the bathroom, and the dresser drawers so you don't leave items behind.


Supporting the community

·        We expect you to support other teams and competitors. As a representative of Whitman College, your actions reflect on Whitman College, our program, yourself and other members of our team.

·        We ask that you not speak negatively about other schools, judges, coaches, team members, etc.  Negative comments like, "He is a jerk" and "She's a lousy judge," and “I’m glad they lost,” reflect poorly on our squad and damage the kind of community we want to part of.

·        We expect you to listen courteously to decisions and critiques that judges give.  You may ask questions to understand better how the judge viewed the round; You can talk with judges about their decisions; respectfully ask about arguments that you thought they should have voted on. Arguing with a judge about his or her decision is absolutely inappropriate.  If you have a problem with a judge's behavior, bring it directly to your coach's attention as soon as possible.

·        We support talking with other teams about the arguments and positions we present in speeches and debates except items that we have not yet presented (for example, new affirmative cases, negative strategies against a team). You should allow others to watch and flow you in debates and in speeches.


Keep your mental faculties focused at tournaments

·        You are expected to follow the student handbook’s guidelines.

·        Violations of college policy can mean loss of tournament travel and possibly expulsion from the team.

·        Socializing or staying up until late in the night is not permitted if it harms your competitive abilities and team responsibilities.

·        Coaches who view students engaged in behavior damaging to their mental faculties are required to report such behavior to the Director.


Tell us where you are

·        Please keep the coaches apprised of where you are.  This is particularly true when you wish to visit friends or family at tournaments, when you go to a party, if you wish to leave the tournament via your own transportation, and when we are on plane trips.  We are willing to accommodate students who wish to do other things.  Tell one of the coaches before you go so we know where you are.

·        Going to the bathroom or stepping out at the end of dinner? Tell a driver/coach so we don’t leave you.


After Tournaments

·        When we return to Whitman, we need to return all items to the hallway, prep rooms, and Jim's office.

·        We need to clean the vans and throw away all garbage.

·        We need to make sure that everyone has taken all of the items they own. Please help us avoid lost and found problems.

·        Trophies: You keep them except for major national tournament/championship awards which remain the property of the program.




Van Driving

·        We need Van Safety Certified drivers for travel. At the end of your frosh year, we want you to become van safety certified (unless you have a bad driving record, have not driven for 3 years, or will not be 19 by Sept. 1).

·        Drivers must always communicate with the head coach at the tournament the night before travel so that all involved know who will need to be available to drive.

·        If you’re tired—stop!!! Don’t kill people simply because you or others want to get some place.

·        NOTICE TO RIDERS: The radio is owned by the driver (within reasonable limits especially volume level) and there MUST be at least one person who is awake at all times in the two front seats.

·        Who gets which seats in the van?
--Coaches get first pick
--Van safety certified drivers get second pick
--Team members with most time on the team get third pick


Plane travel

·        Have Government Picture ID with you, including preferably a driver’s license and social security card. If you don’t have this, they won’t let you on the plane.


·        Clothes and toiletries must be brought in luggage/backpacks that you can carry on to the plane.

·        Your toiletries (mouthwash, toothpaste, etc.) must be in a see through zip bag and must be 3 ounces or less each. THAT IS A FEDERAL REGULATION--they will make you throw it away otherwise.

·        After exiting from the plane, always stay near the plane exit until everyone is gathered together.



·        While traveling on debate trips sponsored by the College, student debaters will be assigned to rooms according to gender. This may mean that three or four people might be assigned to one room in some cases.

·        If a student has questions or concerns about the lodging assignments, he or she should contact the head coach privately. The head coach may adjust the roommate assignments if appropriate. Consideration will not be given to dating couples.

·        We ask that all students be inclusive, accepting of differences, and respect the needs of their teammates in terms of sleep and privacy..




We want you to do well in your school work. Your future plans depend on it, as does the reputation of our squad. Consider the following:


·        Missing classes for debate tournaments is an officially excused absence. Even so, it is very important that you work with your professor to assure that you complete assignments and makeup for the missed classes.

