Toernooiverslag: Cicero 2017

Op 25 november was het weer tijd voor het gezelligste debattoernooi van zuidelijk Nederland: het Cicero Toernooi. Georganiseerd door Mike en Lotte, goed bezocht door iedereen die wist waar het feestje te vinden was dit weekend (en niet in Munich of Cork of Newcastle zat). Rond 10 uur begon de eerste ronde, enigszins vertraagd door een aantal laatkomers. Dit liet in ieder geval genoeg tijd over voor een rustig ontbijt.

Om het kaf van het koren te scheiden werd afgetrapt met de stelling “DK ontzegt kinderen zonder vaccinatiebewijs toegang tot crèche en basisschool.” Deze ronde werd vervolgd door “DK voert sterk verhoogd toezicht in (bijvoorbeeld camera’s), in gebieden met hoge niveaus van criminaliteit.” Vooral met deze tweede stelling hadden een aantal oppositieteams wat moeite.

Over moeite gesproken, na de tweede stelling begaf helaas ook het tabsysteem het. Binnen no-time was dit opgelost door Mike en Georgeena, de helden van de dag. Desondanks werd hier wel weer wat vertraging opgelopen. Gelukkig was het toernooi in AP-format, wat sneller gaat dan BP en ervoor zorgde dat er in elk geval geen rondes geschrapt hoefden te worden (Hoezee! AP heeft zich weer bewezen als een briljant format).

In ronde 3 werd gedebatteerd over het invoeren van maatwerkonderwijs, een onderwijssysteem op de middelbare school waarbinnen leerlingen vakken kunnen volgen op verschillende niveaus, bijvoorbeeld natuurkunde op VWO niveau en Nederlands op VMBO-T niveau. Om de spanning er goed in te houden, was het vanaf ronde 4 tijd voor gesloten rondes. De laatste twee stellingen luidden “DK gelooft dat alleen schrijvers uit etnische minderheidsgroepen boeken mogen schrijven waarin de hoofdpersonen uit die etnische minderheidsgroepen komen” en “DK steunt de vorming van een Europees leger.”

En toen was het moment daar. Hetgeen waar het Cicerotoernooi wél om geroemd wordt: het eten! Ooit geïntroduceerd door iemand die beter bekend staat als de Messias van Cicero, de heerlijkheden verschaft voor het genot van prominent debatterend Nederland werden gepresenteerd en aangeprezen door een opengetrokken blik Cicero-vrijwilligers. Waar menig lijp links stemmend individu nog wel was te paaien voor een maaltijd waar enkel plantenleed in vermengd was, ging het gros van ons sociale niche watertandend richting het dode vlees. Met Grolsch pils in de ene hand, en de lekkernijen van Eva in de andere, was de verbale veldslag van de dag tijdelijk vergeten. Broeder- en zusterschap keerde terug naar de aula van de pittoreske middelbare school.
De halve finalestelling werd aangekondigd: “DK steunt het demonetisatieproces (de afschaffing van contant geld als betaalmiddel) in opkomende economieën.” Toepasselijke woorden van Marcus Cicero: “The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory.” In de halve finales moest de Aryan Brotherhood (Josse en Pieter) en Ceylan’s Angels (Wieger en Joeri) helaas het onderspit delven.

