Public Forum Debate

Click here to sign-up for an UTNIF 2019 program today!


Session 1 | June 30th – July 12th, 2019

Session 2 | July 19th – July 31st, 2019

Residential tuition is $2,000 (includes dorm stay & all meals); Commuter tuition is $1,765 (must live <35 mi. from UT)

The only difference between the two sessions are the dates – a camper should attend either Session 1 or 2, but not typically both.

WOW! Our UTNIF PF graduates have been busy! UTNIF Public Forum campers went on to win top speaker awards and/or to earn bids to the Tournament of Champions at competitions across the country, including: Grapevine HS (TX), Ridge (NJ) Princeton (NJ) Scarsdale (NJ) Villiger – St. Joseph’s (PA) Bellaire (TX) Myers Park (NC) Hockaday (TX) Glenbrooks (IL) Katy Taylor (TX) Apple Valley (MN) Winston Churchill (TX)

Our approach to Public Forum at the UTNIF

UTNIF Public Forum workshops are designed for students of all skill levels and they will be placed into the appropriate instructional group at the discretion of the curriculum director at the start of the program. Less experienced students will be introduced to the foundations of argument construction, presentation and speaking, tournament preparation, and in round strategy.  Students with more experience will finely hone debating skills and work with the unique structure of the PF activity to develop strategic approaches to victory. All students will give many practice speeches, have practice debates, rebuttal re-dos, and do stop/start skills drills. All students will participate in experience-appropriate discussions and background seminars on rotating PF topics. The goal is to train students to seamlessly incorporate sound argument and persuasion skills into competition rounds. Students will learn to how to incorporate evidence into their speeches without becoming dependent upon it. All students will receive a world class experience and education, with the skills, confidence and preparation necessary to succeed in Public Forum debate during the regular season.

Testimonials from former UTNIF campers

“UTNIF was the first debate camp I went to so I felt intimidated being in a sea of new faces in an activity I was unfamiliar with. By the end of camp, I was good friends with all of the students and lab leaders I met there and I still keep in touch with many of them even three years after the camp. In addition to the friends and connections I made, UTNIF prepared me extremely well for the debate circuit the next year. The camp really felt individualized – I had ample time to work personally with the lab leaders who are some of the best at any camp in the nation. UTNIF helped to lay the foundation for my next three years of debate by teaching me both the fundamentals of how Public Forum works and exposing me to a myriad of different types of arguments.”

- Caden Day (UTNIF 2016)

“UTNIF was an incredibly enriching and educational experience. Through amazing teaching, great coaches, and quality material, the camp taught me to hone my skills in debate and accomplish things I thought weren’t possible. Most of all, I made lasting friendships and connections with other campers and lab leaders, finding a community and family of people that share my interests. This camp doesn’t just foster a great educational experience where you can find your voice, but also creates some of the most memorable moments of your life. At UTNIF, you won’t just find an amazing education, but an amazing home as well.”

- Aditya Manjul, Seven Lakes High School (UTNIF 2017)

“When attending the PF portion of the UTNIF speech and debate camp, I found that there were advantages unique to the community and staff at the Camp that anyone, truly invested in the event, would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The most notable aspect of the camp being that the staff took an obvious and personal interest in the growth that each camper underwent. Rather than applying a one size fits all policy to each lab, the entirety of the staff worked tirelessly to evaluate each camper on an individual level and apply the necessary drills and tactics in order to help us progress in our respective areas. This growth not only encompassed our skill within debate, but our ability to find confidence in both our arguments and ourselves. Before attending the UTNIF PF camp, I had become too focused and in some regards worried about the minutia of the technical aspect of debate, as well as, my ability to fulfill my role in the activity. However, following my time at UTNIF I noticed that in-round strategy became easier for me to execute allowing the entire narrative of the round to fall into place. My confidence also continued to soar, as I remembered the words and advice of my instructors, allowing me to win rounds and advance in tournaments that I had never envisioned I would be able to before. UTNIF PF is not only a remarkable camp for debate skill development, it is a family as well.”

