21 day debate journey from Vermont to Missouri to Serbia to Slovenia and back to Vermont, January, 2003
| Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten |




The Lawrence Debate Union is an endowed co-curricular program at the University if Vermont. Active since 1899, the LDU trains students in debating and enters them in competitions all over the world. The LDU participates in USA policy debate sponsored by the Cross Examination Debate Association, the National Debate Tournament, and the Society Advocating More and Better Argumentation. Last year the LDU was in almost 900 debates, finished ninth in the national sweepstakes race, held numerous public debates, presented over 25 television programs, and engaged in numerous outreach activities. I am lucky enough to be the director of the LDU.

I have been a debate coach at the university level since 1972 and I starting coaching high school debate in 1970. Since 1995 I have been involved in promoting debate in nations other than the USA.

We have traditionally taken a long debate trip during the break between the fall and spring semesters. Students return to campus right after Christmas, work 9 AM-5 PM preparing for the rest of December, and then after new year we drive from Vermont to Kansas City (27 hours). In Kansas City we attend two three-day debate tournaments and then we drive home (another 27 hours). We generally use this trip as a way to dramatically raise the performance of our younger debaters through the days of preparation and then we enter them in higher divisions at the tournaments so that they can learn from their competition.

The preparation days involve the same sorts of activities. We do speaking drills, have practice debates, work on files, do research, have strategy meetings, etc. Because USA policy debate involves one topic that we debate for an entire year, and because it is allowable to read quoted material in the debates, research and preparation are critical for success. This year the topic is, resolved: that the United States federal government should ratify or accede to and implement one or more of the following: Kyoto protocols, Strategic offensive Reduction treaty, International Criminal Court, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Second optional protocol to the Rome Convention banning the death penalty. The affirmative team picks one of these treaties to have the USA adopt, and the negative opposes that.


Policy debates in America are very complex, high-speed affairs full of argumentative jargon and intellectual shorthand. The time limits are as follows:
First affirmative constructive 9 minutes
Cross-examination 3 minutes
First negative constructive 9 minutes
Cross-examination 3 minutes
Second affirmative constructive 9 minutes
Cross-examination 3 minutes
Second negative constructive 9 minutes
Cross-examination 3 minutes
First negative rebuttal 6 minutes
First affirmative rebuttal 6 minutes
Second negative rebuttal 6 minutes
Second affirmative rebuttal 6 minutes
Each team also has 10 minutes of preparation time to use as they please during the debate, usually before they speak.


| Work is intense preparing for the trip |

Policy debates, as you can see, take a long time. Usually there are 30 to 45 minutes of time between the release of the pairings and the start of the debates. As well, the judge will take 15 to 20 minutes to decide and then have a 15 to 20 minute discussion with the debaters after revealing the decision. This, a full debate will take over 2.5 hours. With four debates in a day, that is a long and tiring process. Yet, people seem to love it and flourish within this tense and trying setting.
This year we are taking four teams on this trip. We did have five but one had to drop out at the last minute because one of the team members did not meet his work and preparation obligations. We have several coaches and alumni who would also be taking the trip to help out.

Our preparation was productive and fun. We worked all day and the students often got together in the evenings to socialize, but some to continue working. We broke up a little early on December 31 so that we all could celebrate.

We were also involved in preparation for the parliamentary tournament in Belgrade. I worked with the students and we had several practice debates. These students are trained policy debaters, and so needed to learn the different style and technique involved in NPDA parliamentary debating. I even debated against them twice to get them ready. It was quite enjoyable.

| Michael Malone. Kayce Massey | Jillian Marty, our President |

| Helen Morgan leads speaking drills |