Stanford Invitational Tournament

Final sessions begin August 10th!  Our complete summer 2020 schedule will take place fully online and registration is open - sign up to secure a space in your preferred session!  See our COVID-19 page for more details.

Policy Debate

The Stanford National Forensic Institute offers a unique national caliber program conducted by the Stanford Debate Society of Stanford University, a registered student organization of the Associated Students of Stanford University.  The SNFI Policy camp offers two, three and four week options.

The SNFI Policy division, across each of the programs, has received extremely positive feedback from past attending students. In particular, over the four years, over 95% of attending students said that they would recommend the program to others, and more than 90% of students have rated the quality and effort their instructor made on their behalf as a 9 or 10 out of 10 on their end of camp evaluation forms.

The Division Director for Policy Debate is Brian Manuel, the Director of Policy Debate at the Stanford Debate Society.

Director's Note

This summer begins my 13th year of competitive debate coaching. A lot has changed since I started in this activity, but I feel that summer debate institutes have been a constant that serve as the backbone for a truly successful debate career. Since taking over as the Director of Policy Debate at Stanford, I've dedicated my time to assembling a curriculum and staff that will hopefully live up to the expectations that coaches and students have for their summer institute experience. I've worked tirelessly to incorporate students' and coaches' feedback from previous summers along with gathering input from my extensive network of colleagues from all over the country. Utilizing this feedback I believe we can and will offer a one-of-a-kind learning experience for high school debaters at the Stanford National Forensic Institute this coming summer.

Our staff has over a century of combined debate institute experience. I've focused my efforts on increasing the ranks of active coaches at the SNFI, and in so doing we’ve been able to recruit a number of full time high school directors to join us, along with some of the best young minds in the debate world. I believe this carefully balanced staff will effectively bridge the gap between the high school and college debate communities. This year’s staff aren't just colleagues, but friends as well. We have a common bond with one another and work together to achieve a common goal, which is to provide the very best summer debate education for your kids.

Our curriculum has always been a trendsetter in the debate community. Our summer institute ranks as one of the oldest in existence and many of the top debaters and instructors in our activity have either attended or taught at the Stanford National Forensic Institute, or both. Some of the students who committed to multiple years with us, really having SNFI as their major camp experience throughout high school, went on to incredible success including winning top speaker at every major tournament in the country. Our approach is simple; we focus on the process over the product, and do our best to create the foundation from which students can be their own best and most reflective critic, and who can thus improve as rapidly as possible throughout the year. Your students will learn how to become a more well-rounded student of logic and rhetoric while at the SNFI. In addition, once your student leaves Stanford they'll return home able to provide guidance to help build and maintain a culture of excellence on each one of their squads. For students who apply themselves and learn the proper techniques the sky is the limit as to their success in this activity. Upon their return everyone who has the opportunity to work with them will see the leadership skills they’ve acquired over the summer. If they bring serious effort to improve to the table, we will match their efforts every step of the way.

These are just a few of the reasons that I believe if you give us the opportunity to work with your students, we can and will contribute to a truly exceptional experience not only during the camp but into the year beyond. In addition, you have my firm personal commitment that if you send your kids to us this summer to learn about policy debate that I will match the efforts of your students with equally or even more intensive efforts on my end. Whatever level of student you send to us, highly experienced or not, I will be personally monitoring everything that happens at our policy camp to make sure we are helping your students reach their most extreme potential. As a staff we will do everything we can to set them up for a tremendous and memorable competitive year in the season ahead. If at any point you need to reach me in reference to your students' progress, I will be available to you just as I will be to your students.

Thanks for considering the Stanford National Forensic Institute's policy program in your summer planning. I hope you will give me and the staff I've helped assemble the chance to work with you and your students this summer, and in the years to come! Please feel free to contact me directly if I can answer any questions for you about our program.

Sincere regards,

Brian J. Manuel
Director of Policy Debate
Stanford Debate Society; Stanford University

2020 Policy Debate Staff Members Include:

Check back closer to the start of camp for details on our 2020 staff

We will continue to add additional staff members as enrollment and availability dictate. Details are posted on additional staff members as they are confirmed and as we have complete biographic information available. Staff listing may not be fully up to date or reflect all hires to date.

2019 Policy Debate Staff Members Included:

Stanford National Forensic Institute - Brian Manuel (Debate Programs Coordinator)

Brian Manuel, Debate Programs Coordinator

Brian is the Director of Debate at Edgemont Jr./Sr. High School in New York and Director of Policy Debate at Stanford University, in addition to serving as a consultant for the National Speech & Debate Association. Widely recognized for his unrivaled talent in revitalizing traditional programs, Brian was named the 2008 Michael Bacon Coach of the Year and 2016 Val A. Browning Director of the Year. He has been coaching for nearly 20 years and was recently elected to the Executive Board of the National Debate Coaches Association.

Under his leadership, Edgemont’s debate program has flourished, winning five state championships and countless speaker awards, as well as presenting to the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill. His students championed the 2015 Georgetown Day School Invitational and 2018 Mamaroneck Round Robin in Policy Debate; 2018 Harrison Round Robin and 2019 Newark Round Robin in Lincoln-Douglas Debate; and 2016 Lakeland Round Robin, 2016 Westchester Classic, 2018 University of Michigan High-School Tournament, and 2019 Lakeland Round Robin in Public Forum Debate. After past outround appearances in Policy and Lincoln-Douglas, Edgemont will be represented in all principal debate events at this year’s Tournament of Champions. Brian has enjoyed equal success at Stanford, where he coached its first team in two decades—and fourth team ever—to qualify for the National Debate Tournament, finishing in the top 30 in both 2013 and 2015.

