Click each button to see a full description of voting issues.

Vote: Will Choose One Team Policy Debate Option

1) Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its banking, finance, and/or monetary policy.

Ever since the 2008 recession, banking, finance, and monetary policy have been hot topics. While Stoa debaters have been able to debate fiscal and tax policies in the past, this is a completely different side of the money debate. The Federal Reserve, regulations on banks, the stock market, and housing loans, are all areas students will get to explore. Not only will debaters dig deeper into understanding the causes of the 2008 recession, but they will also learn about the Great Depression, the basics of banking and investing, and will study economic concepts like inflation. Cases could range from repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, to winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to auditing the Fed, regulating crypto-currencies, dealing with money laundering, and FDIC reform. Challenging? We think so! But don’t worry: there are plenty of simple and accessible cases too, like eliminating the penny.

2) Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform one or more of the laws administered by the Department of Labor.

Labor is an area ripe for debate. These policies affect every person in the workforce, and are the policies debaters are most likely to interact with after they graduate college. This topic will challenge students to understand both the economic and social implications of employment in the United States. Students will learn a great deal about the history of labor in our country, including the industrial revolution, the political impact of labor unions, and more. Affirmatives will have a wide variety of plan options available, including abolishing the federal minimum wage, abolishing the Davis-Bacon Act, reforming unemployment insurance, dealing with parental leave, changing hiring regulations like credit check bans and removing the “convicted of a felony” box from job applications, collective bargaining reform, relaxing child labor laws, and adjusting standards for migrant workers.

3) Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its policy regarding veterans.

How the federal government treats those who serve our country is of the utmost importance, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is woefully underperforming in this task. This is a pressing and relevant issue, especially in light of continued foreign wars and increasing numbers of veterans. Debaters would be educated on the very real physical, emotional, and financial burdens borne by our nation’s warriors. Plenty of cases could be debated, including allowing lawsuits of VA doctors, VA hospital privatization, increasing military pay, providing healthcare premium support or vouchers, increasing VA accountability and oversight, improving job placement programs, combating homelessness, and addressing overmedication and PTSD.

Vote: Will Choose One Lincoln Douglas Value Debate Option

1) Resolved: Culture ought to value assimilation over multiculturalism.

E Pluribus Unum, the motto of the United States, means “out of many, one.” But one what? Is America a melting pot, where people from all corners of the earth become the American culture? Or, is America one big salad bowl, where each culture adds unique flavor? Never in our history has this question of identity been more important. This resolution will allow debaters to understand and appreciate values gained from various cultures within the American fabric. Students will also understand the importance of a unified American culture. Diversity and multiculturalism will be values explored for their worth. So too will patriotism and unity. This resolution should be less about the sins of racism and ethnocentrism, than about who we are as a people and what it means to be a nation.

2) Resolved: Technological augmentation of humanity in the absence of medical necessity is moral.

Biomedical engineering is an emerging field, full of new ground to discuss and questions to explore. In this topic, debaters will be challenged to think about human enhancement (improvements beyond normal healthy states). Think applications like designer babies, biologically enhanced soldiers, and amplified intelligence. This topic is ripe with philosophical clash, and there is plenty of new research available for review. Biomedical engineering has been a hotly contested issue at the University level and remains on the front lines of research and scholarship.

3) Resolved: Intellectual property is overvalued in the United States.

IP is a fascinating area of debate because even among the ranks of limited government advocates, there is disagreement. Is the protection of intellectual property a justified role of government? And if it is, to what extent should those protections be given? Should intellectual property be treated the same as one’s physical property? On the one hand, protections for new inventions give companies the incentive they need to invest money into research and development. On the other hand, it’s unclear for how long those protections should last, and what types of things should be protected. This topic will challenge debaters to ask whether current IP protections go too far, or if they are appropriate given the nature of intellectual property and its value to society.

Wildcard Options

Oratory Analysis

Event Description: Competitors select a historical or contemporary speech to analyze and present. The original speaker, as well as the place and date of the speech will be given early in the speech to provide the context. Student presentations must include two elements: Presenting part or all of the original speech and analyzing the content and impact of the speech.