·        EVERYONE: AVOID THURSDAY EVENING AND FRIDAY CLASSES. Schedule as many Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (except evening) classes as you can.

·        Parli debaters are going to typically miss Fridays for tournaments (sometimes Thursday evening).

·        Policy debaters are going to typically miss Thurs evening, Friday, Monday, and sometimes Tuesday for tournaments.

·        Keep your professors apprised of your travel. At the beginning of the semester, Jim will give you sheets explaining your absences; give these sheets to your professors and talk to them about makeup work.

·        Participate effectively in class discussions. Provide relevant comments, do NOT argue to win, do not argue to attack other students, don’t dominate discussion, and also don’t say nothing because the “topic isn’t worth discussing,” etc. In sum, be a good student—involved and engaged, YOU SHOULD BE HELPING THE DISCUSSION, HELPING THE PROFESSOR TO HAVE A PRODUCTIVE DISCUSSION.

·        Turn in assignments on time. Do not turn in papers late. Do not turn in shoddy “last minute” papers. Plan ahead so you can complete your papers BEFORE tournaments rather than after. Turn in high quality work on time.

·        Attend classes. NEVER cut class when you are at Whitman. It makes it harder to keep up in class AND it creates a negative image of the program on campus. In addition, your travel may be cut if a professor complains that you are not in class on non-tournament dates.

·        Your coursework—which is forensics AND all of your other courses—is the MOST important objective as far as our program is concerned. Work hard; give your very best. Forensics students should be maintaining a 3.0 or better GPA.

·        The Registrar will inform Jim if you have a cumulative below a 3.0 or received below a 3.0 for a semester. If that happens, Jim will work with you to improve your grades by meeting with you periodically during the semester. It is important that you work to improve as it affects your ability to travel especially to national tournaments where you miss more days of class.

·        Students with GPA’s below 2.0 are restricted by the school from competition.

·        Students must be enrolled in RFS 221, 222, 401, 402 or 121 in order to participate. If you are taking less than 12 credits, you need to see Jim in order to participate.



            Being on the team is a lot of fun but it can also be stressful at times as can college life in general. It’s important that you keep your life as balanced as possible. Here are some ideas and guidelines for eating right, avoiding abuse of intoxicants, dealing with depression and hating that you aren’t the best, and treating each other right.



Eating Right

Take control. You are in charge of what you eat. No one can take that away from you.

·        Eat healthy. We encourage you to eat healthy food avoiding excesses of candy. For van travel tournaments, we have coolers that you can use to bring store-bought food to tournaments.

·        Food allotments at tournaments. Students receive team paid meals at tournaments.

·        Eat enough. We encourage you to eat well during tournaments and other days. Students who don’t eat enough can faint, get dizzy, and compete less effectively. Have something to eat!

·        Be flexible. There are many members on this team. Please be flexible about the food establishments we go to at tournaments. Not everyone’s choices can be supported though we will do our best to choose places, over the course of the semester, that meet the variety of student diet needs.

·        Want to take more control? You can contact the Counseling Center at 5195.



·        We encourage team members to avoid abusing substances. Have fun, be legal, and have a good time but don’t overdo.

·        In terms of the team directly, please don’t let your use of substances interfere with your debate work, drills, filing, etc.

·        You can’t be in Hunter when intoxicated. You will be told to leave if this is the case.

·        You can’t have intoxicants in Hunter. You will be told to leave if this is the case.

·        You can’t use the team’s listserv to announce parties or events where the main focus is drinking of alcohol including drinking games or other intoxicants.

·        You should not pressure others on the team to consume alcohol or to use intoxicants or cigarettes.

·        If you are having problems, the counseling center is a great resource for helping you deal with alcohol and drug over-use. They’re at 5195.


Depressed? Hate that you’re not the best? Overwhelmed?

·        These are common feelings; you are not alone. They are especially common among debaters who are stressed and under pressure from competition and time deadlines.

·        Consider ways to find relief. Take a walk; watch a movie; have dinner with your friends. Do something that you find enjoyable. If it isn’t enjoyable like it has been and this is significant, take action—see the Counseling Center. Make it right.

