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.

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.

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.