Shanara Reid-Brinkley
Assistant Professor of Communication
Director of Debate
University of Pittsburgh

I was an Emory debater in the mid to late 90’s and achieved some national success. I was a grad assistant at Alabama. I have been away from the activity for the past five years, although I have occasionally hired out to judge a few tournaments in that time period.
That being said, yes I remember how to flow, yes speed is fine, no I’m not up on the topic in any depth (I’m a director and not a coach). That means you should pay attention to how well you explain anything that is topic specific and avoid using topic specific acronyms.
In college, my debate style was left of center, but I was trained at Emory which means as much as I lean toward critiques and performance debates as my personal preference, I am equally as qualified to judge straight up policy debates. In debates where the policy framework meets the critical framework I vote for the team with the better argument even if I find the opposing teams position more interesting or entertaining, I can reward that with speaker points.
I don’t have any preconceived ideas about debate theory, so I tend to vote directly on the flow. If you win the theory argument and it has implications that you explain, I’m more than willing to vote there.
I am open to and willing to engage alternative stylistic practices and choices for debates.
I hate reading evidence after a debate because it means that the debaters have been sloppy and inefficient in explaining and defending their arguments. Thus, I only read cards if you have not done your job. That being said, if there is evidence you would like to be a part of my consideration because if I need to read evidence, I will only call for what has been directly referenced by you.
Important things to know about debating in front of me. I like smart asses, in general, but I think to many people cross the line in debate. So be forceful and aggressive, but watch the rudeness factor with the other team. It gets under my skin. But, more importantly, watch your attitude with me. I am infamous for arguing with teams after a decision. I will be respectful toward you initially, the more disrespectful and confrontational you become, the more of the same you will get. I’m a 5ft 2in. black woman from inner-city Atlanta. I may be older and wiser, but I will still get at ‘cha. That being said, I’m always willing to calmly and rationally discuss a decision, you can often learn what is likely to win my ballot and that can be a serious advantage for you throughout the year. I can be very supportive and will offer suggestions both for improving debate skills, but also in improving arguments, and pointing to interesting directions for more evidence. If your research pertains to any of the following subject matters, I might be a particularly useful judge for you: feminist theories (particularly women of color), critical social theories of race, poststructural theories of race, gender, class, and sexuality; globalization; hip hop; cultural studies, etc.