- Victoria Menendez, Saint Mary’s Hall (UTNIF 2018)

Our 2019 Public Forum Staff

UTNIF Public Forum Curriculum Director 2016-2019

Our Public Forum Curriculum Director is Joseph Uhler of Westlake High School in Austin.  This is Joseph’s third year at Westlake and his students have already earned multiple Tournament of Champions bids in PF.  Joseph was previously the Director of Forensics at Anderson High School for over a decade.  His students at Anderson reached elimination rounds at TFA State, UIL State, NFL/NSDA Nationals, and the Tournament of Champions.  In 2010, Joseph’s students were in the final round of the Tournament of Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking.  In 2011, one of Joseph’s students won TFA State in Congressional Debate (House), and in 2015, one of Joseph’s students won TFA State in Original Oratory. One of his Public Forum teams was invited to the Harvard Round Robin.  Anderson consistently finished in the top five overall sweepstakes at the UT Longhorn Classic and finished in the top ten in overall sweepstakes at TFA State five times under his leadership.

The UTNIF PF instructors are dedicated to making you a better debater through a rigorous and engaging curriculum designed to build and enhance your skills. Participants in UTNIF PF will have the chance to be heard and critiqued by judges and coaches from within the PF field as well as across the forensics spectrum.

Confirmed Staff for 2019:

Kirsten Nash is the director of forensics at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas, where she has been coaching for 13 years. Under Kirsten’s leadership, the Hendrickson team has won 5 UIL State Championships, had a TFA State Champion Speaker in Policy Debate, and multiple state finalists and NSDA and TOC elimination round participants in PF, CX, Extemp, Congress, Oratory, DI and World School’s Debate. The team was awarded as a NSDA School of Honor in 2016. Nash has served as the President of the Texas Forensic Association and is currently the TFA Archivist and on the NSDA Heart of Texas District Committee.


Olivia Hardage competed in public forum debate at Westlake High School. Olivia competed in debate her junior and senior years and within her first year, she qualified for TFA State and advanced to the elimination rounds of the Churchill tournament. Her senior year Olivia served as captain of the Westlake team, qualified to TFA State, earned a bid to the Tournament of Champions, and broke at multiple national tournaments such as Churchill and The University of Texas. This year, Olivia coached for Bowie High School who reached out rounds at major tournaments such as Harvard. Olivia attends the University of Texas at Austin, studies government, and is very excited to work at UTNIF again this summer!

Andy Stubbs is the debate coach at St. John’s School. He competed in Policy debate and advanced to late outrounds at NSDA Nationals twice and received a speaker award there in 2007. Andy has coached PF teams into invites to the Stanford, Berkeley, Strake, and Kandi King Round Robins. He also works with the Houston Urban Debate League and the Harris County Department of Education’s CASE Debates initiative to bring debate to schools across Harris County.


John Mast is the Debate Coach at Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin, Texas.  He has coached students to the elimination rounds of the Tournament of Champions and TFA State.  He has had students qualify for NSDA Nationals in all of the debate events, including elimination rounds. His students have been in elimination rounds of major national tournaments including St. Marks and the Glenbrooks.  John’s students have been invited to multiple round robins across the United States.


Cale McCrary is the Head Coach at Corona del Sol in Arizona, and an assistant for the Quarry Lane (CA) and Brophy Prep (AZ) debate programs. In his first two years as a coach, Cale’s teams have accumulated 15 bids to the Tournament of Champions, with finals appearances or championships at the New York City Invitational, Arizona State University Invitational, Barkley Forum at Emory, and Golden Desert UNLV Tournament. Cale debated at Saint Mary’s Hall for two years, where he was ranked in the top 30 for Public Forum in 2017, with semi-final placements at TFA State & Grapevine.


 Ilana Cuello-Wolffe debated for The Dalton School for three years. She qualified to the Tournament of Champions her junior and senior year, reaching out rounds her senior year. She reached elimination rounds at many national circuit tournaments, including the New York Invitational, Princeton, Harvard, Ridge, and many others. She received many speaker awards including third speaker at Princeton, Ridge, Villiger, and top speaker at the Byram Hills Invitational and the Westridge Round Robin She qualified for the NSDA National Tournament her senior year, and is very excited to teach at UNTIF this summer!


