Skills sessions are back and better than ever! Students will be supplied with three starter packs and a host of instructors to hone their technical skills throughout camp. With daily practice speeches and the best student to teacher ratio in the country, we can guarantee that each debater will come out of camp ready to take the leap to the next level. But it’s not just practice, our Skills Sessions will develop each student as a researcher as well. Depending on your experience level students can choose between two levels of research intensity. One track will help guide students through the initial nuts and bolts of research and get students ready to navigate databases and vet sources. The other will help students build the content knowledge and background experience to tackle the criminal justice topic based on their own interests and perspectives.
A tentative daily schedule is set up as follows to ensure people can tune in from all over the country and to help minimize the amount of time spent in front of your computer: Everyone will have asynchronous lectures to watch in the morning on their own uploaded through Canvas (see our Remote Learning FAQs page for more details). In the afternoon labs will meet on Zoom and will discuss the morning’s lectures and answer questions before breaking out into various other activities. Lab leaders might choose to host research sessions, deliver more targeted lectures, host mini debates, or any other lab wide requests. These afternoon sessions will be your primary “face to face” with your lab. In the evenings there will be a practice speech on either that mornings lecture or on something the lab went over that day, and you will upload it to Canvas where your lab leaders will listen to it and leave you feedback. Lab leaders will also be available to review blocks, or even judge full practice debates, but you won’t be required to join in on Zoom.
Which Program is right for you?
With two tracks to choose from, our primary instructional lab has something for everyone! Our Skills track we recommend for students who are new to the research process. We’ll run through how to do every level of research, from the mechanics of card cutting, to the hidden tricks for navigating the library. Lab leaders will provide more direct help nailing down the skills and habits each student needs to be an effective researcher. Our Research Track we recommend for students who have more experience doing their own research and want to explore the criminal justice topic more on their own. Here our staff will work more to push your creativity, providing feedback on each student’s progress and helping to guide their exploration. Keep in mind that you can’t make a wrong choice, as both tracks will have the same set of lectures and will even share some instructors, the tracks are just designed to meet each student where they’re at in the research process and to help them make the next step in their development.
2 Week Program Instructors:
Eric Lanning, UTNIF Program Coordinator and 2 week Program Curriculum Director
Eric Lanning is currently the Program Coordinator for the University of Texas National Institute in Forensics, where he also helps to coach the speech and debate teams. Prior to joining the University of Texas, Eric lived and worked in China for 3 years as the Academic Director of speech and debate for the National Speech and Debate Association of China. Before moving to China, Eric spent 15+ years at the top levels of competitive policy debate. As a competitor in college, Eric’s accomplishments include winning the National Debate Tournament (2010), winning the Kentucky Tournament (2010) and the prestigious Kentucky Round Robin (2011) as well as being the Top Speaker at both. In 3 appearances at the NDT, 2 of them as a First Round at Large Bid (Top 16) Eric advanced to the elimination rounds as the 2nd seed twice (2010, 2015), advancing to the Octofinals (2009) and Quarterfinals (2015) as well as being the 2nd ranked speaker (2010). In addition to his own competitive success, Eric has worked with some of the most successful high school debaters and programs of the last decade as a coach. These accolades include winning the prestigious Baker Award for season long excellence, Back to Back National Championships at the Tournament of Champions, as well as the Winner and Top Speaker at nearly every major National Tournament, including Greenhill, St. Marks, the Glenbrooks, the Barkley Forum, the Montgomery Bell Academy, and Harvard. Eric is originally from Houston, Texas and attended both Michigan State University and the University of Houston, where he graduated with a degree in political science.
Leah Schultz, Senior Faculty
Leah Schultz is currently a commercial litigation associate at an International Law firm based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She received her J.D. from Emory University, where she graduated with Honors and was the Executive notes and comments editor for the Emory Law Review. Prior to pursuing her J.D. she received a M.A. in Communication from Wake Forest University. Leah is among the most successful college debate coaches in recent memory. She has worked with Wake Forest, Gonzaga, Harvard and Kentucky as an assistant debate coach. Her teams have won every major award in college debate, including Copeland award winners, Top Speaker at the NDT, Top Seed at the NDT and NDT Champions. As a competitor in college, Leah reached the semifinals of the NDT and was the 5th ranked at large bid to the NDT. In high school, she debated with UTNIF Program Coordinator, Eric Lanning – reaching the semifinals of the TOC and receiving 8 TOC bids. This will be Leah’s first summer back at debate camp since starting her legal career and she is excited to share her unique perspective on criminal and civil law as students explore the policy debate topic (criminal justice reform) this summer. Her recent areas of focus professionally include taking a leading role in her firms COVID-19 response as well as pro bono work for inmates on death row in Georgia.
