Monash Association of Debaters

Mary Nugent


 Welcome to volume 11 of the Monash Debating Review! After months of reviewing, writing and editing we are pleased to bring you a collection of articles that we think offer interesting and important perspectives on the activity of debating.

The articles vary greatly in the perspective, scope and method – from a statistical analysis of over 35,000 speaker scores, to an ethnographic discussion based on experiences in Cameroon, and with many things in between. However, they all offer important reflection on the activity, offering insight about how we engage in debating, and asking vital questions about what broader aims we should be striving towards.

Perhaps in light of events and discussion in the debating community over the past year, there is a special emphasis in our first set of the articles on biases, gender, and discrimination. These articles pose incredibly important questions for us all to be considering, and thus I hope the contents of this issue are widely read, shared, discussed and acted upon. In pointing to a significant and consistent gender gap in speaker scores, widespread experiences of language and racial discrimination, insight into the gendered dynamics of our activity, and evidence of geographical biases in adjudications, these articles all offer pause for thought for anyone with even a passing interest in the activity of competitive debate. I am very hopeful that they will serve to constructively further the discussions in our community surrounding these difficult and important questions.

In a similar vein, we have a collection of articles that attempt to better understand and articulate the challenges that are facing many debaters around the world as the global community grows, and people try – and sometimes struggle – to join. With discussion of experiences from South Africa, Cameroon, China and Australia we hear an illuminating range of perspective. We hope they will serve to offer greater understanding of the challenges facing some of our newer debating friends, but also demonstrate the incredible advantages that a truly global and richly varied community offers.

Finally, we have three articles that offer discussion of reform to the format of the activity. We have an exchange over the question of ‘Information Slides’ – do they create the type of debates we should be aiming for? Finally, we see another call to critical re-evaluation, with the bold proposal that speaker tabs should be abolished.

I hope reading this volume is as enjoyable as editing it has been. In particular it has been such a pleasure thanks to my fellow Editors; it was a privilege to work with such intelligent and generous people, and they were heroic in tolerating my endless emails and spreadsheets.

Best Wishes,

Mary Nugent