In de pro-am finale vonden Alex Klein en Marlise Huijzer zichzelf tegenover Axel Hirschel en Tom Huijdts om te debatteren over de stelling “DK gelooft dat volwassenen pas vlees mogen eten wanneer zij persoonlijk een dier hebben geslacht.” Terugdenkend aan het enthousiasme waarmee men zich luttele momenten daarvoor nog op de spaghetti bolognese had gestort, leek deze met het grootste gemak naar de oppositie te gaan. Met een hedonistische debatlijn waarin het geluk van een hamburger eten zegevierde, werd voor ééns en altijd de moraliteit van het veganisme uit het raam gegooid. Deze stelling zorgde naar het debat misschien wel het meest voor discussies, maar dat kon ook liggen aan het bier dat bij het avondeten werd geserveerd, dat nog steller op ging dan het eten. Wat echt heel snel ging. Er werden tot vier keer toe vrijwilligers de kou in gestuurd, terug naar de supermarkt.
Daarna was het eindelijk tijd voor de finale: “DK betreurt het narratief ‘gewoon jezelf zijn’.” De stelling was wellicht niet het gesprek van de avond, het debat zelf wel. Jan-Pjotr en Lana moesten het opnemen tegen Wieger er Veroniek om te bepalen of je nu wél, of niet jezelf moet zijn. Ook hierbij zijn de woorden van Marcus Cicero goed om naar te luisteren: “When you are aspiring to the highest place, it is honorable to reach the second or even the third rank.” Het sociaal conformeren moest in een moeilijk te beoordelen strijd de meerdere erkennen in het ‘in je eigen kracht staan’. B’vo voor het individualisme! De prijzen werden tien minuten voordat het gebouw zou sluiten uitgereikt en de meeste vreugde was nog wel te vinden in kamp Amsterdam. Nadat Josse zich jarenlang gedwongen zag het meedoen belangrijker te achten dan het winnen, mocht hij nu eindelijk een medaille om zijn nek draperen. Ook de beste novicespreker (of beloftenspreker, zeggen we dat nog?) van de dag werd aangekondigd, deze prijs ging naar Marlise Huijzer.

Aan het eind van de avond was zowel het debatvolk als de aanwezige biervoorraad redelijk uitgedund. Verdriet en vreugde werden daarom in gelijke mate verdronken in een café met een Cubaanse naam, maar specifieke namen behoorden tegen die tijd al lang tot de vergetelheid. Volgend jaar bent u allen weer welkom in Tilburg!

– Lucia van de Ven, met aanvullingen van Jan-Willem van Wouw

Preview DDL#2, by Daan Spackler

Dear debaters,

Tonight is the second night of the Dutch Debating League. LDU has the honour to host this edition. After the previous edition in Delft, this is the current ranking:

  1. Leiden, 8 points
  2. UDS, 6 points
  3. Bonaparte, 6 points
  4. EDS, 5 points
  5. Trivium, 4 points
  6. GDS, 4 points
  7. Delft, 4 points
  8. Cicero, 3 points

Participating on behalf of the societies will be:

Leiden Debating Union:                Floris Holstege & Emma Lucas

Utrecht Debating Society:            Pieter van der Veere & Elvire Landstra

ASDV Bonaparte:                            Marike Breed & Josse van Proosdij

Erasmus Debating Society:           Urmi Pahladsingh & Emma van der Horst

NSDV Trivium:                                 Ike Lieshout & Daan Welling

GDS Kalliope:                                   Linsey Keur & Lise van der Meer

TU Delft Debating Club:                Fons van der Beek & Tanya Srivastava

TDV Cicero:                                      Lisa van Vliet & Mike Weltevrede

Almost all societies are represented by other debaters than last time. Delft is the only society to send the same team, consisting of Fons “the always smiling man” van der Beek and Tanya Srivastava, who chaired the Maastricht Novice final. This team took twice a third in their home game, which resulted in four points. Fons: “We actually hoped we could take a second one of the rounds, but because of the points system, it looks like we’re going straight.” Tanya will be the only non-Dutch speaker in Leiden, but to Fons this is not really relevant. TUDDC has an international character, so he is used to it.

The other consistent factor is Cicero semi-finalist Pieter van der Veere. Pieter has been in the debating news, because of a crowdfunding that was started to make him wear high heels at the next tournament. Anonymous sources told me that UDS had some struggles finding their delegates. This is because Pieter only wanted to go if he had a team partner who is good enough for him. Fortunately, he found someone, because Mace finalist and UCU convenor Elvire Landstra joins him to make the UDS delegation complete. Elvire and Pieter feel a little rusty, because they have been judging a lot lately, but after the Cicero tournament, they are ready to fight!

Wise people say `never change a winning team’. Hosting society LDU doesn´t seem to agree upon that. Gigi and Roel did splendid jobs, winning both debates in Delft, but nevertheless they are exchanged for Warsaw EUDC Leiden A, consisting of Floris Holstege and Emma Lucas. When I asked them if they feel pressure, Floris replied ‘no’, but Emma replied that she wouldn’t dare to show her face at LDU again if they take less than five points. This notorious duo is loved and feared within the community. Not only because they became best and third ESL speaker in Tallinn, but also because of the memewar with Bonaparte. An anonymous source told me this juicy fact: “Emma was about to go with Marike, but apparently, Bona did not find her good enough, so now she’s speaking on behalf of Leiden.” Floris and Emma hold a little grudge and really want to beat Bona, but unfortunately, they won’t meet each other tomorrow.