Andrew Kamen debated for Bronx high School of Science and currently serves as co-captain of his team. Andrew has qualified three times to the NYSFL State Championship and the Tournament of Champions. This year, he has also qualified to the NCFL Grand National Tournament. During his senior year, Andrew was a quarterfinalist at the NYSFL State Championship and a semifinalist in the Silver Division at the Tournament of Champions. Andrew looks forward to working at UTNIF and is excited to meet the next generation of talented debaters.

Mukund Rao debated for Plano West where he served as the public forum captain his senior year. Throughout his career, he has qualified twice to TFA state and twice to the gold Tournament of Champions. In his junior year, he reached elimination rounds at Hockaday, Colleyville, and Harvard in addition to receiving bids at Grapevine and the University of Texas. In his senior year, he broke at nearly every tournament he attended, reaching octofinals at Glenbrooks and championing Grapevine and Hockaday. Outside of public forum, he has qualified to the TOC in extemp and reached elimination rounds at NSDA nationals in big questions debate. Mukund looks forward to teaching at UTNIF this summer!

Ananthi Jayasundera debated for Anderson High School where she served as an officer her senior year. Throughout her career, she qualified three times to TFA state, breaking her senior year. She has reached elimination rounds at several national tournaments, including Apple Valley, Bellaire, Churchill, University of Texas, Katy Taylor, and Plano West, and has been invited to the Bellaire Round Robin. After receiving a bid at Plano West her junior year, Ananthi competed at the Silver Tournament of Champions where she advanced to elimination rounds. Outside of public forum, Ananthi qualified to TFA state in domestic extemp her sophomore and junior years. She is very excited to teach at UTNIF this summer!

Ali Slimi debated for 4 years at Westlake High School and currently serves as the team captain. Ali has qualified three times to TFA State and twice to the Tournament of Champions. During his senior year, Ali and his partner were consistently ranked in the top 50 in the nation, reaching elimination rounds at Apple Valley, Glenbrooks, and TFA State, earning the state title his senior year. Ali has reached semis at Grapevine, championed UT and Churchill, and qualified for NSDA Nationals in PF. Ali is excited to be working this summer at the UTNIF, which he attended before his senior year.


Michael Gormley is a consultant for Hendrickson High School PF. He competed in Public Forum for the Dalton School in New York. His senior year he qualified for the TOC and won top speaker at the Princeton Invitational. As an UTNIF alumni, Michael is excited to contribute to the camp’s excellent teaching and learning environment.



Public Forum Curriculum Core Areas of Focus

1 – Core Expertise: Research, Flowing, and Speaking: Stylistic approaches and judge preferences vary by area. However, having superior evidence, addressing important arguments made by your opponents and your partner, and speaking better than your opponents are universal skills. Improving in these areas will immediately make you more successful. Each day debaters will participate in a series of drills designed to hone, improve, and advance their core debate skills. Students will also be provided with drill session handouts and notes for practice during the season and to share with teammates at home.

2 – Argument Development: Elements to Advanced Techniques: Debaters will learn and practic a variety of argument strategies. These approaches include components of an argument, analyzing and developing link chains, offensive vs. defensive arguments, logical fallacies, and weighing arguments.

3 – Case Construction – A Thematic Approach: Winning debaters begin with winning cases. Debaters will be exposed to and encouraged to try several different casing strategies. These strategies include using definitions and resolutional concepts to craft logically consistent cases.

4 – Speech-Specific Best Practices – A Formula for Success: Debaters should have specific goals for every speech in a Public Forum round. These goals include identifying and refuting your opponent’s key arguments as well as understanding and executing your team’s strategy. Debaters will participate in several practice rounds and drill sessions focused on maximizing the effectiveness of every rebuttal, summary, and final focus.

5 –Argument Integration – Using and Refuting Policy and Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Public Forum: Many times debaters cross-over from Policy or LD into Public Forum. This creates challenges for conventional Public Forum teams, especially if they are not exposed to or trained in dealing with the more technical aspects of their debating counter-parts. In addition to learning how to refute these positions, debaters will also learn how to package and present these same strategies in a manner appropriate for their area.