Kenny Delph, Guest Lecturer, 2 week Policy
Kenny is a recent graduate from the University of Kansas, finishing the 2020 season as one of the top ranked teams in the nation. Next year they will be pursuing their masters in communication at Wake Forest University. Kenny was recently recognized as the 2020 CEDA ‘Baby Jo’ Debater of the Year, one of the highest honors in the college debate community. This award recognizes an outstanding debater with a record of competitive success and a commitment to represent the highest values of the debate community. Their competitive accomplishments include recieving First Round at Large bids to the NDT twice, advancing to the elimination rounds twice, 2nd place at the CEDA championship tournament and winning the prestigious Harvard Invitational, California Coast Swings and Pittsburgh Round Robin. They are a former UTNIF camper – having debated for Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Dr. Ricky Garner, Senior Faculty
Dr. Richard Garner is currently the Director of Debate at the University of Houston. Since first teaching atthe UTNIF in 2003, he’s taught labs at every skill level, helped design institute curriculum, and worked with students on everything from anarchy, to space elevators, to psychoanalysis. Before coming toHouston, he coached at Harvard for a decade, after stints at NYU, Columbia, and Emory. In the past, he’s had the privilege of coaching debaters that have won CEDA Nationals, the TOC, and top speaker at the NDT. In college, he won the CEDA National Championship at New York University, and in high school he debated in the late elims of both the UIL and TFA State Tournaments.
Rikki Bleiweiss, Senior Faculty, Technical Support Liaison and Compliance Officer
Rikki grew up in Houston, Texas, next to a closet of servers, and learned how to do basic coding at an extraordinarily young age. She grew up building small websites, but soon joined her high school debate team and developed a passion for historical and legal research. Then, in college, she abandoned all of that to become an artist, naturally.
While pursuing her degree in Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas, Rikki wrote and produced a full season of a television show for her college station, created a dog-petting-simulator video game, and wrote and directed countless short films. She also still competed on the UT debate team, and has a few national accolades to her name.
This summer, Rikki will be assisting the Policy 2 week Program in technical support and compliance with the University of Texas Youth Protection Program.
David Kilpatrick, Instructor, 2 week program
David Kilpatrick recently gradated from University of Texas after debating for 5 years and has been actively involved with debate for over a decade. He currently coaches at Westwood High School and UT. During the 2018-19 season he’s coached teams to qualifications to the Tournament of Champions and the National Debate Tournament, including the Championship of the Longhorn Classic. This is his 7th UTNIF and he’s thrilled to be leading survivors this year. He absolutely loves debate and hopes to help students meet and exceed their goals for the next season.
Nico Juarez, Instructor, 2 week program
Nico Juarez has been involved in debate for 8 years now. Seeing teaching and learning as a site for liberation and enlightenment, Nico combines his experience doing competitive debate, his role as an active scholar in the humanities, and pedagogies of care to support students in achieving their personal and educational goals. Nico was a two-time first-round debater at the University of Oklahoma and succeeded in reaching elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament multiple times. As a coach, Nico has experience working with a variety of traditional policy debate and critical debate students from both small and large schools. Outside of debate and academia, Nico enjoys visiting museums and wandering through book stories with coffee in hand. If asked about psychoanalysis, he tends to talk a lot.
Zachary Watts, Instructor, 2 week program
Zachary Watts is a rising fourth-year debater for the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, he debates as a 2N/1A, but also has previous experience in the 2A/1N position. This will be his third year working with the UTNIF. He looks forward to both deepening his knowledge and literature base for anti-blackness studies and providing assistance for the high school debaters attending the camp. Outside of debate, Zachary is a rising fourth-year chemical engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin. Zachary is a two time NDT Qualifier and would have attended the 2020 NDT if not for COVID-19.
Will Coltzer, Instructor, 2 week program
William Coltzer is a rising third year at the Unuversity of Texas at Austin. Will studies government and has competed for UT the past two years. As a college debater, he has qualified to the National Debate Tournament (NDT) twice and was invited to the Pitt Round Robin. In highshool, he competed for Winston Churchill (Tx) in both LD and Policy. His senior year he was in the quarters of Greenhill, Emory, Grapevine, and the TFA state tournament. He attended the UTNIF as a high schooler and worked the camp last year as an RA/lab assistant.
Mason Marriott-Voss, Instructor, 2 week program
Mason Marriott-Voss is a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Mason studies biochemistry and has competed for UT for a season and a half. During his first full year of debate in college he qualified for the National Debate Tournament (NDT) and was invited to the Pitt Round Robin. In high school he competed for the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) in Austin. His senior year he was elimination rounds of the Tournament of Champions (TOC), and won both the Harvard Invitational and the Texas TFA State Championship. He was invited to the Greenhill Round Robin, and was in late elims of Greenhill, St Marks, Texas, and Grapevine. He attend the UTNIF before his senior season, and worked at the camp the past three summers as a lab leader/assistant.