Their old nemesis Bonaparte is represented by DTU Fantasy team House Targaryan, consisting of Roosevelt Open finalist Marike Breed and Josse van Proosdij, who was named best speaker at the Cicero tournament. To show their awesomeness, Bona brings a crapload of supporters. When I asked Marike the inevitable question, about whether she wants to perform better than LDU, Marike replied: “We always feel pressure to perform well, but with a bunch of Bonaparte supporters, that pressure is even bigger.” Rumour has it that Amber van Lochem was writing new Bona-songs last weekend, so the supporters are probably going to be enthusiastic (and annoying) as always.

Erasmus Debating Society also shows up with an entirely different team. Emma van der Horst, who was CA in Delft, is now going to prove her skills for her society. The UCU semi-finalist knows that she needs to live up to a lot of expectations, as EDS got ranked third in the predictions. With her will be speaking Urmi Pahladsingh, who does not show up at many student tournaments. Fun fact, Urmi was in the same team as David Metz and Louis Honée in the final for schoolies 2014/2015, which David can’t seem to get out of his head. Furthermore, she was a finalist at Erasmus Rotterdam Open 2016.

NSDV Trivium is represented by UCU finalists Daan “vegan self-aware privilege boy (thanks Ike)” Welling and Ike “mama Trivium” Lieshout. Ike is known to be the fire feminist of the debating community and to have an amazing clothing style. Daan, as a former member of LDU, said that he wants to beat his old society in “the Lion’s den.” So far, Trivium has been living up to the expectations, as they are fifth in the ranking right know, but Ike and Daan want to change this.

GDS Kalliope will be represented by the Tilburg Women’s finalists, Linsey Keur and Lise van der Meer. Lise was last seen on a tournament at the KDT, where she was CA. Linsey was last seen on every tournament ever including the Cicero tournament, which she CA’ed. GDS got ranked eighth in the predictions, so the Groningers really want to prove everyone wrong. In the previous round they took four points. Linsey: “We are happy with four points, but Lise and I will try to do better, even though the other teams are very good. ”

Last but not least, TDV Cicero, who hosts the Dutch Nationals this year (congrats!), is represented by chairwoman Lisa van Vliet and Mighty Mike Weltevrede, who is known for his controversial speaker points analysis. This duo almost reached the break at Rotterdam Open last year and is not going easy on any of the other teams. It’s clear that they want to get rid of their place at the bottom of the ranking. Mike: “The competition is strong, but we are just going to do what we always do: our utmost. There is no specific strategy. (Although you never van really do wrong with determinism.”

 

It is clear that all the teams are very excited. We wish them the best of luck. May de motions be ever in their favour.

Spackler out.

Commentary on Dutch Debating League #1: TUDDC

By Daan Spackler

 

Good evening dear debaters. Last Tuesday was the kick-off of the Dutch Debating League (DDL). For those who are not familiar with the DDL, eight institutions send two delegates to represent themselves and debate the other institutions. Every society hosts one night, which means there are eight nights. The debates will be held in the British Parliamentary format. When a team wins, it gets 4 points, second means 3 points, third means 2 points, fourth means 1 point, not showing up gives you 0 points.

The first night was in Delft. When I walked in, I noticed that the atmosphere was a little competitive, but still very nice. I interviewed some people to get to know their opinions and expectations.

Leiden (Gigi and Roel) gave the impression that they were going to bring their A-game. Roel used this opportunity as an excuse to wear his blazer and his tie. When I asked about it, he said “Jasje dasje, lul!”, which can’t really be translated. Everyone knows that Roel and Gigi would have been shamed if they did not take eight points. Marike already texted Roel “eight points or we’re done”. It was very clear that Leiden was not going to take it easy on anyone.

But neither was UDS, consisting of Pieter and Florine. “We are very excited for tonight,” is what Pieter told me. Florine agreed and said “I’m very happy to represent UDS for once”. When I asked her how the UDS/UCU construction worked, she pointed at her sweater and showed that she was the only one wearing a UDS sweater.

