Topic statement: Corporations should prioritize stakeholder value over shareholder value.

The 2020 Lafayette Debates National Championship and General Lafayette Debates Championship will be held Saturday afternoon, April 4th, at the Embassy of France to the United States in Washington D.C. The top eight teams and the top two military academy teams from the Lafayette Debates at GWU on Friday evening and Saturday morning will qualify to the championships.  

Please plan to attend the championship round and awards reception at the Embassy on Saturday evening beginning at 5:00 pm. Please note that you must have a government issued ID to enter the French Embassy. 

Friday dress is business casual. Saturday dress is business formal.

Friday & Saturday Morning General Assembly & Check in: Funger 103

Check-in on Friday is at 4:30 PM outside of Funger Hall 103.

Check-in on Saturday at 8:00 AM outside of Funger Hall 103.

Funger Hall Address: 2201 G St NW, Washington, DC 20052


Friday Evening - George Washington University

4:30 PM Check-in: Funger Hall Room 103, 2201 G St NW, Washington, DC 20052

5:00 PM Judge Orientation

5:30 PM Round 1

7:00 PM Round 2

Saturday Morning - George Washington University

8:00 AM Check-in: Funger Hall Room 103, 2201 G St NW, Washington, DC 20052  

8:30 AM Round 3 

10:30 AM Round 4 

Saturday Afternoon - Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Rd NW, Washington, DC 20007

1:30 PM Quarterfinals

3:00 PM Semifinals 

5:00 PM Check In for Finals & Awards Reception

5:30 PM Finals 

7:00 PM Awards Ceremony & Reception 


Traditionally there's been no formal judging commitment and we're flexible but we do count on attending coaches to judge during prelims.

For Saturday quarterfinals and beyond judging panels will include international affairs scholars and professionals. The Friday and Saturday morning judging pool (prelims) will include former winners and attending debate coaches.


Tournament meals will include breakfast on Saturday and--for the teams and coaches advancing to quarters--lunch on Saturday at the Embassy. Healthy snacks will be provided throughout the tournament.

Teams will be released for dinner on Friday night and--if they are not advancing to quarters--for lunch on Saturday.

Local Transportation 

For Friday evening and Saturday morning, check in is Funger Hall Room 103, 2201 G St NW, Washington, DC 20052.

In the area of the GWU campus, there are parking garages at 2000 Penn, 950 22nd Street, and 2004 G Street plus street parking. 

For Saturday afternoon, the Embassy address is 4101 Reservoir Rd NW, Washington, DC 20007. Transportation to the Embassy on Saturday will be provided for teams breaking to quarters and to the General Lafayette Championships.

Cars may not enter the Embassy. There is street parking available in the areas surrounding the Embassy.


Fees for the 2020 Championships are $60/person. Please contact us to request a full or partial waiver if fees are a hardship for your program and/or debaters. 


Round are open on Friday and Saturday morning.

If your team wishes to bring guests to the Embassy, contact us at least the week before at If you do not, your guest may be denied entry to the Embassy.


There is not a tournament hotel.  We suggest:

Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport - $87/night - very close and metro accessible to National airport, metro accessible and an easy drive to GWU

Hotel Lombardy - $159/night - essentially on the GWU campus, two blocks from Friday and Saturday rounds

Arc the Hotel - $179/night - essentially on the GWU campus


Debaters are expected to time their own speeches and attend to the order of the speeches. The precise order of the speeches is provided at the end of this handbook. As a general rule the debate will proceed in two stages: (1) Constructives & Cross Examinations and (2) Rebuttal Speeches.

Speech Times:

1st Affirmative Speaker: 6 minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Negative Speaker: 4 minutes

1st Negative Speaker: 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Affirmative Speaker: 4 minutes

2nd Affirmative Speaker: 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Negative Speaker: 4 minutes

2nd Negative Speaker: 6 minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Affirmative speaker: 4 minutes

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Affirmative Rebuttal: 6 minutes

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Negative Rebuttal: 6 minutes

IMPORTANT: Both debaters are expected to give two of the four final rebuttals their team will present over the course of the four preliminary rounds; i.e., one debater on a team should not give all four of the final rebuttals teams will present over the course of the four preliminary rounds.


The round will conclude with two six minute speeches. (There are no cross examinations after these last two speeches.) During these last two speeches debaters are encouraged to explain to judges why the primary arguments they have presented in their earlier speeches are collectively more persuasive than those of their opponents as regards the core question raised by the topic.