Over the course of his professional career, Brian has coached for Harvard University, College Preparatory School, Cathedral Preparatory School, Chattahoochee High School, Lakeland High School, and Scranton High School. His students have advanced to elimination rounds at every major national tournament, including NSDA, NDCA, NCFL, and CEDA Nationals. He also coached the champions of the 2003 Big Bronx Invitational, 2008 Barkley Forum, and 2012 Golden Desert Tournament in Policy Debate, along with the 2007 NCFL finalists, 2012 NSDA finalists, and 2013 Phyllis Flory Barton top speaker.

During the summer, Brian serves as the Academic Director at the Stanford National Forensic Institute. He previously taught workshops at the University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, Georgetown University, and Millennial Speech & Debate. Brian is looking forward to his eleventh summer at SNFI!

Stanford National Forensic Institute - Ian Beier (Instructor)

Ian Beier, Instructor

Ian Beier is currently a PhD student and assistant coach at the University of Kansas and the College Preparatory School. In 2017, KU cleared three teams to the elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament and had one team in the quarter finals of the tournament. In 2016, KU qualified three teams to the National Debate Tournament and made it to the finals of the tournament. From 2013-2015, he coached at Damien High School. During this time, the debate team remained competitively successful and cleared at several national tournaments. In 2015, Damien High School made it to finals of the National Forensics League tournament.  Prior to his time at Damien, Ian was the Assistant Director of Debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from 2010 to 2013. During that time, UNLV qualified six teams to the National Debate Tournament, qualifying with the top seed in the district in both 2012 and 2013.

Stanford National Forensic Institute - Sydney Pasquinelli (Instructor)

Sydney Pasquinelli, Instructor

Dr. Sydney Pasquinelli is the Director of Debate and a professor of argument and communication at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan. She has been involved in competitive policy debate for over 15 years, serving as a coach for Groves High School, Wake Forest University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Oklahoma, Stanford University, Edgemont High School before she recently ended up as Director at Wayne State University (her alma mater). Sydney has expanded her coaching experience in the last couple years to become more involved in Lincoln Douglas debate as well. Her philosophy towards debate emphasizes openness to and engagement with all arguments and styles of argument.

Stanford National Forensic Institute - jon sharp (Instructor)

jon sharp, Instructor

jon sharp has been a debate coach for longer than you have been alive and has taught at SNFI since 1996. He has coached for Emory, New Trier, West Georgia, the University of Southern California, and the University of Kentucky. He is currently the Director of Debate at the Georgetown Day School. As a college coach, jon has coached teams to the late elimination rounds of every major tournament in the country, including multiple CEDA National championships. As a newly minted high school coach, his teams have won Greenhill, the Greenhill Round Robin, and the Ohio Valley at the University of Kentucky. He has taught at more than 40 debate labs at the Bates, Berkeley, Emory, Kentucky, and Stanford debate institutes, including directing the Kentucky Fellows Program, the Berkeley Mentors, and the Stanford Swing Lab. His former lab students have won every national tournament on the schedule, including the TOC, and include multiple former TOC top speakers.

Upcoming Camps

1-Week Policy Debate Workout

The 1-Week Policy Debate Workout is only offered to students with specific scheduling needs and is not a standalone camp offering that is open to general signups.  SNFI does not suggest that students sign up for only this session as it is merely one week of a larger camp academic experience.

2-Week Core Beginners' Policy Program

NOTE: if you are looking for a beginning debate program and aren't sure if you are specifically intereested in policy debate, we suggest that you review our "how to choose the right program" guide.  We offer a camp for beginning students in each type of debate, although this is the only session sepcifically called "beginner."

The SNFI is proud to offer a policy debate...

3-Week Beginners' Policy Experience

The 3-Week Beginners' Policy Experience extends the 2-Week Core Beginners' Policy Program.  During the third week, students engage in practice debates with students in the 3-Week Core Policy Program to begin the process of transitioning to regular competition that they will face during the year and continue their preparation for the upcoming debate season!

3-Week Core Policy Program

Our approach each summer involves thinking of interesting ways to use the topic as a vehicle for teaching students how to compete successfully during the year. Our 3 Week program is designed to improve students’ critical thinking and strategy: taking well-reasoned argument and tying it to evidence researched by the students on any given topic, and enhancing that argument in later rebuttals with strong analysis and expert vision. Moreover, students should walk out of the SNFI exper...

4-Week Policy Experience

The 4-Week Complete Policy Experience combines our 3-Week Core Policy Program and our Intensive Practice Round Policy Session.  For more information on both programs, please visit their respective pages.

Policy Intensive Practice Round Session

The idea behind the Policy Four Week program is simple in concept, profound in effect. Debaters improve most by debating - especially when challenged by an experienced critic in a stop-and-go format, after which students redo rebuttals and receive extensive feedback. The Four Week Program is fully integrated with the Three Week program, but adds an additional week which focuses primarily on technique, practice rounds, and small group work sessions where students write frontlines and reo...