Trivium, represented by Ellen and Simone, hid in the corner, but I wanted to make sure I had spoken with my own society as well. When I asked them how the felt about tonight, the keyword was ‘nervous’. Simone: “I’m looking forward to the first round, but the nerves are coming right now.” I asked Ellen if she had faith in tonight, but she replied that she had faith in Simone, which is good enough.

Bjorn spoke on behalf of GDS. “Yes, of course, I think it’s going to be fun. I just hope that Joris is going to show up as soon as possible, otherwise, I have a problem.” I was surprised that GDS matriarch Linsey wasn’t coming, but she had other duties.

The last society I managed to interview before round one, was Cicero, represented by Euros team Cicero A, Jos and Lotte. Jos gave me a very inspiring analysis on the first DDL night: “We’re standing at the beginning of something beautiful, Daan. The beginning of a competition that is going to form a new generation of debaters. They will look back on this very day, as the beginning of a new debating world.” Wise words if you ask me. Lotte said that I can’t interview her after she did not do so well, so I left her with a compliment on her outfit.

Fun fact: Emma van der Horst, who was CA with Niels Buijssen, had made cupcakes. They were delicious, so here is an extra moment of appreciation for Emma’s cupcakes.

After round one, the results were announced. The two teams that took a first were LDU and Bona, UDS and Trivium second, Delft and Cicero third, and unfortunately a fourth to GDS and EDS.

I went to Zeno and Lana, who represented Bonaparte. The DAPDI winners seemed rather cool about their win. Zeno: “Such a pity that not everyone can take a fourth.” Lana agreed and said: “This was dramatic. We are happy that the panel bought our case.” I replied that I thought their case was quite solid. Steven from EDS: 80 speaks anyway! (He wasn’t judging.) Zeno added to this: “Please note that Ajax beat Feyenoord with 4-1!”

EDS, represented by Joeri and Jelle, wasn’t really in for a short interview. Joeri: “No comments at all.” Jelle: “Shut the fuck up with your SevenTwenty, it was way better when Jelte did it (Thanks Jelle, red.).” Even Sterre had no comments for me. (L)

Hosting society Delft was represented by Fons and Tanya. I asked: “When I say first DDL night, what do you say?” Tanya: “Yay, it’s awesomeeee! I’m super excited!” After that, she started laughing about the Febo stains in Roel’s shirt. Fons, as founder of TUDDC seemed very proud of his society, and rightly so!

Round two started quite quick. This debate was about redistributing donations for charity. The draws were made randomly, but it turned out that the teams that took a first or a second met each other and the teams that took a third or a fourth met each other. LDU and EDS took a first, UDS and GDS a second, Bona and Delft a third and Trivium and Cicero, unfortunately, a fourth.

This means two things. Firstly, these are the results after the first DDL night:

  1. Leiden, 8 points
  2. UDS, 6 points
  3. Bonaparte, 6 points
  4. EDS, 5 points
  5. Trivium, 4 points
  6. GDS, 4 points
  7. Delft, 4 points
  8. Cicero, 3 points

Secondly, Roel and Marike stay together! <3. I think the whole debating community is happy with this.

It was a nice start of the Dutch Debating League. I think Emma and Niels did splendid jobs by setting two awesome motions and judging the debates very good. I also want to give a big compliment to the organization of Delft and the DDL committee. Until next time!

Preview of Dutch Debating League #1 – Delft!

Geschreven door: Jos Buijvoets

The first matchday of the Dutch Debating League will take place today! In this preview you’ll find all the predictions, statistics and analysis you need to get warmed up for this exciting day!

Participating on behalf of the societies will be:
Utrecht: Florine Rombach & Pieter van der Veere
Cicero: Lotte Claassen & Jos Buijvoets
Bonaparte: Zeno Glastra van Loon & Lana Moss
Delft: Fons van der Beek & Tanya Srivastava
Groningen: Joris Graff & Bjorn Bleumink
Erasmus: Jelle van Eijk & Joeri Willems
Trivium: Simone Landman & Ellen Goltstein
Leiden: Roel Becker & Gigi Gil

With close to perfect gender balance, these teams represent the best the Dutch debating scene has to offer. We’ll look at each of the teams and what they bring to the table. First however we would like to present to you the consensus predictions of the Dutch Debating Society as voted on by its members.

