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Frequently Asked Questions


Eligibility and Registration

Who is eligible to participate in Global Debate at NYU?
Any matriculated undergraduate student in a degree granting program is eligible to participate in the Bickel & Brewer Global Debate Program. Find out more in Rules and Regulations.

What do I need to do to register?
To register, you must complete the form available on The Bickel & Brewer Global Debate Program Blackboard page.

Is there a limit to entries?
No, there will be no limit on the number of entries at this time, however the organizers reserve the right to cap entries based on room availability. All who wish to participate and are eligible may do so.

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Partnerships

Does my partner need to complete a separate registration form?
Yes, individual participants must complete their own form.

Can I compete without a partner?
It depends. For the international competition, you do not need a partner for the opening round, although partnerships are strongly encouraged. For the domestic competition, you must have a partner for the competition.

Who can be my partner?
Students may partner with any other eligible undergraduate student. For the international competition, the organizers encourage students to partner with others from their Study Abroad site.

What if I don't have or can't find a partner?
The organizers will help facilitate partnerships where possible.

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Prior Experience

Do I need to have public speaking or debate experience to participate?
No, students with no experience are strongly encouraged to participate. A major goal of this program is to give people without such experience an opportunity to try it out.

How will I know what to do if I have no experience at public speaking or debate?
We will offer training sessions for students who would like the opportunity to gain more information or public speaking practice. Once they register, students can also arrange to meet with the Coordinator or one of the involved faculty members to discuss the topic. Also, we strongly encourage you to practice, especially with other teams in your school or Residence Hall. Please use the resources provided as much as possible.

Do I have to attend the training session with my partner?
No, you and your partner may attend separately if schedules do not allow you to attend together. However, it is strongly advised that you make every attempt to attend together.

Can I still attend a training/information session if I do not yet have a partner?
Yes, and you may use the session to find a partner.

Am I eligible to participate if I am on one of the competitive speech or debate teams such as Mock Trial, Parliamentary Debate, Cross-Examination Debate, or Speech?
Yes, and while you may have more of a background in persuasive public speaking, you may want to use the training sessions to learn about the topic and identify ways of adapting your normal competitive speaking style to the different format being used and to learn about the topic.

Do people with experience in a speech or debate activity have an advantage over other students?
No, all participants will start out on equal footing. Some people with specific debate experiences may find it hard to adapt their normal competitive style into the more public forum style of the event.

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Training

What does "training" mean?
The organizers and interested clubs will sponsor workshops about basic public speaking techniques and methods of argumentation. These sessions will provide examples of particular argument styles related to the topic and discuss research strategies provided for the topic and how evidence can be effectively incorporated into speech making.

Will training be provided outside of the scheduled training sessions?
We strongly advise students to identify student organizations and faculty in their schools that might be useful resources for information and practice.

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Topic

What is the topic and when is it announced?
The topic is announced every fall and will be posted on the General Information page of this website.

Why isn't the topic phrased as a question?
The topic is a resolution. The term "Resolved" indicates that one side, the affirmative, should advocate that the action of the topic should be taken. The other side, the negative, is responsible for disproving the statement of the resolution and demonstrating how the affirmative's call for action is flawed.

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Research

Do I have to do research on the topic on my own?
Research can provide students with a competitive edge. A list of links to websites will be provided on the Resources page.

Besides background, is there any other purpose for the research?
Yes. Students are expected to support their claims and arguments in their speeches in competition. To do so, competitors should refer to specific warrants and evidence from the research to justify their points in the debate. Additionally, judges and opponents have opportunities to ask questions during the debate round.

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General Competition (DOMESTIC)

Are we expected to practice prior to the competition?
The more you practice any speaking skill, the more you will improve. The organizers can help arrange practice sessions if necessary, but strongly encourages students to arrange such sessions on their own.

What is the format of the debates?
The format is available on the information page, but essentially involves two teams of two people each alternating speeches on the topic, with cross examination periods after each person speaks for the first time. Find out more about the debate format in General Information.

Why does the affirmative both begin and end the debate?
The affirmative must begin the debate so that the ground of the debate can be firmly established. It ends the debate because generally it is assumed that the affirmative has a higher burden of proof since they want something to change from the status quo and the negative has many options in explaining how the change would be detrimental. The person who speaks last has a slight advantage in what people will remember, so this counters the burden-of-proof issue. This is why prosecutors in trials who must argue guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" also may choose to speak last.

Why does the negative speak twice in a row in the middle of the debate?
The negative speaks twice in part to equalize any competitive advantages that the affirmative may have in speaking first and last. Also, this structure is required in order to allow the affirmative to speak last. This structure allows the negative to develop their arguments in depth, which is important because the affirmative got to choose the ground of the debate in their first speech. Strategically the negative should use this opportunity to make as many points against the affirmative as possible, and to maximize the time crunch the first affirmative rebuttal will have in the next speech.

