I debated for 4 years at University High School (FL) and graduated in 2015. I competed primarily on the national circuit, finishing my career by reaching finals at TOC. I’m currently a freshman at Brown University.

My goal in debate is to intervene as little as possible. That means I will vote for arguments or issues I don't like if I think you are ahead. The rest of the paradigm clarifies my personal biases, but I am not committed to any of these views – do what you do best to win the round.

I have several default views for the round:
  • I default to truth testing. In fact, I’m not positive I know all that is entailed by comparative worlds, so if you justify it, explain the implications clearly. Also, this implies that my default role of the ballot is to prove the truth or falsity of the resolution; alternative role of the ballots need to be justified.
  • I am fine with embedded clash to the extent that I believe the arguments directly respond to each other. I don't feel totally comfortable cross applying arguments that don't explicitly interact.
  • I default to competing interps and no rvi’s on theory. I believe that mitigatory defense is not sufficient to win a theory debate (I meets/you violates are terminal defense, unless otherwise proved). I will default to drop the debater if “Fairness is a voter”, drop the argument if “Fairness is important.” Unless arguments to the contrary, I will assume an RVI necessitates offense to a counterinterp not just defense.
  • I default to meta-theory first and text of the interp over the sentiment.
  • I have an extremely low threshold for extensions of conceded arguments, but I would like some mention of the argument in every speech. Contested arguments need an extension of the warrant as well as the claim.
  • I would prefer no 2AR RVI’s or theory shells. Unless I think the abuse is particularly egregious and the theory shell truly deserved, I will probably just intervene against the shell since there is no true way to resolve the debate absent judge intervention.
  • I won’t vote on an argument that I have no conception of its warrant. If I think your warrant is bad but it is uncontested, I will be fine voting on it, but I need to be able to try to explain how your warrant applies to the claim.
  • If there is no offense at the end of the round and nobody is decisively winning offense, I will vote for whomever I think is the better debater.

IMPORTANT MISCELLANEOUS Comments:
  • I wasn’t the best at flowing and was honestly surprised sometimes at what judges were able to understand without reading the case alongside the speech. PLEASE slow down for tag lines and author names – that is a minimum requirement. Most of the time if I yell slow, it will be because I am not even catching the tags of your arguments. SLOW DOWN A LOT for theory interps and plan/cp texts. I will say slow/clear three times before I dock speaks.
  • I never debated util at all; in fact, I rarely had any empirical, card-heavy debates. If you and your opponent are debating high-speed util debates, I will definitely struggle to adjudicate the round. I will try my best, but if the round turns into an intensive card/empirical debate, you might not be happy with the decision. Also, along the same lines, don't use the technical rhetoric you have become comfortable with on util debates – explain the function of every argument.
  • I haven’t read much critical literature, which means that you need to clarify your impacts. I often see critical debaters read tag lines with the same complicated rhetoric as the cards – don't do that. Explain above and below each card what it entails for the round.

Personal views: The following clarify some of the views I hold for debate. Once again, I am happy evaluating arguments to the contrary; I just believe that if both debaters are making equal arguments, I will probably be more persuaded by the following sides of the issues. This is merely to inform you of my biases, so you can be more aware of them in round.
  • Debaters should affirm/negate the topic.
  • Fairness is probably a voter
  • Education is probably not.
  • The role of the ballot is to affirm or negate based on the truth or falsity of the resolution. The judge does not have the jurisdiction to be an educator.
  • Fairness usually outweighs ROBs in debates I’ve seen, but I think there are compelling arguments to the contrary too.
  • K’s/Critical Affs need frameworks: This doesn't have to be the common view of frameworks. For example, you can justify why we should ignore abstract ethical theories and instead focus on historical instances of oppression; however, I do believe that there are other important aspects of frameworks. For example, I think the question, “Can we oppress to minimize future instances of oppression” is a valid question that illustrates that most critical frameworks leave certain issues undeveloped. To that end, I am persuaded by stances like “They say oppression is bad – I agree, but we need a ethical theory to guide our action which can contextualize how to deal with oppression. Thus, my (Kant, Levinas, etc.) framework comes first since it establishes why we even think oppression is bad in the first place and articulates how we should correct it.”
  • I don't like and will try to avoid voting on out of round issues that I don't have the capacity to personally verify: A) Disclosure theory (although I am more sympathetic to specific shells like “must disclose plan texts”, B) anything related to judge prefs/other tab stuff, C) out of round concessions, get the concession in round or win the argument.
  • I’m more persuaded by Kantian views than utilitarian ones.
  • Debate should be a civil not safe space: (Ad hominem attacks are problematic, but undermining basic moral intuitions in-round is probably permissible)

Higher speaks for:
  • Good strategic choices
  • Interesting Positions: This is probably the best way to move from good to great speaks in my view (For example, science or mathematics to justify positions, creative philosophical arguments that make me think, new applications of stock arguments, etc.)
  • Interesting contingencies – reasons why denying certain arguments lead to cool other stuff
  • Quality framework debates
  • Strategic theory shells
  • Efficiency and signposting
  • Lots of weighing
  • Fun/laid-back manner
Lower Speaks for
  • Rude demeanor in-round
  • Poor strategic decisions
  • Excluding novice opponents by not simplifying your strategy
  • Sketchiness (not in terms of arguments, but openness. You can have 30 aprioris – that’s awesome, just be open about it.)
Ultimately, FW and Theory > Contention Debate.


If you have any questions, please ask before the round (dbranse027@gmail.com). Finally, remember to have fun in round. Don't take debate too seriously, and, please don't make the debate devolve to ad hominem attacks rather than an engaging, entertaining environment.