1. Leiden
2. Bonaparte
3. Erasmus
4. Utrecht
5. Trivium
6. Cicero
7. Delft
8. Groningen

Note that Erasmus and Utrecht tied in these predictions, and therefore we gave the win to Erasmus for [reasons], which seemed the fairest solution.

Now on to the teams!

Representing Utrecht will be Florine and Pieter. Florine is known for advocating on behalf of her actual debating society, UCU, to be part of the Dutch Debating League. She has taken up quite the cause as within the current set of rules this not only does this require the elimination of one of the participating societies, but also for UCU to be given preference over (potential) members of the debating union such as Eindhoven, Maastricht and Wageningen. Pieter is known for being one of the best debaters of the Netherlands, breaking at a number of tournaments and doing really well at both EUDC 2016 and 2017, coming close to an ESL break twice. He’s also studying to be a doctor!

Representing organizational heavyweight Cicero will be Lotte and Jos, Cicero A. Lotte is an Oxford Women’s finalist, the Tilburg University campus poet and will be going to exchange on Japan in a few months, and you will be missed! She is also the Convenor of Cicero 2017, the most enjoyable debating tournament of The Netherlands. Jos is the founder of a bunch of stuff, we don’t really know what he does all day; and he also a number of speaker and judge breaks at debate tournaments, good for you Jos! He will be a CA at Maastricht Novice 2017, which you should attend.

Representing Bonaparte will be DAPDI 2017 champions, Bonaparte B: Zeno & Lana. Zeno is known for having a bunch of novice breaks and pursues two degrees, one of which is biology, I think? Lana is the chairwoman of Bonaparte and tasked with challenges such as managing Axel, Tom and Josse. You people know what I’m talking about. Sorry for including you Tom. The pressure is on for these two as they are considered the 2nd strongest team present by the Dutch Debating Community!

Home team Delft will be represented by Fons and Tanya. Fons is of course known as the founder of Delft and will have the audience rooting for him. He is also an aerospace engineer, making Pieter feel what other people feel when he tells them he’s going to be a doctor. Tanya is the only non-Dutch person participating, which now becomes awkward as it is pointed out explicitly. She is one of the key people behind Delft and would have showed some remarkable skill at EUDC 2017, if she had actually made the tournament.

Groningen will be represented by Joris and Bjorn. Joris is a philosopher, ranks 93th on the Dutch debating rankings and is as a board member one of the pillars of the Groningen Debating Society. Bjorn studies public administration and uses his debating skills for the greater good, teaching children on behalf of the organization known as Socrates. He is from Winterswijk which is officially the coldest place in The Netherlands, so expect him to bring the heat.

Erasmus will be represented by Jelle and Joeri. Jelle is known for his organizational contributions to debating such as being DAPDI convenor or a Dutch Worlds org com member. His self-professed biggest accomplishment in debating is beating Jos at tournaments! He also has some speaker breaks. Joeri is known for having a number of speaker breaks, reaching the finals of Bonaparte 2017. He also has a bunch of pets and there was a fire in his building recently. Hopefully the pets are alright!

Trivium will be sending Simone and Ellen. Simone is known for breaking at a bunch of tournaments as both speaker and judge. She was a judge at EUDC 2017 and an org com member at WUDC 2017. Ellen is a Trivium board member and known for getting tagged in memes a lot.

Gigi and Roel will be representing Leiden, the society that will shame them for not winning every round. Gigi broke open at WUDC 2017, is Dutch national debating champion and a EUDC 2018 CA, so she’s pretty good. Roel was 2nd best ESL speaker at EUDC 2015 and reached the open quarter-finals of EUDC 2017, using an extension he stole from Cicero A. He has retired multiple times from debating, but still shows up for this, what a character!

WUDC Bid – Mexico

SevenTwenty will give all bids for WUDC a space to promote their bid. First up: Mexico. 

Why did we decide to host the World Universities Debating Championship in México?

