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Bakersfield College

Silhouette of Gandhi leading people against a rising sun with doves.

2019 Gandhi Legacy Debate Tournament

Date and Time

Saturday, November 9, 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Letter to Colleagues, Students, and Faculty

Dear Communication Studies Colleagues, Students, and Faculty,

Bakersfield College Department of Communication is proud to offer an intramural debate tournament that affords students an opportunity to practice and apply methods and skills studied in courses, such as: public speaking, persuasion, small group, intercultural communication & argumentation.

The tournament is designed to provide positive speaking experiences and encouraging feedback for students who want to showcase their work, further practice their development as competent communicators, or simply share a message with a captive audience.

Entrants are not required to have prior public speaking or Forensics experience. All students will speak at least twice in Solo Lincoln-Douglas Debate.

The topic discussed at the tournament will align with Bakersfield College's 150th birthday celebration of Gandhi.

Resolution: Violence is a justified response to political oppression in the United States.

The tournament is an excellent opportunity for extra credit and tournament administrators will happily provide instructors with proof of participation for student competitors, volunteers and respectful audience members. Additionally, the Bakersfield Department of Communication department has generously sponsored an award of $500 for the first-place speaker in the tournament.

We invite you and your students to join us as we build upon and celebrate the hard work you invest in the classroom each semester. Below you will find information about the events offered, how to enter, directions to event and the tournament schedule.


Chris Cruz-Boone, MA EdD
Department of Communication
Bakersfield Community College
Arvin Early College Faculty
(661) 204-8643

Preparing to Debate

This section is a short overview for those not currently enrolled in classes where formalized debate is taught about how to create a debate case.

Construction speeches are the opening arguments of a debate and often called "cases." Students are encouraged to utilize their cases/notes while speaking to keep them organized. Each presenter should write a case position for both the AFFIRMATIVE or in support or resolution, and NEGATIVE which can both attack the supporting position and/or offer a counter narrative.

See easy-to-follow template organizing ideas (PDF).

It is strongly encouraged for participants to bring in outside sources with cited credentials to support their ideas. The last page of this document has recommended sources and readings that provide arguments for both sides of topic and an overview of the issue. It is notable that the theme of the tournament is Gandhi’s Legacy and quotations from Gandhi are strongly encouraged.

Lincoln-Douglas debate topic for Bakersfield College Tournament: "Resolved: Violence is a justified response to political oppression in the United States of America."

The Lincoln-Douglas debate is a one-on-one debate between 2 students.

Competitors will not know whether they will affirm or negate until listings are posted immediately before the round and all speakers will be assigned both sides during the tournament. Cases written for the debates should be limited to general reading about the topic and the issues involved.

The structure of the Lincoln-Douglas debates is as follows:

  • AC - 4 minutes - The affirmative constructive presents a full argument for the resolution
  • CX - 2 minutes - The negative asks and the affirmative answers questions in this cross examination
  • NC - 4 minutes - The negative constructive speech argues why the affirmative advocacy should be rejected
  • CX - 2 minutes - The affirmative asks and the negative answers questions in this cross-examination
  • AR - 2 minutes - The affirmative extends the AC arguments and answers the NC arguments
  • NR - 2 minutes - The negative extends the NC arguments and answers the AR arguments

For those unfamiliar with the Lincoln Douglas debate, see the Lincoln Douglas Debate Overview (PDF).

Judge and or a panel of judges and a timer will be in each round. Each round will be judged and students will receive copies of the reason for decision at the awards ceremony.

Debate Intramural Tournament Schedule

7:45 a.m.: Registration (student sign-in)

All students should check-in no later than 8am. Postings for the first round of events will be available at 8:15 am in the Delano Science and Technology hallway. Check for your name and head to the assigned room.

8:00 a.m.: Speaker Warm-Up Activities & Audience Reminders

8:20 a.m.: Round One

The round will last about an hour. You will deliver your speech and serve as a good audience member for other speakers.

9:45 a.m.: Round Two

Postings for the second round of events should be available by 9:40 am in the Delano Science and Technology hallway. You will repeat what you did in round one. It will then take some time to calculate who will advance, but postings of Competitors advancing to finals should be up at 11:45 a.m.

11-12:00 p.m.: Lunch Break (optional semi-final round)

12:30 p.m.: Final Round

2:30 p.m.: Awards Ceremony & Guest Speaker

The showcase and ceremony, including the distribution of awards should take about an hour.

Note: Schedule is tentative and subject to change based on availability of adequate volunteers.

Directions to Tournament

Bakersfield College Delano, 1450 Timmons Ave, Delano, CA 93215

The event will take place at the Bakersfield College Delano campus located 35 minutes north of Bakersfield, off of the 99 freeway. Sign-in table and event posting will take place in Science and Technology Center. The campus neighbors Robert F Kennedy High School but is a small turn off. If you get to the Kern Prison at Timmons, you have gone too far and missed your turn.

Parking at the event will be FREE.

Look for balloons as reminder of unprotected turns.

If you need transportation, please indicate as such on your form. If there is sufficient need, then Bakersfield College will provide transportation to this event.


