[eDebate] Our take on Mutually Preferred Judging

Ede Warner ewarner
Wed Nov 22 09:10:49 CST 2006

Dear Debate Community,
As someone with a very different take on MPJ, I thought now a good time
to reflect on our fall semester here at Louisville.  By now, most of you
know that we debated the entire semester without filling out a pref
sheet.  In fact, all of the tournaments we attended (Ga State, Kentucky,
Vanderbilt, Wayne State, JMU, Wake Forest, App State) had MPJ, except
Vanderbilt I believe.  Last year, at Wake Forest, we did not prefer
judges and had 2 teams achieve 5-3 records, both missing on points.
This year, we had a 5-3 team at Ga State and Wayne.  We had 4-4 teams
at Kentucky and Wake.  We cleared our first team of the new era at Wayne
State, as well as a novice team at JMU, and a team reach the semi's at
App State.  So from a competitive success standpoint, our gains if
defined solely by competitive success were modest to say the least,
depending on one's perspective.  From my vantage point, I was quite
pleased given our attempts at creating a new method for policy debate,
while simultaneously trying to engage the topic, and given the
experience levels of our debaters.  I think they did great!
But of course, our team rarely measures itself solely by competitive
success.  The loss of MPJ was difficult at times, downright defeatist
and frightening.  The Tom Cruise moment in Mission Impossible where he
says, "It's so much worse than you thought" was often our feeling going
into many debates.  No MPJ required us to think collectively as well as
individually about creating broad rhetorical strategies in some places,
but also, where to individualize those strategies for a particular
critic.  An amazingly difficult task but worthwhile task in a
multi-cultural society where people are different.
We had debates where we perhaps didn't adapt, weren't persuasive, or
occasionally, had a judge so fused with Louisville baggage from the
past, they couldn't hear what was happening in the debate they where
watching.  Most of the time it was us though, something missing in our
argument, some element that was unclear, some element not yet figured
out.  But something we usually could point to where we could debate
better for a critic the next time.
The exciting part was that, for the most part, judges overwhelmingly
liked our new strategy, especially in comparison to what we use to do. 
The more exciting part was the new relationships that we began to
cultivate, with judges who have rarely or never heard Louisville debate.
 Watching our team of Rose and Walker win Toni Nielson on Saturday night
and Patrick Waldinger on Sunday morning was a poignant moment for me. 
Listening to Marissa Silber's kind words after round seven meant so much
more than the win or the loss.  
Now that said, we are likely abandoning our judging preference
experiment in the short term.  Why?  Because we think there is a more
effective way y to reach our newest collective goal at Louisville:  to
create effective policy making for a multi-cultural society.  Ebony Rose
and Jason Walker at Wake Forest; Brian Huot and Mary Mudd as well as
Richard Funches and Marian Kennedy at App State, claimed a movement's
debate advantage called the Policy Implementation Multi-culturalism
Preparation Movement (P.I.M.P.)  I want to personal thank them for
having the courage to try something new, and making the personal
sacrifices necessary to help move our community forward.  They are
Next Wednesday, I will be prepared to persuade our students and staff
to make the following modifications to the Louisville argument
Prefer women and people of color as 1's; white men who have
demonstrated an understanding of the importance of difference and
deference in policy making construction in a multi-cultural society
versus a mono-cultural society will be 2's; and the rest of the judging
community will be made 3's.   No one will be struck.  The rationale: 
much like in Montgomery Bus Boycott, the protesters targeted other
Blacks to not ride since they had the most invested in the protest,
although they still made their message to everyone.  We believe that
minority groups in debate have the most to gain by recognizing the
importance of creating a set of evaluation standards.  We also believe
that it is important to use our agency to empower this group in a
community where these judge's for whatever reason, seem to lack power
relative to their status and numbers in the community. 
Change the name of P.I.M.P. to E.M.P.O.W.E.R. (Education for a
Multicultural Policy Outcomes World through Engaged Rhetoric).  More on
the reasons later. 
Release a set of demands for our Movement, which identify the
differences between debate in a mono-cultural society versus a
multi-cultural one.  Based in part on the structure of the Black
Panthers, we will probably call these our 10 point program. 
Release criteria of what it means to participate in the movement for
debaters, judges, and coaches and release more specific information
about the end goals of the movement.
If I can persuade my staff and squad to come onboard next Wednesday,
then we will release more information about this next week.  If I can't
persuade them, we'll back to the drawing board and we will be in touch. 
Although I know for some the debating continues, I wish the community a
restful time off during breaks, holidays or until we see each other
again.  That's all for now.  Take care,
Ede "Doc" Warner
Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu 
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