WUDC Mexico

It can be argued that México is America’s youngest democracy, with only 16 years of existence. This step though, has not meant that all the democratic freedoms are available to everyone. The majority (over 50 million) of people in the country remain poor, and under 15% are able to attend university. There is also a big misunderstanding of what democracy means, particularly because there are systemic constraints that avoid people to be well informed of what happéns in the country, or see alternatives to paradigms or political options that are presented in a dogmatic way.

México is a country in sheer need of debate. Here it is largely (mis)understood as talking in a sophisticated and rhetoric way. that might totally lack content but as long as it sounds like “a political speech” it is considered a great speech. This has very negative results in terms of what is understood as “debate” in politics, education and everyday life.

There are, however, some of us that are students or former students that are in a position of privilege and have attended some of the best universities in the country and the world, and have have competed at the world’s main tournaments. We want to change the meaning of the word “debate” here, and we are sure that bringing an event like the World Universities Debating Championship will give important visibility to the activity, change paradigms of what it means, get more support to the activity from key public and private actors that can help spread the activity around the country, and it would help us help set up several teams.

In 2014, the Tec de Monterrey Campus Estado de México team organized WUDC in Spanish (CMUDE) and bringing it here had a multiplier effect: internationally,we literally called universities and set the first parliamentary debate teams in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Panamá to compete at the tournament. After that, Panamá has already hosted a national championship and competed at Worlds 2016. With Worlds in México we will make sure the same happens and that several countries that have never attended Worlds or have been absent for several years, are finally able to participate. Same case with many teams from countries that already attend Worlds, but can’t afford the trip. It is time, after 38 years, for Worlds to come to our region.

Domestically, before that tournament we could only talk about three teams in the country, all from the México City metropolitan area. But for that championship, 12 universities competed, and that helped us concrete several projects in 2015: we had a Metropolitan League, a National Championship in Spanish (with teams from 8 states and 16 universities), a National Championship in English (MUDC), and México rose from being a single university competing three years earlier, to seventeen at CMUDE Colombia, becoming the country with most teams.

At WUDC México 2018 we are committed to change the meaning of WUDC and attach many social programs based on debate for México and the region of Latin America and the Caribbean in the two years leading towards the tournament, as well as the days before and during the event, with plans for making it a turning point for canalizing resources for future debate projects.

Beyond all of this, the Mexicans are people that are very passionate about our country and culture, and we love to share it with the world. Maybe in debate we have not won world championships, but if there was a “best host” world championship, we would be tough to beat. We want to show that. We are keen to show that the Mexicans defy stereotypes and can put on world-class events in terms of hospitality and organization and our commitment is to do the best WUDC ever. When we hosted CMUDE we gave another meaning to that championship (and ran a tab with no delays), and we want to use local talent for innovating on tab, IT, registration, social impact and many other areas where we will leave a legacy for debating.

Every bid will include a world -class adjudication team. What they cannot promise is a plan for real deep social change, the cheerful spirit (not only in terms of alcohol) of the Mexicans, the city with most World Heritage sites in the world, and our eagerness to share why we can be the best hosts, always. We’re proud to propose.