Why are there only cross examinations after the first four speeches?
Cross-examinations provide an opportunity for the debaters to clarify the points made by the other side so that they can strongly refute them. They also offer an opportunity to point out flaws in the other side's arguments. Cross-examinations can be very powerful performance tools in establishing credibility. However, at some point competitors should stop adding new points to the debate and should start comparing and evaluating the arguments on both sides and their merits. Once this "rebuttal" stage of the debate is reached, cross-examination is less useful because the clarification has already been done and debaters should try to avoid making many new points. Finally, each debater will have already had one chance to answer and one chance to ask questions, so the time allocated for cross examination is sufficient.

What is a rebuttal?
A rebuttal is a speech in which competitors respond to and evaluate the arguments of the other side in comparison to the arguments that they have made so far. Rebuttal arguments might include indicting the source of the warrants for a given argument, discussing why the evidence that supports one side's arguments is better than the evidence from another side, identifying how different arguments interact, or explaining how the other side's responses to an argument are insufficient. Specifically, the first Affirmative Rebuttal should indicate what the key arguments are for the affirmative side in each issue. The second Negative Rebuttal should indicate what arguments mean that the negative should win and why. This speech should also predict and preempt the reasons the affirmative will state as to why the affirmative should win. The second Affirmative Rebuttal should explain why their arguments are the most valid and deserve a win.

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Judging

How will judges evaluate the competition?
Judges will evaluate the competition on a number of criteria, including persuasiveness and content of the speeches. In general, the judges are looking for how well each side advocates its own points while responding to and engaging in the arguments from the other team. This is an activity about intellectual engagement and substance. Although style is important and can be essential in conveying a point, it should not be a substitute for supported analysis.

Who will be judging the competition?
Interested faculty will volunteer not only to prepare students, but also to judge in the preliminary competition. Graduate students will also judge, making this a truly University-wide event. Excellent faculty judges will be honored as guest coaches for the elimination competition.

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The Elimination Rounds

What is elimination round?
An elimination round is one in which only the winning team will continue on in the competition.

What is the difference between the preliminary competition and the elimination rounds?
The preliminary competition is open to all participants and all participants will debate three rounds. Only the top teams will advance to the elimination rounds, which will consist of octofinals, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. In these rounds, only the winner of the round advances to the next round of competition. All participants in the elimination rounds will receive recognition and awards.

How do I qualify for the elimination rounds?
The top teams based on their win loss record AND their combined speaker evaluations will advance to the elimination rounds.

General Competition (INTERNATIONAL)

Are we expected to practice prior to the competition?
Since the preliminary rounds consist of video submissions, you will want to put your best foot forward by practicing before entering your final work.

What is the format of the debates?
The format is available on the information page, but essentially involves teams submitting short videos in favor of or against the topic for review by the organizers. The best submitters will advance to the later rounds. Find out more about the debate format in General Information. The elimination rounds will be held at NYU and follow the format outlined for the domestic competition (see above).

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Judging

How will judges evaluate the competition?
Judges will evaluate the competition on a number of criteria, including persuasiveness and content of the speeches. In general, the judges are looking for how well each side advocates its own points while responding to and engaging in the arguments from the other team. This is an activity about intellectual engagement and substance. Although style is important and can be essential in conveying a point, it should not be a substitute for supported analysis.

Who will be judging the competition?
Interested faculty will volunteer not only to prepare students, but also to judge in the preliminary competition. Graduate students will also judge, making this a truly University-wide event. Excellent faculty judges will be honored as guest coaches for the elimination competition.

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Results

How will I find out the results of the competition?
There will be a public posting of the students who advance on the website. Results of the preliminary competition will be posted on this website soon after the competition. All participants will be emailed directly with the names of the teams advancing to the Elimination Rounds within three days of the end of the preliminary competition.

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The Elimination Rounds

What is elimination round?
An elimination round is one in which only the winning team will continue on in the competition.

What is the difference between the preliminary competition and the elimination rounds?
The biggest difference is that the preliminary rounds will be visual competitions (based on video submissions) and the elimination rounds will be oral competitions (based on head-to-head debates similar to the preliminary rounds of the domestic competition).
The preliminary round of international competition is open to all NYU students who have international placements for the spring semester. These students will submit videos. Only the top submitters will advance to the elimination rounds. The elimination rounds will be held at NYU Washington Square campus and will consist of octofinals, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. In these rounds, only the winner of the round advances to the next round of competition. All participants in the elimination rounds will receive recognition and awards.

How do I qualify for the elimination rounds?
The top teams based on their combined video evaluations will advance to the elimination rounds.

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