Discount new arguments presented in the final two speeches:

Because the opposing team does not have an opportunity to respond it is particularly important that you discount new facts, evidence and explanations presented in the very last speech of the debate that could have been presented earlier in the debate. Debaters should not present new primary arguments for or against the topic in either of the last two speeches. Although they may respond to arguments presented by their opponents, debaters are asked in these last two speeches to assess the arguments that have been presented in the earlier speeches rather than presenting new facts, evidence and explanations that could have been presented earlier in the debate.

Interpreting the topic:

You should interpret the burden the topic places on the Affirmative and Negative teams in a manner consistent with the topic statement. Debaters will sometimes attempt to interpret topics in a manner that “tilts” the playing field to their advantage. This approach should be disfavored. If a question of topic interpretation is not resolved by reference to the topic statement, you should adopt a “centrist” interpretation of the topic that allows both teams to engage the core, predictable question you believe raised by the topic and topic statement’s plain language.

Cross Examination:

Cross examination is an essential element of the debate format chosen for this weekend’s competition. It is also an element that requires debaters to cooperate in good faith with their opponents to some extent, which may be a complicated proposition in a competitive debate.

Cross examination can be an invaluable tool for moving debates “forward” by establishing undisputed facts,  clarifying areas of agreement, isolating areas of dispute, and allowing rigorous examination of opposing arguments. Cross examinations may be far less productive, however, if debaters waste cross examination time so as to avoid having their arguments clarified and scrutinized by answering questions that haven’t been asked, filibustering, and otherwise failing to directly and succinctly answer questions to the extent possible. In such cases, debates may even become hostile as cross examiners may be forced to talk over their opponent to prevent their opponent from dominating the cross examination period.

For these reasons, when determining the winning team and assigning speaker points judges should favor debaters who respond to questions directly and succinctly to the extent possible and disfavor debaters who consistently fail to do so. “To the extent possible” is an essential qualifier to this requirement. Debaters should be allowed reasonable time to answer “open” questions or any other questions that cannot be answered in succinct fashion.

Use of Evidence:

When necessary to resolve an important point of contention, debaters are encouraged to introduce evidence. The introduction of evidence is not required and not all arguments require evidence to resolve. But judges should consider whether the introduction of evidence would have strengthened debaters' key arguments and/or materially assisted in resolving disputed key points when determining which team did the better debating. 

If debaters choose to introduce evidence, they should be prepared to provide a hardcopy to their opponents that includes a complete citation (author, source, date, at minimum) and quotes supporting portions of the source (full paragraphs) such that their opponents might confirm whether the source supports the claim(s) for which it is being offered. Debaters introducing evidence are expected to be able to share this evidence with their opponents quickly and efficiently without materially delaying the debate round; i.e., debaters introducing evidence should take up hardcopies with them while speaking and be ready to hand this evidence to the other team upon request within seconds of finishing their speech.

Providing an electronic copy is disfavored absent advance consent of the opposing team. If a team wishes to provide an electronic copy for this purpose, they should be prepared to loan their opponents a device upon which to review the source for as long as their opponents require.

Judges should penalize the speaker points of debaters who fail to make their evidence available in a quick and efficient manner such that material opponent cross examination time is wasted and should consider voting against teams in particularly close rounds in which one team's failure to produce their evidence promptly results in material loss of the other's cross examination time to collect evidence and/or egregious instances of delaying rounds to organize evidence.

Responsible Advocacy:

All debaters are expected to engage in responsible advocacy. This includes taking responsibility for researching and confirming the claims made in debates. Students that introduce false information--even if by accident and in limited fashion--should be marked down as individual speakers depending on the nature and frequency with which false information has been introduced and this should play a role in assessing which team did the better debating. Any student fabricating evidence or presenting evidence in a manner that distorts its meaning to their advantage should be assigned a loss for the round. Complaints should be lodged after the round with the tournament director and penalties may be assigned retroactively in cases of clear fabrication and/or distortion of evidence.

Equity Statement:

While a judge may not consciously privilege the arguments or positions of particular groups of people over others, studies have shown that decisions nevertheless may be influenced by societal biases or prejudices in regards to, inter alia, race and gender. Daniel Kelley and Erica Roedder (2008) have found implicit bias in a number of settings analogous to debate including job hiring practices, grading, and sports officiating. Deborah Tannen (1998) has shown that in the field of competitive argument men are sometimes presumed to be more reasonable and less emotional and that these presumptions may lead a judge to implicitly give more weight to a man’s argument than a woman’s. We therefore ask each judge to consider their implicit biases in evaluating participants’ arguments and performance before making their decision.

US National Championship