FAQ: Time Commitment and the Workload

How much time does it take to participate in debate at UNLV?

The simple answer to this question is "it depends on what you want to get out of debate." The coaching staff is primarily interested in recruiting debaters who are highly motivated to learn, improve, work hard, and win. For those students who want to achieve success at the top levels of NDT/CEDA competition, debate will obviously take up quite a lot of your time. There is room on the team, however, for individuals with varying levels of commitment to debate — as long as you are a team player and fulfill your work expectations, you do not have to give your life over to debate.

How much work is involved if I choose to participate?

As stated above, collegiate debate requires a great deal of work. However, if every member of the squad contributes and does the research that is expected, then no single person or team will be completely overwhelmed by the workload. Aside from traveling to compete at tournaments, there are five core areas of "work" that each member of the squad is expected to do.

  1. Attend and participate in squad meetings.
  2. Assist the team with its regular tournament hosting and other duties.
  3. Turn in research assignments on a regular basis.
  4. Do weekly speaking drills, filing, and file reading/highlighting.
  5. Participate in at least one practice debate and deliver at least one speech rework before each tournament to which a student travels.
Are there "card quotas" or some other work-related requirements for UNLV debate participants?

There are not card quotas per se. We would prefer that you turn in 10 pages of high-quality research, with every card being one that our debaters could stake a round on, rather than turn in 100 pages of mediocre work. We would be even happier, however, if you turn in 100 pages of high-quality research, with every card being one that our debaters could stake a round on. The bottom line is that quality research always trumps a ton of mediocre research. In the end, the best college debaters typically have the best evidence, AND a lot of it. Each member of the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum will typically be given one "update" research assignment and one "major" research assignment at a time. Students are expected to turn in at least one update research assignment every week. Each major research assignment can be much larger and require more time and effort (such as a core topic disadvantage, a critical position, or a new affirmative). Therefore, the due dates for major assignments will be determined on an individual basis by the coaching staff.

How are research assignments determined?

Research assignments are determined and distributed by the coaching staff. If a debater volunteers to take a specific assignment, his or her request will almost universally be honored.

Will I have any commitments to the team other than debate and research?

Members of the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum will spend most of their "squad" time focusing on debate work, such as strategizing, research, writing blocks, and improving their debating skills by participating in practice debate, and delivering redo speeches from tournaments. However, there are a few non-negotiable times that debaters must give their time for other duties. Every member of the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum will assist in hosting our annual high school debate tournament and our annual college debate tournament. Debaters are expected to assist with the Las Vegas Debate League—those duties and opportunities are described in more detail below. Debaters also are expected to assist with occasional press coverage opportunities, public debates, and official alumni development and donor-relations functions.

During the week of our high school and college tournaments, you should be prepared to spend a lot of time assisting the coaching staff with the preparations for these events. The tournaments that we host provide an important service to the high school and collegiate debate communities. In addition, the job that we do hosting these tournaments is a reflection of the work ethic, quality, and commitment of the squad, the coaching staff, and the university. We take pride in hosting two of the highest-quality and most hospitable tournaments in the country. In relation to a four-year college career, or even a college semester, the total amount of time spent by debaters hosting our two annual tournaments and attending the public debate or occasional alumni development event will be incredibly small.