Policy Debate Program Descriptions



Students will be supplied with starter pack evidence and a host of instructors to hone their technical skills throughout camp. With daily practice speeches and the best student to teacher ratio in the country, we can guarantee that each debater will come out of camp ready to take the leap to the next level. But it’s not just practice, our Skills Sessions will develop each student as a researcher as well. Depending on your experience level students can choose between two levels of research intensity. One track will help guide students through the initial nuts and bolts of research and get students ready to navigate databases and vet sources. The other will help students build the content knowledge and background experience to tackle the criminal justice topic based on their own interests and perspectives.

Sophomore Select

The Sophomore Select program is for students making the leap from novice policy debate to junior-varsity or open divisions. The curriculum is designed with the student in mind. Each session will review core concepts to make sure students are on the same page before developing those ideas with examples from the upcoming criminal justice reform topic. Students will also work together to research and write a new affirmative and negative position to build on the starter pack evidence set. At the end of the camp session, the students in the lab will compete against each other in an intra-lab round robin tournament. The goal is for students to leave their time at the UTNIF feeling confident they understand the fundamentals of policy debate and the core controversies within the issues of federal government statutes over forensic science, policing, and sentencing policy.

Most who enroll are participating in a summer institute for the first time and are still adapting to the activity and the expectations of a summer institute. The Sophomore Select lab allows students to experience a summer institute for the first time with students of a similar skill-set and background knowledge so everyone is on even footing. In that way, we can target our examples and instruction to a younger teenage audience with activities to keep students on track and engaged. In three years, when this summer's Sophomore Select students graduate, we want them to reflect back on their high school career's and remember their time with the UTNIF as when they fell in love with policy debate.

The UTNIF's instructors are uniquely prepared to cater to the needs of students that are navigating the transition from novice to more experienced divisions. Dr. Chase and Mr. Beier worked together for several years as graduate teaching assistants at the University of Kansas. As graduate students, they collectively taught over 25 course sections at KU (including several sections online), coached the overall first-ranked policy debate team in the nation and policy debate national champions in 2018, and spent several summers as senior staff members of the Jayhawk Debate Institute. Dr. Chase also directed the JDI for four summers while completing her PhD. She has since become the Assistant Director of Debate at the University of Pittsburgh, where she also teaches Argumentation. Ian is currently the Director of Debate at The College Preparatory School in the Bay Area. As CPS' director, Mr. Beier is responsible for the coaching and supervision of close to one hundred students.

Survivors Supersession

The Six-week Summer Survivor's is the UTNIF's flagship program and is now older in age than new enrollees. It attracts the best and the brightest students, especially those seeking to develop their skillsets deploying both critical and traditional strategies. Many alumni of the program have gone on to attend the University of Texas at Austin. They cite their participation in the rigorous, engaging Survivor's curriculum as foundational to their decision to become a Longhorn. Recent Survivors are currently attending institutions that include UT, Harvard, UPenn, and Wake Forest

The UTNIF Online's Survivors curriculum will allow students to immerse themselves into the feeling of being a part of Texas Debate. It will feature appearances from several active coaches and competitors who will each impart their specific strengths. We will prepare students by breaking down the core issues within the criminal justice reform resolution to develop strategies durable enough to last the entire season. We will also use prepare students to independently research so that when they leave the program they can update, innovate, and create new strategies. Additionally, the length of the program will allow our staff to do targeted skills practice and improve students speaking and in-round decision-making.

Meet the Staff

Brendon Bankey, Curriculum Director

Brendon is the Director of Debate and co-Director of the UTNIF. He currently teaches Argumentation & Advocacy at the University of Texas at Austin as an Assistant Professor of Instruction in Communication Studies. Brendon is excited to bring his experience to his second summer at the UTNIF. He recently coached Texas Debate to its first First Round At-Large Bid to the National Debate Tournament in 16 years. He co-coached the #1 ranked team in the nation and champions of the 2018 National Debate Tournament as a graduate assistant debate coach at the University of Kansas. Brendon received his Master’s Degree and served as a graduate assistant debate coach at Wake Forest University. Throughout his career, Brendon has been actively involved in high school debate. He was an assistant coach at Pace Academy for five years. Some of Pace’s accomplishments during that span include winning the 2015 National Debate Coaches Association Tournament; winning the Glenbrooks, Michigan, and MBA; and receiving the top speaker award at St. Marks. Prior to working for Pace, Brendon spent four seasons working with Whitney Young, which culminated in an elimination debate appearance at the Tournament of Champions. Several of Brendon’s former summer debate workshops have gone on to debate in college at competitive programs throughout the United States. These students have attended schools such as the University of Kansas, Baylor University, Indiana University, Liberty University, and the University of Southern California.

