This year's Topic: The United States federal government should enact substantial criminal justice reform in one or more of the following areas: policing, forensic science and/or sentencing.

Interested in joining Debate?
Contact Dr. McFarland or Mr. Lingel



The foundation of the Jesuit Forensics team is cross-examination debate or policy debate. Academic debate focuses on a specific proposition of policy that is chosen by all the schools that participate in debate and speech. A proposition of policy is a statement that asserts that an agent of change should or ought to take a specific action on a particular issue. The proposition creates the focus of controversy and divides the ground between the affirmative and negative sides. The affirmative side supports the proposition by illustrating an example that proves the resolution. The affirmative has the burden to illustrate that the present system is not addressing a problem, that the problem is significant and harmful, and that their specific change would solve the problem. The negative side attempts to disprove the resolution by illustrating the effectiveness of the current approach, denying the affirmative harm, and/or the undesirability of the affirmative change. In addition to the two person teams, the third actor in a debate is the judge(s). The judge decides which team wins debate and awards each participant speaker points based on their individual performance.

The format for a debate is four constructive speeches (8 minutes) each of which is followed by a cross-examination period (3 minutes). Each participant then has a rebuttal speech (5 minute). The speech order is modeled after the judicial system so the affirmative speaks first and last, while the negative has a block of back-to back speeches in the middle.