How prominent is CRT in competitive college and HS policy debate?
April 20, 2014 10:48 AM   Subscribe

This article claims that (or is framed as) CRT arguments are dominating collegiate debate. Is that really true?

I've been out of policy debate for many years. There has been a large role for critique type arguments for decades; however, the report claims that the nature of policy debate at the college level has changed and is near schism. In your experience has that really happened? Has this trickled down to the HS level policy debate scene?
posted by a robot made out of meat to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
From my understanding, elite national-level HS policy is definitely all about critique these days. Local-level policy scenes may be more traditional, but even that is changing. Traditional policy doesn't garner much respect these days, to the point where state tournaments and NFL nationals aren't as highly regarded as non-NFL tournaments like Tournament of Champions that consciously mimic collegiate debate.

I didn't do college debate, but when I posted this article on Facebook my former teammates who did go on to college debate chimed in immediately in support of Kritik debates.

It's been awhile since I've read if, but you might want to read the book Cross-X by Joe Miller that chronicles how a poor Kansas City CX program learned to compete on the nationals circuit by diving headlong into critiques of traditional debate and the racial and SES inequalities that exist in the discipline.
posted by lilac girl at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2014

When I was competing in Kansas City between 2002-2006, you'd hear about it occasionally and you'd see Kansas City Central doing that style of debate at tournaments occasionally. I also judged at a TOC qualifier in Iowa where they showed up. They had a lot of pushback at the high school level but I think that kind of argument went from something that would easily have lost them the round through some crappy "this is the wrong forum" type argument to being something you had to at least be prepared for. It wasn't mainstream at the time by any means, and when I was still judging in KC I didn't see them around as much.

At the college level, I get the impression that a few programs - Towson in particular - have spent a lot of time really honing the CRT type arguments/performance. College circuit judges have been more receptive of it, I think, and now I think it's a thing that you're going to run into in outrounds, so you'd better be prepared. And, of course, when you're successful you're going to inspire other teams to follow suit.

I wouldn't say everyone is doing it, but I didn't do college policy, so I'm basing this on my friends who did. Maybe someone more involved with it can confirm/deny.
posted by dismas at 11:40 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Arguably, it has been practiced at the high school level for at least 8 years, if I'm remembering the excellent documentary Resolved correctly
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:02 PM on April 20, 2014

Arguably, it has been practiced at the high school level for at least 8 years

That's definitely true. I did HS policy debate in Wisconsin from 2001-2004 and saw plenty of kritiks then. (They were infrequent and always badly executed at local tournaments; much more common and well executed on the circuit.)

I always liked them when they were done well - I think it's useful to discuss the reasons why the game is set up the way it is, and what structures we're implicitly supporting through our participation. What I didn't like was when people used K arguments as an excuse to get super yelly (which debate types tend toward anyway), because justice demands yelling and name-calling, I guess? That article makes it sound like yelling is the order of the day now, which...makes me glad I don't debate anymore.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2014

I did collegiate parliamentary debate in 2001-2003 at a liberal arts college on the west coast, and my school ruled a lot of the tournaments with K arguments. Most of us were white, and I noted with interest at the time that the only other teams I saw running a lot of Kritik were minority-majority teams traveling in from out of the area.

Even then, over a decade ago, there were a lot of people pretty pissed at the upset. I encountered a lot of push back to my fairly mildly non-standard tournament presentation (dreds and stompy boots) and I am not surprised to hear that the schism has grown since.
posted by kitarra at 7:38 PM on April 20, 2014

Kritik was invented my junior year of policy debate at Dartmouth Debate Institute (DDI) in 1992-1993 ish. By senior year we were all still running standard affirmative cases/disads but a few really great teams were beginning to kick ass using critique. To the best of my knowledge it has been a fixture of the elite/national circuit ever since.
posted by baronette at 9:22 PM on April 20, 2014

I think the question is not so much about critique as it is the CRT/narrative style that Towson and runs with, right? Not just cap bad or statism or whatever, which are ubiquitous at this point.
posted by dismas at 11:13 AM on April 21, 2014

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