Rules & Procedures

I. Introduction


The Cabin Fever Debates are designed to give UAA students not actively participating on the traveling, competitive UAA Speech and Debate squad opportunities to develop skills of critical analysis and advocacy.  It is fundamentally an educational, and not a competitive, event.

As it is grounded in human persuasion, debating is inherently a subjective activity.  Determining the winner of academic debating competition ultimately comes down to the preferences of the adjudicators who evaluate the round.  That said, debate operates on a set of common assumptions about format and conduct that should be shared by all who participate in the activity.  Those common assumptions are discussed in the Rules & Procedures section of this document.

II. Rules & Procedures


A.    Eligibility

  1. Any UAA student, enrolled for a minimum of six (6) credits during the semester in which the contest is held, is eligible to enter the contest, subject to the restrictions below.

  2. By entering the contest, participants authorize the tournament organizers to verify their eligibility.

  3. UAA students who have participated in more than one intercollegiate debating tournament as a member of the Seawolf Debate team are not eligible to compete in the Cabin Fever Debates.

  4. Students who have previously competed in the Cabin Fever Debates but have not competed for UAA as a member of the Seawolf Debate team are eligible to compete.

  5. Any individual’s eligibility to enter the tournament is ultimately at the sole discretion of the tournament organizers. 

B.    Pairing & Scheduling

  1. Contestants must participate in the tournament as two-person teams.  Individuals may enter the tournament as teams or enter as individuals and request that the tournament organizers pair them with other individual entrants to form teams.

  2. Teams will be scheduled in rounds with three other teams, two of whom are assigned to advance the motion (the “Proposition”) and two of whom are assigned to oppose the motion (the “Opposition”).

  3. Each team will participate in a minimum of one preliminary round to determine their eligibility for the Semifinal and Final rounds.

  4. If an odd number of teams enters the preliminary phase of the competition, “swing” teams may be used to fill the pairing.  Swing teams are not eligible for the final round and will not receive a rank or rate from the adjudication panel.  Eligible teams in a round in which a swing team participates will be ranked as if the swing team didn’t participate (i.e., if one swing team participates in a round, the remaining teams would be ranked 1st- 3rd; if two swing teams participate in a round, the remaining teams would be ranked 1st-2nd.)

  5. Preliminary round sides, positions and motions will be announced a minimum of one week prior to the scheduled debate.

  6. Each preliminary round and the final round will use a unique motion.  Motions will concern current controversial events and/or timeless philosophical or political issues.

  7. The Semifinal round will be contested by the teams with the highest placing (based on preliminary round team ranking and score) from the preliminary rounds.  The Final Round will be contested by the two winning teams from each Semifinal round.

  8. Failure by either member of a team to attend the preliminary, Semifinal or Final rounds at the time and place scheduled forfeits that team’s eligibility for the Championship.  In the absence of a partner, individuals may opt to participate in the preliminary round but will be ineligible for advancement to the Semifinal or Final rounds.

C.    Adjudication of Debates

  1. Each debate will be judged by an odd-numbered panel of adjudicators, typically three.  The adjudicators will be responsible for considering the arguments and efforts made by each team in the round and determining the outcome of the debate

  2. Each team in the round will be ranked 1st through 4th.  Ties in rank are not permitted.

  3. Each speaker in the debate will receive a score between 1-100.  

  4. A team score will be calculated for each team in the round.  The team score shall be the sum of each individual debater’s speaker score on a particular team.  Team scores will have a range of 1-200.

  5. At the conclusion of each debate, the adjudication panel will confer to discuss the round and to attempt to reach a consensus on the ranking of teams.  Should a consensus be unreachable, the majority opinion of the adjudication panel will prevail.

  6. Each individual adjudicator on the panel will assign speaker scores to each debater and calculate the team score for each team.  This score will be recorded on their individual ballot.  Each speaker’s score will be an average of all adjudicators’ speaker scores for that individual; each team’s score will be the average of all adjudicator’s team scores for that team.

  7. All decisions of the adjudication panel will be final and may not be appealed.

D.    Evaluation of Debates

  1. Debates will be assessed by evaluating the matter and manner of each team in an effort to determine relative rankings of the teams in the debate.

  2. Matter relates to the issues addressed in the debate and the arguments used to advance a position.  Adjudicators should evaluate the relevance of the issues identified by the debaters and the strength of the evidence offered to support the debater’s claims

  3. Manner refers to a debater’s presentation and strategy.  Adjudicators should evaluate the effectiveness of the debater’s organization and structure, their engagement of issues and each debater’s presentation of their arguments. Adjudicators should also evaluate cooperation among team members to advance a consistent and coherent position.

E.    Contest Prizes

  1. Prizes will be awarded to all teams who qualify for the elimination rounds (see Tournament Prizes for more information). All prizes are awarded at the discretion of the tournament organizers.  Recipients must provide all information necessary to secure payment of the prize within two weeks of the Final Round.  Failure to do so will forfeit claim to the prize.

  2. All contestants must be eligible per UAA policies to receive tournament prizes.  Those
    students deemed ineligbile per UAA policies will forfeit their claim to any prize.

  3. Other prizes may be awarded as the tournament organizers deem appropriate.

F.    Free and Open Forum

  1. As a laboratory for developing the skills necessary for engaged citizenry, the activity of debating and this contest fully embrace the ideals of open discussion of all issues and the freedom to advocate for one’s personal convictions.  Moreover, as an academic exercise, the speech of participants entered in this tournament is protected by the provisions of academic freedom.  This freedom and openness carries with it the responsibility to exercise those rights in a way that preserves those opportunities for others and doesn’t seek to exclude from the discourse those with whom an advocate may disagree.

  2. Harassment of participants, behavior designed to intimidate or belittle participants or any conduct that is contrary to the free and open exchange of ideas will not be tolerated.  Any participant who engages in such practices may be expelled from the competition at the sole discretion of the tournament organizers.