National Parliamentary Debate Association

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NPDA redirects here, it may also refer to nondeterministic pushdown automata.

The National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) is one of the two national intercollegiate parliamentary debate organizations in the United States. The other is the American Parliamentary Debate Association. The NPDA is a relatively young organization, but it is now the largest college debate organization in the United States. Its membership is national, with participating schools on both coasts and throughout the country.

The Rules of NPDA Debate[edit]

In tournaments sponsored or sanctioned by the NPDA, teams of two persons debate head-to-head. Tournaments issue a new topic each round, generally on issues such as politics, philosophy, and current affairs, and speeches begin after limited preparation time.

Parliamentary debate, which is often shortened as "parli," is a debate format in which tournament officials assign a new topic every round. After the announcement of the topic, the two teams have a limited preparation time, which is 15 minutes plus the time it takes to walk to the furthest away round in which debates will be taking place (usually rounded to 20 minutes), during which to write out their respective cases.

The second important rule is time limits. The standard time limits for an NPDA debate are:

  • First Proposition Speaker: 7 minutes
  • First Opposition Speaker: 8 minutes
  • Second Proposition Speaker: 8 minutes
  • Second Opposition Speaker: 8 minutes
  • Opposition Rebuttal: 4 minutes
  • Proposition Rebuttal: 5 minutes

There are tournaments, however, at which these are modified, generally to a 7-7-7-7-5-5 format. The Claremont Colleges tournament, for instance, uses this 7-5 format. During constructive speeches, debaters may introduce new arguments and the speaker's opponents may rise to ask questions of the speaker. Constructive speakers can accept or reject any given question. Rebuttals are exclusively for summarizing the arguments that were made during constructives.

Over the past few years many coaches and competitors have referred to the official title of speeches with different names. These are unofficial yet very popular with many judges:

  • Prime Minister Constructive
  • Leader of Opposition Constructive
  • Member of Government Constructive
  • Member of Opposition Constructive
  • Leader of Opposition Rebuttal
  • Prime Minister Rebuttal

The third rule of importance is the ban on quoted evidence. Literally, this simply means that the debaters may not bring in printed, published evidence and consult it during the round. It is expected that debaters will use their own preexisting knowledge and research conducted prior to the start of the actual round to back their arguments with reasoning and empirical data.

Once they enter the debating chambers, parliamentary debaters are prohibited from using published materials to supplement their arguments. This places parli in stark contrast to the other common intercollegiate debate format: policy debate. Policy debaters utilize quoted evidence.

Any mature debate circuit will develop its own customs and practices. Some people argue that the NPDA rules are very laissez-faire, preferring to let the norms of what constitutes valid argumentation be subjects for the debate itself. Others believe that, in recent years, the NPDA has been hesitant to allow its participants to engage in controversial, avant garde or "nontraditional" debate practices at its national championship tournament.

The NPDA Championship Tournament[edit]

The NPDA runs one debate tournament each year: the NPDA Championship Tournament, held in late March or early April at rotating host sites. While the inaugural tournament in 1994 only hosted around 40 teams, the 2004 Championship Tournament had over 300 teams in the field from over a half-dozen nations. This tournament's practices are generally modeled by smaller invitational tournaments, which provide the bulk of year-long competition. NPDA sanctions many of these tournaments, and the school that does the best at sanctioned invitationals over the course of the year is awarded a year-long sweepstakes championship.

Relationship to Other Tournaments and Organizations[edit]

There are usually several NPDA-sanctioned invitational tournaments throughout the country to choose from on almost every weekend of the academic year. The largest of these tournaments include the Sunset Cliffs Classic held in February at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, the season-opening Top of the Rockies tournament at the University of Wyoming in September, the Al Johnson Invitational at the Colorado College in October, the Golden Gate Invitational at the University of California, Berkeley in November, and the Hatfield Debates at Willamette University in February.

Communicating Between Tournaments[edit]

Almost from its inception, the NPDA community has taken advantage of the Internet to continue debates (and to debate about debates) between tournaments and in the off-season. For years, this took place via the official electronic mailing list, much to the chagrin of those who saw that resource as best used for official communication such as posting tournament invitations and results.

Today, much of the online debate (especially between competitors) in the NPDA community takes place via the online forum Net-Benefits.net, founded by University of Southern California then-undergraduate Jed Link. The name "Net-Benefits" is a pun, referring to the debate paradigm by which the debate judge weighs the net benefits of two competing policies. The site is now an electronic hub for discourse and information on parliamentary debate.

NPDA National Champions[edit]

Every year since 1994, the organization has held a national championship tournament. Winning teams include:

Year Team School
2014 Josh Rivera & Ben Campbell Southern Illinois University
2013 Josh Rivera & Mike Selck Southern Illinois University
2012 Lauren Knoth & Josh Ramsey Washburn University
2011 Hank Fields & Matt Gander University of Oregon
2010 Brian Horton & Adam Testerman Texas Tech University
2009 Max Alderman & David Pena University of Nevada, Reno
2008 Kristen Owen & Anthony Putnicki Texas Tech University
2007 Tim Kamermayer & Griffith Vertican Point Loma Nazarene University
2006 Josh Anderson & Rachel Safran University of Puget Sound
2005 Paul Bingham & Meredith Price Lewis & Clark College
2004 Ian Samuel & Marie Tenny Truman State University
2003 Michael Owens & Joshua Wilkerson University of Wyoming
2002 Ben Garcia & Chris Richter University of Alaska Anchorage
2001 Danny Barak & Will Trachman University of California, Berkeley
2000 Ryan Kennedy & Jacob Stutzman Truman State University
1999 Geof Brodak & Bill Herman Colorado State University
1998 Heath Curtis & Rebekah Gilbert Concordia University, Seward
1997 Dan Nelson & Marcus Paroske Regis University
1996 Ryan Levy & Scott Ruthfield Rice University
1995 Meredith Marine & Neal Sample University of Wyoming
1994 Marcus Paroske & Tammy Schultz Regis University

Top Speakers[edit]

Year Speaker School
2014 Marten King Whitman College
2013 Miranda Morton Whitman College
2012 Ben Reid McKendree University
2011 Max Alderman University of Nevada, Reno
2010 Will Van Treuren University of Colorado, Boulder
2009 MaryAnn Almeida Willamette University
2008 Kevin Calderwood Southern Illinois University Carbondale
2007 Ryan Lawrence University of California, Berkeley
2006 Joelle Perry Western Kentucky University
2005 Marie Tenney University of South Carolina
2004 Ian Samuel Truman State University
2003 Kyle DeBeer Colorado College
2002 Audrey Mink California State University, Long Beach
2001 Katie Angliss Point Loma Nazarene University
2000 Andrew Vogt Colorado College
1999 Bill Herman Colorado State University
1998 Daniel Nelson Regis University
1997 Marcus Paroske Regis University
1996 Ryan Levy Rice University
1995 Nick Coburn-Palo Weber State University
1994 Andrea Roth University of New Mexico

External links[edit]