·        You can talk to Jim or one of the coaches or one of your close friends or teammates. Obviously, if it is a more significant issue, take more action—do the right thing for yourself.

·        The Counseling Center can help. They can give you a wide variety of techniques as well as other treatments to help you cope and manage the way you are thinking and feeling. They are at 5195.





            This section explains how the team is structured; how decisions are made; who is in charge; when decisions can and can’t be revealed due to privacy concerns.


Jim is the Director

·        Jim is in charge.

·        At times, Jim will request input but Jim makes the final decisions.

·        Please show respect for Jim and follow his decisions. He works hard for you and this team. Show it in the way you interact with him.

·        At some tournaments and situations, Jim won’t be there. The Policy, Parli-Policy, or Parli-IE Coach will be in charge and they make the final decision. You are expected to respect and follow those decisions; show our coaches the same deference.

·        Decisions are based, as much as is possible on the guidelines in this document.

·        Obviously, new situations arise; judgment calls arise; Jim makes the final decision.


Helping Jim make Decisions

·        Periodically, Jim will ask students and coaches for input on issues.

·        Please provide your input.

·        As you do, be thinking “how can I help Jim make his decision”—not “How can I get my way?” J or “This is an opportunity to argue/to show that my idea is best.” Jim is absolutely not interested in that.

·        If Jim suggests that your idea has a problem, first, genuinely respect that problem, second, consider whether your idea can be adjusted for that problem, third, consider offering an alternative; in sum, keep trying to find ideas that will help Jim.

·        The goal of the process isn’t for you to necessarily find THE IDEA. The goal is to brainstorm and consider different ideas so Jim gets to think through and hear out the ideas.


Policy-Parli-IE Coaches

·        The coaches are in charge of assignments, argument strategies for the squad as a whole, and coaching prior to rounds with some input from Jim.

·        Students get input but ultimately the coaches decide.

·        While students are expected to listen to coaches about ideas and strategies for their debates, students get to determine what arguments they will present in their rounds within the guidelines noted in this document (topical, no attacks, not obscene).

·        When students choose arguments different from what coaches encourage them to run, coaches should still help BUT students cannot expect coaches to provide the same level of help and enthusiasm to their efforts when they aren’t following coaching advice.


Things that coaches can publically announce

·        Who is going to what tournaments (if a team is not going—it is because a team did not meet the travel criteria or did not wish to go or cannot go for personal reasons).

·        Work/assignments that were not completed and that still need to be completed.

·        Who is partners with who.


Things that coaches cannot publically announce but that can be stated to the student(s) directly involved

·        The coaches will not make public announcements of decisions against a student (eg we will not make public announcements of _why_ x person didn't get to go to a tournament).

·        The coaches will not make public announcements of information that a student or coach provides that they request with good reason to remain confidential.


Things that remain with just the coaches

·        Reasons for partner decisions.

·        Some of the reasons for who received which assignments.

·        Deliberations among the coaches about decisions.


Questions about team policies

·        Yes—you can ask Jim or any coach about general team policies at any time.

·        Yes—you can ask Jim or any coach about how a policy was applied to you at any time. Note that if a private matter is implicated, we cannot discuss that. For example, if you want to know why you didn’t get X person as a partner—we cannot tell you that as that would reveal private, confidential information that other people provided to us. WE RESPECT the confidentiality of the information that they gave—just as we respect the confidentiality of the information you gave to us.

·        We cannot provide information about disciplinary action or confidential information about other people.


Philosophy about Disciplinary Action

·        We believe in talking with you to resolve problems; your cooperation is really important to this process.

·        You are responsible for changing your behavior and taking responsibility for not following the rules; sometimes this resolves the situation so nothing more needs to be done; sometimes you’ll need to do team service or some other minor form of action to resolve the problem.

·        When you will not cooperate, when you don’t communicate about, and when you fail to stop repeating even minor infractions, the problem escalates from not so significant to much more serious and we have to resort to more significant conduct action such as loss of tournament travel or suspension.

