The Infamous Harvard vs. New York Prisoners Debate

debate graphicI know you have heard about it on the television networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC). You may have even heard about it on NPR of all places!

Yes, I am talking about the debate between a group of Harvard students and a group of prisoners from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility in Napanoch, New York.

This event was tailor-made for a great news story in the mainstream media as it sensationalizes one of our democracy’s most esteemed institutions: public debate. This is not surprising in the run up to a presidential election where words like “loser”, “stupid”, and “big boy pants” are thrown out into the public sphere by the current candidates.

I must confess up front that I have been a policy debater, coach, judge, and teacher at the high school, university, and graduate school levels. I have written about these experiences in previous posts: A. Craig Baird Debate Forum: Going Home For The NDT and In “Debate Mode” . I have also coached parliamentary debate in Singapore and help coach the HBU mock trial team. I teach a class in Argumentation and Advocacy here at HBU as well.

Because I have been hearing about this debate event nonstop, I really just want to set the record straight. Continue reading

In “Debate Mode”

NDT 2015

Announcement of 7th Round Pairings at the 2015 National Debate Tournament

OK. I am officially in “debate mode”.

I last wrote about being a member of the A. Craig Baird Debate Forum at the University of Iowa and getting ready to travel to the 69th Annual National Debate Tournament (NDT) that was being held there for the first time.

I have also just finished judging at the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA) regional qualifier here in Texas. Additionally, my students are getting ready to start their own Lincoln Douglas debates in the final weeks of my “Argumentation and Advocacy” class.


Yes, it is that time of year…when the debate community really gets into high gear. Continue reading

A. Craig Baird Debate Forum: Going Home for the NDT

A. Craig Baird Debate ForumAs a member of the Department of Law and Society here at HBU, I teach a course on “Argumentation and Advocacy”.  I have been putting my students through their paces with weekly assignments and presentations on argumentation strategies this semester.  They will also have to debate each other at the end of the class.  They are a little nervous.  However…there is a select group of university students preparing for the debate of their lifetimes this week.  How do I know?

As an undergraduate student I was a policy debater at Washburn University in Kansas and I competed at the National Debate Tournament (NDT). While a graduate student at the University of Iowa, I was also a member of the A. Craig Baird Debate Forum.  I assisted the Iowa team with coaching and judging.  I also participated in public debates for the on-campus community.

Now I am going home (so to speak)… to the NDT… at Iowa. I am representing HBU as an alumna of the forum.  Yes, just so you know, I will take my stuffed Husky for a “selfie”. Continue reading

Boston Strong

Call me Miss Superlucky.  My best friend from high school, who is a super intellectual property lawyer in Boston, invited Christopher and me to visit her this summer in beautiful Brookline, Massachusetts, a stone’s throw from Boston, one of my favorite cities in the world.  Cindy and I were not only classmates, but great friends and debate partners at Klein Forest High School, and so it is completely unsurprising to me that she became the kind of lawyer that you would want to have if you needed one.  Her husband, Dave, ran the Boston marathon this year, as he does every year, and was safely home when the bombings started.   It was an excruciating time for the city, and yet since I have been here, I feel completely and utterly safe.  Bostonians have been unfailingly polite and helpful, and Christopher and I agree that Boston has the kind of fortitude that is a comfort.  They really are “Boston Strong,” and we see shirts everywhere we go reminding us of this undeniable fact.


The Old State House

When you consider the history of Boston, which is really the history of America, you cannot help but catch a serious case of patriotism.   Christopher, who is almost 12, in the midst of his own personal revolution from childhood to adolescence, could hardly contain his excitement as we boarded our direct flight from Houston to Boston on July 11th.  This in itself is a miraculous example of freedom to me:  that we can get on a plane and be in Boston in about three hours.  We can leave the southwest and be in the northeast in no time at all. Continue reading