Goal: The competitor will seek to move and educate an audience by showing insights into a historical or contemporary speech. This will result in a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the speech, the original speaker, the time period in which he or she lived, and the impacts or effects of the speech.

Value: This is a unique educational event with a proven track record. Students must analyze a great speech, understanding the context, the speaker, and the rhetorical elements that made it great. They also learn the importance of fitting a speech to the audience and culture which surrounds it along with insight into the historical speaker. Ideally, students will transfer this information to their own speech writing, and we will see growth in the quality of the speeches presented in competition in the future.

Poetry Analysis

Description: Speakers will present a recitation and analysis of one or more poetry selection(s) with respect to genre, tone, meaning, context, and/or application. Student presentations must include two elements: recitation of the poem (in entirety or part) and an analysis of the selection(s). If more than one poetry selection is presented, the speaker’s analysis will include a
discussion of the comparative relationship between the selections.

Goal: Speakers will develop a greater understanding and appreciation of poetry. They will learn to effectively analyze as well as identify poetic language and unique elements within poetry.

Value: Poetry provides for a more creative and expressive vocabulary, using symbolism and syntax to encourage a greater understanding of language. Poetry teaches meter, rhyme, alliteration, symbolism, hyperbole, and more. Ideally, competitors will transfer these rhetorical devices to their own speech writing, and we will see growth in the quality of the speeches presented in future competition.



Replace Humorous Interpretation (HI) and Dramatic Interpretation (DI) with a single new event called Solo Interpretation.

Solo Interp is a 10-minute event from a single piece of published literature performed by a single competitor. Stoa members have requested an interp event that allows a wider variety of literary work. Solo Interp will offer this by combining the best aspects of both HI and DI into a single event while opening up even more interpretative opportunities for competitors.

If approved:

  • Solo Interpretation will run for a two-year trial during competition seasons 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
  • Following the two-year trial, Stoa members will vote on the membership ballot of Spring 2021 to either make Solo Interpretation a Stoa permanent event or reinstate HI and DI as regular Stoa events. The Stoa Board of Directors and the Speech Committee support this initiative and believe it will be a positive and creative change for Stoa members.


1. Emphasis on the Story: Event emphasis will shift from the emotion to the content. Like in Monologue and Duo, Solo Interp will contain light-hearted stories, serious stories, and many that combine a variety of emotions. Competitors will be inspired to focus more on the story rather than extreme emotion. Judges will evaluate which competitors best bring their stories to life.

2. Character Development: Students will be rewarded for realistic character portrayals. Judges will focus on who best understood and interpreted their characters and who told a compelling story. Interps have the potential to teach students about human nature. Developing believable character requires understanding a character’s backstory, motivations, and worldview. This shift in focus would bring quality literature and quality characterization to the forefront of these events.

3. Wider Variety of Material: Solo Interp allows for previous HI and DI pieces to be used while also opening the door for many new selections. This boosts creativity and encourages students to bring new literature to life and to select stories worth telling. Judges will shift their paradigm as originality, creativity, and message are rewarded.

Reasons for Change:
HI and DI participation has remained low for years. A primary reason for this is the forced focus on emotion in these two events. The event names have become synonymous with excessive laughing and crying, which is driving student choices and judge evaluation. Real stories mirror real life and are not exclusively happy or sad; rather, they offer a wide range of emotions. Many excellent pieces of literature are currently being overlooked because they do not clearly align with the event names of “humorous” or “dramatic.” Rather than forcing a piece to fit into HI or DI, Solo Interp will allow students to choose from a wider variety of literature and be true to the author’s intent. Solo Interp would increase student participation, refocus judge evaluation, and incentivize competitors to choose quality literature.

A YES vote on this initiative will replace Humorous Interpretation (HI) and Dramatic Interpretation (DI) with a single new event called Solo Interpretation for two seasons – 2019-20 and 2020-21. Members will vote in Spring 2021 whether or not to make this a permanent change.

The vote opens April 15th and closes April 30th

Click here to vote

Your first step is connecting with a local Stoa club. We can help.

Click Here To Connect