To some debate appears complex and intimidating. This is not really true, especially for CCNW style debate which rests upon a few fundamental concepts. The following is provided to help those new to debate understand these key concepts so that they are more confident as they begin their journey into the world of debate. Once you have acquired a helpful familiarity, and hopefully a higher level of confidence with the basics of CCNW debate, we hope you will join us either as a participating debate family or as a supporting community judge.
One of fastest and easiest ways to begin to understand team policy debate as practiced by CCNW is to watch our on-line judge orientation. This orientation is presented in Flash Player format and runs about thirty minutes. For judges, and debaters, the most important part is the first 10 minutes or so discussing the Stock Issues, the debate decision criteria. The remainder of the orientation covers more details that are not as important for the judge, but are very important for the debaters.
Once you have a feel for our style of debate, you may find watching a sample debate round interesting and instructive. The sample round available at the link above is a Salem Debate Club practice round from several years ago. This round was chosen as representative of "typical" CCNW debates. It was held for the purpose of helping beginning debaters see first hand the debating skills we wanted them to develop. After the round the club conducted a discussion session to analyze the round to bring out what was well done, what could have been done better, and how a judge should analyze the round in preparation for filling out a ballot.
CCNW debate is built on focussing on fundamentals. Our strict adherence to a simple, straightforward decision criteria (the Stock Issues), allows both debaters and judges to understand the debate round from the same perspective. This perspective states that for a policy change to be desirable (for the Affirmative Team to win) there should be three clear elements present. If any element is missing a change is not desirable (and the Negative Team should win).
After each debate round the judge renders his decision on the standard CCNW ballot. On the ballot the judge indicates the team that won the debate using the Stock Issue criteria, explains why he voted the way he did on each Stock Issue, and then scores each debater's speaking performance. The ballots provide excellent guidance to the debaters on strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve in future debates.