David Alatorre López & Montserrat Legorreta

Co-Convenors WUDC México 2018

Powerful Adjudication – Protecting the quality of our circuit

Tomas Beerthuis reflects on adjudication in the Dutch Debating Circuit. 
Adjudication, a crucial part of competitive debate, is under increased pressure and threat in the Dutch debating scene. In order to ensure continuous growth of new debaters, we need to protect the quality of adjudication and with that, the quality of debate. For that, a different approach is necessary.
Why good judging is crucial
A lot of us love debating because it allows you to play an intelligent game that can be won by being better at playing it. When judges fail to understand the rules of the game, part of the fun disappears. Few people are born a good judge, it requires time and practice to internalize the rules and etiquette. When you play Tennis and you are serving, it’s annoying when the referee doesn’t know that when the ball touches the net and subsequently crosses it, it means you get another service. When playing Hasbro’s Risk, it’s annoying when another player doesn’t know that you can cross from the Middle East to East Africa. When you play football and the other side scores when it’s off-side, it would be frustrating if the goal would count nonetheless. When the outcome of a debate is arbitrary, based on individual preferences, winning and losing becomes luck. It’s then a bit like Russian roulette, where you hope to get lucky each time.
Apart from reduced fun, poor adjudication influences how much people learn. Great feedback that is spot on can really give people the boost that they need to develop their skills and feel empowered. Moreover, without good adjudication, competitions are simply no longer fair. It’s much less fun to call yourself the winner of a tournament if the results were completely random. Especially in a game where we like to test ourselves in competitions, we need to ensure that there is a very strong common understanding of what winning looks like. Without that, the foundation of the game is lost.
Threats to good adjudication in The Netherlands
The Dutch debating scene, still a relatively small scene, has historically had a relatively deep and wide judging pool. Today there are 2 key developments:
#1: There is a decrease in training new judges
Debating societies spend much less time on training new judges than they did historically. There are few judging workshops, there is little encouragement for judging as a separate challenge and very few rewards for judges from societies. For example, judges often need to pay to go to a tournament, which can work as a discouragement. This development breaks down the foundations needed to build a strong pool of judges in the Dutch circuit. Often societies struggle to balance various priorities, such as recruitment, finance and tournaments. However, what’s important to recognize, is that without investment in adjudication, the game gets badly damaged. It’s not much use organizing a fantastic debate evening or a tournament if the outcomes are rubbish. It discourages people, leads them to believe that the game is random and diminishes their development.
#2: There are too few (good) judges
The historically wide and deep judging pool has decreased over the past few years. Increasingly, tournaments are struggling to fit each room with a competent chair judge, leading to a decrease in the strength of our adjudication. This is partly because of development #1, but also because societies tend to send novice members to adjudicate, rather than mobilizing their experienced core. There is also a tendency to break/dodge the N-1 rule, furthering strengthening the problem at tournaments.
How we change the tide 
There are tons of initiatives possible to change these developments. Below I suggest some that I support and that have shown to be effective in the past.
1. Use incentives to promote judging 
We need to reward judging as something that is valuable to our game and community. Not only does this give proper credit, it also encourages others to judge more. Think of things like making judges attend a tournament for free (no reg-fee) or getting a free drink. For top judges, consider paying for their travel costs or parking. Societies wanting to organize a tournament should include this as a cost line in their budget. Or set-up a point system (possibly within societies) that allows you to be prioritized for tournaments when you’ve judged a lot. Alternatively, use a stick rather than a carrot and set-up a system where you need to judge in order to speak at tournaments.
2. Mobilize (experienced) judges to judge
Societies very often do not meet their N-1 rule or send novice judges to competitions. This doesn’t help judging, because there will be too few experienced judges to help train the novice judges. Moreover, there are too few judges in numbers as well, because societies often try to dodge the N-1 rule. This needs a change in behavior from societies to mobilize more (experienced) judges. There is a role for the Dutch Debating Association to help enforce this.
3. Actively train new judges 
I strongly believe that societies should invest in actively training new judges. This can be done by organizing judging workshops, sharing educational videos or just spending 5 minutes at the beginning of a debate evening to discuss a judging question or case, inspiring people to think like a judge.
4. Share knowledge across the circuit 
There is a role for the Dutch Debating Association to leverage the existing knowledge sharing system online, organize workshops or promote cross-society learning. Think of sharing judge briefings, videos, documentation or possibly even picking judge accreditation back up. It’s also the Association’s responsibility to protect judging across the circuit.
5. Take individual responsibility 
This applies more to experienced debaters than those just starting. Having enjoyed good adjudication gives you a responsibility to give back to the circuit by going to tournaments and judging yourself. In a game where everything relies on volunteers, this is your chance to give back to debating and help others be as good as you became.
Putting in place the measures above will no doubt help to bring back judging to a higher level. We need to also sustain that over time. What tends to happen in debating, is that we forget about judging when the circuit or a society is having a challenging time. Especially then, we need more investment in good judging. When your society is struggling to retain members, it will not do much good to have even worse judging. This will deter people from debating further, rather than make your life easier. It would also exacerbate all of the issues outlined above, leading to worse outcomes.

We can bring back powerful adjudication to our circuit – using smart tools to encourage and cherish judging. Simultaneously, we should take responsibility for judging and share our knowledge across the circuit. It’s important to maintain a dialogue around developments such as these in our circuit. In order to respond adequately to challenges in Dutch debating, we need to identify existing problems and offer solutions to try and make a change. It’s my hope that this article will contribute to that as a first step.

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Photo credit to Manuel Adams

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