·        In cases of significant violation of team guidelines and/or the guidelines in the Whitman student handbook, more severe conduct action may occur.

·        If you won’t cooperate and communicate about significant infractions, suspension, probation, and expulsion are highly likely.

·        The best way for you to handle a situation where you violated team rules is to be honest, to accept responsibility, to be cooperative, and to work with Jim or the Policy/Parli coach; failure to do so will DEFINITELY escalate the situation into a much bigger problem.

·        Arguing against the rule, not taking responsibility, blaming others, claiming the rule is not enforced consistently, etc. are all irrelevant to the fact that you have violated the rule and just force Jim and the coaches to focus on your rule violation rather than trying to give you the best outcome in your situation.



·        Use the right channel. Email or talk with Jim or the coaches.

·        Figure a constructive way to word your criticism or issue.

·        Figure out the right tone.

·        Focus on the actions/policy/issue, not your anger at the person.

·        DON’T THINK YOUR WAY IS THE ONLY WAY—when you don’t get your way, deal with it; and don’t angrily rail on how “irrational” a decision was, etc. Be mature.

·        Rude, critical attacks on the coaches is grounds for punishment even dismissal from the team; learn how to criticize constructively.

·        Want a team discussion of a team management/team policy issue? Ask Jim. We recommend against taking such issues to the listserv or to a team meeting without Jim’s approval as it can easily be used as a way to challenge the authority of the coaches and undermine the team, something that is not acceptable and would just reinforce what might already be a problematic situation.



We want to emphasize five objectives based on the Northwest Forensics “Statement of Ethics” document:

·        Forensics should be considered a form of rhetorical scholarship. This means that speech and debate is part of an academic effort to study, practice and evaluate the best means of persuasion. Our program is an academic activity housed in the Rhetoric Studies Department.

·        Each student should be involved in the invention of the arguments that the members of our program uses. We understand the need and value of student and coach participation in the collaborative invention, preparation and sharing of materials.

·        Fabrication of materials is not permitted. Plagiarism of materials is not permitted. If you are caught, we will talk with you but you have committed a very serious breach of academic ethics and you should expect to be suspended or expelled from the squad and to have a report submitted to the registrar. If you have any question, please ask a coach or team member.

·        Individuals should not be presumed guilty of ethical violations. If you think someone has violated an ethical norm, talk with that person in private—rather than in the public glare of a debate or individual event round. If you are unsure about an ethical violation, please speak with your coaches or other team members.

·        Students must be at least half-time enrolled, working on your thesis, or on special status, and not on academic probation. At Whitman, if you are not enrolled full-time, you should have a conversation with Jim to assure that you can compete.


In addition, the Whitman program affirms the importance of all participants’ cooperation in creating an educational and competitive environment that is fair, humane and responsible while, at the same time, encouraging competition that is devoted to full and robust argument about a diverse range of ideas.  Specifically, our program affirms that:

·        Competitors, judges, and coaches should talk about the expectations that they have for creating rounds that focus on ideas instead of personal attacks.

·        Competitors, judges, and coaches should communicate with respect, not attacking each other.

·        Competitors, judges, and coaches should reject discourse which devalues other members of our community based on their race, age, gender, class, sexual or religious orientation, or any reason that is not directly related to the ideas that they present.

·        Competitors, judges, and coaches should communicate with each other rather than silently objecting when they observe instances of verbally aggressive attacks.

·        Competitors, judges, and coaches should not engage in serious and/or repeated demeaning speech that materially or substantially disrupts the opportunity for a student, judge, or coach to compete, judge, or coach fairly.[2]

In sum, our program supports discourse that respects the individuals in our community while at the same time encouraging robust conversation, including disagreement, about ideas that individuals communicate.


[1] This material is based on five points included in the Statement of Ethics for the Northwest Forensics Conference.

[2] Based on Kristine Bartanen and Jim Hanson, “Advocating Humane Discourse,” The Forensic of Pi Kappa Delta 80 (Fall 1994): 20-21.