To participate in the event, you must be a currently enrolled Bakersfield College student. To receive extra credit for participating or attending, you must register by November 1, 2019.

Register for Gandhi Debate Tournament

Registration requires you answer 7 questions:

  • Name of the competitor
  • Instructor’s Name (if applicable)
  • Name of Communication Course Enrolled In (if applicable)
  • Email address
  • Cell number
  • Volunteer or Compete in Debate

Note: There is zero cost to students to register for this event. However, should a student choose to withdraw the organizers respectfully request you revisit your entry and remove yourself.

Background and Framing for Debate

Resolved: Violence is a justified response to political oppression in the United States of America.

Watch a video example of LD Debate on Violent vs. Non-violent Protest.

Note: This video includes longer speech times than our tournament.

Overview of Topic

This topic addresses a question that has a rich philosophical background and plenty of contemporary applications, and the breadth of the topic allows debaters to take cases in a variety of different directions. There are a couple of key framing questions that debaters should keep in mind when constructing their cases. The first area to consider in the topic is the difference between violent revolution and non-violent resistance, and what different forms of each may look like. What is the different between revolution and resistance? Is resistance of any type always revolutionary? Debaters can further explore the difference between civil disobedience and revolutionary disobedience, as literature suggests revolutionary acts of resistance do not presuppose a general obedience to the system.

Debaters can also delve into the question of violence on the topic. What constitutes violence? Is there an all-encompassing rule against it, or can it be warranted by how effectively it deters oppression? Can a response to oppression ever be violent? These questions get especially interesting considering the literature that challenges justifications of violence in the context of oppressive structures or actions. There are arguments to be made about how violence can only be committed against other humans, not property or institutions. Another consideration that comes into play is the intentionality of the violence. Does it matter if violence is planned by the ones resisting, and what changes if violence comes about incidentally or is initiated by those in power?

Debaters must also consider the scope and classification of political oppression, as this will set the context of the debate. Generally, political oppression is the exclusion or persecution of a group of people by governmental or legal structures, implicating the state as a subtle or explicit supporter of the oppression being discussed. Debaters can explore literature that makes distinctions between "political" oppression, and how it overlaps with forms of "civil", "social", or "legal" oppression. Defining political oppression broadly will favor the affirmative, combined with a definition of "just" based on reciprocity, or a description that justifies an equal response. With this approach, affirmative debaters can establish a greater advantage by emphasizing the intensity, urgency, or devastation of political oppression.

Affirmative Arguments

Here are some arguments that the affirmative can begin with. First, the affirmative can delve into arguments about how political oppression undermines the social contract, in which case citizens have no obligation for civil response. Violence then becomes the only effective way to remove constraints imposed by the state. Second, the affirmative can make use of historical examples that demonstrate violent revolution as a just response. The American and French revolutions are perhaps the most famous examples of explicit violent revolution leading to the upheaval of an oppressive order. The affirmative should emphasis cases where the intensity of political oppression is so urgent, extensive, or devastating, that any alternative to violence will not be effective.

Negative Arguments

The negative can take a similar approach, questioning the role of violence in resistance and demonstrating that change is possible without it. Nonviolent revolutions have known to be successful largely because of the masses that are moved to join, and the external support received from third-parties such as international protection or the military. Of course, one of the most simplistic reasons that violent revolution cannot be a just response is because of the collateral death and injuries that may be associated with it. Not only does violent revolution become counterproductive, but also ineffective as it justifies more violence from the state. Negative debaters can also use current examples to justify their side. Contemporary revolutions point in the direction of nonviolence as key to success. The ongoing peaceful demonstrations in 2018-19 in Sudan successfully removed President Omar al-Bashir from power, sparking international concern and prompting a military coup. The 2019 Smile Revolution in Algeria, peaceful protests beginning in February, also led to a military removal of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Background Readings

  • Farbstein 14 (Susan H. " Reflections on the Question of When, If Ever, Violence is Justified in Struggles for Social or Political Change." Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 27, no. 1, 2014.)
  • Lyons 98 (David. "Moral Judgment, Historical Reality, and Civil Disobedience." Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 27. no 1, 1998)
  • Gurr 73 (Ted Robert. "The Revolution. Social-Change Nexus: Some Old Theories and New Hypotheses." Comparative Politics, vol. 5, no. 3, 1973, pp. 359–392.

Affirmative Articles

  • Kahn 1994 (Ali "Lessons from Malcom X: Freedom by Any Means Necessary." Howard Law Journal, vol. 38, no. 79, 1994)
  • Sebastian 15 (Simone. "Don’t criticize Black Lives Matter for provoking violence. The civil rights movement did, too." Washington Post. Oct 1, 2015.)

Negative Articles

  • Stephan and Chenoweth 08 (Maria J, Erica. "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict." The Columbia Press, vol. 33, no. 1, 2008. pp. 7-44.)
  • Nagler 2014 (Michael. "Introduction to Nonviolence" The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action. pp. 1-12, 2014.)
  • Sabl 01 (Andrew. "Looking Forward to Justice: Rawlsian Civil Disobedience and its Non‐Rawlsian Lessons." Journal of Political Philosophy, vol 9, no 3. pp 307-330.)
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