Social Justice Debates
Eastern Championship
The George Washington University
November 17-18, 2018

The 2018 Social Justice Debates Eastern Championship will be held at The George Washington University on Saturday and Sunday, November 17-18, 2018. Click here to register.

On Saturday morning, judges, coaches and competitors should report for check-in at 9:00 am to Duques Hall, Room 151, 2201 G St NW, Washington, DC 20052. On Sunday, please report at 9:00 am to the Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 212, 1957 E St NW, Washington, DC 20052. 


The GWU Social Justice Debates aspire to serve as a site of student development, scholarship, and publication on social justice topics. On Saturday students will present and refine their research, arguments, and presentations in preliminary rounds judged by debate alumni and coaches. On Sunday the top four teams from preliminary rounds will orally publish their research and arguments to multidisciplinary panels of stakeholders in semifinal and championship debates to decide the 2018 Social Justice Debates Eastern Championship. In the process participating students will have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing discussions of social justice topics across the disciplines while developing themselves as scholars, citizens and professionals.   


University speech regulations designed to protect racial minorities advance the cause of racial oppression. 

Topic Statement

Why would you entrust authority with enlarged powers of regulating the speech of unpopular minorities unless you were confident that unpopular minorities would be racists, not blacks?

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., War of Words: Critical Race Theory and the First Amendment, 1996 

For the 2018-19 Social Justice Debates Selected Scholar, the Walter E. Massey Leadership Center at Morehouse College has supported Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, and his scholarship on hate speech including his book chapter, ""War of Words: Critical Race Theory and the First Amendment."

In War of Words, Professor Gates suggests speech regulations designed to protect minorities are destined to be used against them. In doing so, Professor Gates quotes critical race theorist Charles Lawrence for the proposition that “by framing the debate as we have—as one in which the liberty of free speech is in conflict with the elimination of racism—we have advanced the cause of racial oppression and placed the bigot on the moral high ground, fanning the rising flames of racism.”

During the 2018 Social Justice Debates at The George Washington University teams assigned to the affirmative side of the topic will defend the proposition that university speech regulations designed to protect minorities are, on balance, detrimental to minorities. Negative teams will have the burden of rebutting this contention. 

Judges: Finals & Semifinals

April Callen is the Strategy & Outreach Associate at the Frameworks Institute, a nonprofit organization aspiring to advance the nonprofit sector's communication capacity by identifying, translating, and modifying relevant scholarly research to frame public discourse on social problems.  A communications strategist and cultural critic, April helps nonprofits incorporate an understanding of economic, gender, and racial inequity into their work. Prior to joining FrameWorks, April was the manager of communications at Chicago Foundation for Women, where she provided strategic vision on all major communications outputs, including publications, web materials, and social media. In Chicago, April was also a frequent on-air contributor to Vocalo, a next-generation radio station blending music, news, commentary, and culture. She holds a Master in media, culture, and society from DePaul University. 

Danielle Apugo is an Assistant Professor of Urban Education at the University of the District of Columbia whose areas of expertise include identifying and investigating the visible barriers that exist in the professional and academic experiences of Black Women within educational organizations, generational public education experiences, peer relationships, optimal and suboptimal sustainability strategies, space making, identity affirmation, and racial vigilance. Danielle has a PhD in Urban Education with a specialization in Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Leadership from the University of Wisconsin.

Derek Malone-France is a GWU Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy whose areas of expertise include the political and social philosophy of liberalism and dissent. Derek’s publications include Political Dissent—A Global Reader Vols. 1 and 2 and Faith, Fallibility and the Virtue of Anxiety: An Essay in Religion and Political Liberalism. As the former Executive Director of the GWU Writing Program, he has moderated debates and public dialogues involving Bay Buchanan, Howard Dean, Ezra Klein, Newt Gingrich, Cornell West and others. Derek has a PhD in Philosophy of Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and the manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Previously, as manager of the think tank’s Civil Justice Reform Initiative, von Spakovsky studied how plaintiffs’ attorneys and activists attempt to manipulate the courts for their own ends -- at the expense of the public. A 1984 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law, his analysis and commentary have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The Hill and USA Today, and he has has testified before state and congressional committees and made presentations to, among other organizations, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the Federalist Society, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Legislative Exchange Council. 