Dr. Allie Chase, Sophomore Select

Dr. Allie Chase is currently the Associate Director of Debate at Greenhill School. Previously, she was the Associate Director of Debate the William Pitt Debating Union at the University of Pittsburgh. She has almost a decade of debate coaching experience, including five years at the University of Kansas where she coached teams to elimination rounds at every national tournament as well as countless regional tournaments. She has coached the Rex Copeland Award recipients, NDT champions, and an NDT top speaker. Allie also has extensive high school coaching experience including coaching NSDA National Tournament and CFL National Tournament champions and TOC finalists. She has directed and instructed at summer debate institutes for the past six years. In addition to the competitive aspects of debate, Allie believes deeply in the transformative potential of argument for personal growth, education, and socio-political change.

Ian Beier, Sophomore Select

Ian is the Director of Debate at College Preparatory School in Oakland and a PhD student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. In 2017, CPS qualified four teams to the TOC and the squad has cleared at the tournament multiple times during his time working with the program. He has been an assistant coach at the University of Kansas for five years. He was formerly Assistant Coach at Damien High School. In 2015, his squad was in finals of the NSDA tournament. Prior to his time at Damien, he was the Assistant Director of Debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

David Kilpatrick, Survivors

David Kilpatrick graduated from University of Texas after debating for 5 years and has been actively involved with debate for over a decade. He currently coaches at Westwood High School and UT. David has coached numerous teams to qualification at the Tournament of Champions. Additionally, he has coached the 2018 Longhorn Classic champions and the 2020 TFA State Champions. This is his 8th UTNIF and he’s thrilled to be leading survivors this year. He absolutely loves debate and hopes to help students meet and exceed their goals for the next season.

Het Desai, Survivors

Het Desai ('24) debates at Texas. His first season in college debate, he cleared at every major regular season national tournament and received multiple top-15 speaker awards. Het is the only first year student to receive a First Round At-Large Bid to the NDT from Texas in over 20 years. Het had an incredibly successful high school career debating for Coppell High School. He was ranked 2nd on the Coach’s Poll; received 12 career bids; won the Glenbrooks, California Round Robin, Longhorn Classic, UT Round Robin, and participated in late out round of national tournaments such as Emory and Cal. This will be Het’s second time working at the UTNIF.

Arnav Kashyap, Survivors

Arnav Kashyap ('25) will be debating at Texas. Arnav debated in policy at Coppell High School for 4 years where he received 7 career bids, was second speaker and top seed at the Tournament of Champions, and received top 10 speaker awards at Harvard, TFA State, Michigan, St Marks, Blake, Cal Round Robin, and Meadows. He championed TFA State and Meadows and reached the late elimination rounds of the ToC, Texas, St. Marks, and Heritage Hall tournaments. Arnav is very excited to be working at the UTNIF this summer!

Nico Juarez, Skills

Nico Juarez has been involved in debate for 10 years now. Seeing teaching and learning as a site for liberation and enlightenment, Nico combines his experience doing competitive debate, his role as an active scholar in the humanities, and pedagogies of care to support students in achieving their personal and educational goals. Nico was a two-time first-round debater at the University of Oklahoma and succeeded in reaching elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament multiple times. As a coach, Nico has experience working with a variety of traditional policy debate and critical debate students from both small and large schools. Outside of debate and academia, Nico enjoys visiting museums and wandering through book stories with coffee in hand. If asked about psychoanalysis, he tends to talk a lot.

Zach Watts, Skills

Zach Watts is senior debater for the University of Texas at Austin. Zach has had an incredible senior year, including placing 3rd at Wake Forest and receiving a First Round At-Large Bid to the National Debate Tournament. Zach is a four-time NDT qualifier. This will be his fourth year working with the UTNIF. Zach also coaches and teaches debate at the high school level. He coaches at Dallas Jesuit and has taught debate at The Griffin School. He looks forward to both deepening his knowledge and literature base for anti-blackness studies and providing assistance for the high school debaters attending the camp.