Jordan S. West is the Inaugural GWU Director of Diversity & Inclusion Education responsible for creating and implementing educational opportunities that promote a positive and just campus climate. Prior to joining GW, Jordan was the Inaugural Senior Diversity & Inclusion Training Specialist at Princeton University. In addition to her work at GW, Jordan serves as a consultant to institutions of higher education to develop and facilitate pedagogy that engages students, faculty, staff, and senior administrators in meaningful, critical, and urgent conversations about identity, systems of power, privilege, and oppression, and our individual and collective roles in taking action to disrupt inequitable structures.

Julian Dotson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the District of Columbia Urban Debate league. Founded in 2002, the DC Urban Debate hosts the Metropolitan Speech and Debate tournament Series. A dedicated proponent for social justice in education, Julian is also the head debate coach at the Emerson Preparatory School and has organized or directed urban debate programs at numerous DC public and private schools including the Ceser Chavez Charter Schools for Public Policy, West Potomac High School, Dunbar Senior High School, and the All-City team, "University Pro." He has paneled discussions on issues such as whistleblowing, grass roots organizing, civic apathy, and government and history education at Ralph Nader's Breaking Through Power conference sponsored by the Center for Study of Responsive Law. Julian has a B.A from Tuskegee University and is a National Writing Project Fellow.  

Matthew Feeney is the director of Cato’s Project on Emerging Technologies, where he works on issues concerning the intersection of new technologies and civil liberties. Before coming to Cato, Matthew worked at Reason magazine as assistant editor of He has also worked at The American Conservative, the Liberal Democrats, and the Institute of Economic Affairs. His writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostHuffPost,The Hill, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington ExaminerCity A.M., and others. Matthew received both his B.A and M.A in philosophy from the University of Reading.

Michael R. Wenger is a Senior Fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the nation's pre-eminent research and public policy analysis institution focusing on issues of race.  From September, 1997 to October, 1998, Mr. Wenger served as the Deputy Director for Outreach and Program Development for President Clinton's Initiative on Race seeking to promote a more just, inclusive and unified America that offers opportunity and fairness for all Americans. Michael serves on the Washington DC City Council Policy Advisory Council and on the Board of Directors for the League of Black Women. He is a frequent speaker and author of numerous articles on race relations.


The terms of debate described in the Judges Handbook are incorporated by reference.

Students will compete in teams of two or three debaters each. Teams will be assigned to affirm or negate the topic.

On teams of two, each speaker will give one 6 minute speech, be cross examined for 4 minutes, and cross examine an opposing debater for 4 minutes. In addition one speaker on each team will also give a 6 minute closing rebuttal. Over the course of the four preliminary rounds, each speaker on teams of two must give two closing rebuttals for their team and their partner must give two closing rebuttals for their team. 

On teams of three, during rounds each debater must give one six minute speech and either be cross examined for four minutes or conduct a four minute cross examination. (One debater on a team of three will give a six minute speech and both conduct a cross examination and be cross examined. The other two will give a six minute speech and either conduct a cross examination and be cross examined.)


1st Affirmative 6 Minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Negative 4 minutes

1st Negative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Affirmative 4 minutes

2nd Affirmative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Negative 4 minutes

2nd Negative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Affirmative 4 minutes

2 minutes of preparation time

Affirmative Rebuttal 6 minutes

2 minutes of preparation time

Negative Rebuttal 6 minutes

*For teams of three, the third and last affirmative speaker (instead of the second) should conduct the cross examination of the 2nd Negative speaker. And the third and last negative speaker (instead of the second) should conduct the cross examination of the 1st affirmative speaker.


9:00 Check in

10:00 Round 1

11:30 Round 2

1:00 Lunch

2:30 Round 3

4:00 Round 4

6:00 Quarterfinals 


9:00 am Semifinals

11:00 Eastern Championship


Everyone is asked to attend the championship round and awards reception at 11:00 on Sunday.

Saturday breakfast and lunch is provided for debaters, coaches, judges and observers. (“Observers” refers to alumni, parents, children of participating coaches, etc. invited to watch rounds. Observers are free but please give us a heads up so we can make arrangements.) Sunday breakfast is provided for semifinalists, their coaches, judges and observers.

Dress on Sunday is business casual. If possible, please avoid blue jeans, sneakers or t shirts if you are debating on Sunday before panels.


Fees for schools wishing for students to have eligibility to compete on Sunday are $50/person.

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