Format & Conduct Guidelines

Debate Format

The ASB Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates, sponsored by SPJ will consist of 12 questions. Six of the questions will be determined by the ASB with questions relating to the individual schools within the University of Mississippi. Three of those questions will be given to the vice presidential candidates and the other three will be used for the presidential candidates.

The remaining six questions will be used by SPJ to focus on other relevant issues concerning the university’s student body. These questions will also be divided among the vice presidential and presidential candidates. To secure that questions are not overlapping, a once met council of two SPJ officers, two ASB officers and the selected moderator will assemble. After the selection process has completed, the questions used will be kept secret until the given time in order to preserve fairness between candidates in debate competition.

All presidential candidates will report to the Overby Center main auditorium one hour and 15 minutes (4:45 p.m.) prior to the beginning of the debate at 6 p.m. The debate itself will begin with the questions asked of the vice presidential candidates, followed by the presidential candidates. A short intermission will divide the two debates.

Depending on the number of candidates, a coin toss or drawing of numbers will determine the sequence in which the candidates will answer the moderator’s questions. After the first question, candidates will rotate responses according to their sequence. (EXP Q1: candidate 1, candidate 2, candidate 3. Q2: candidate 2, candidate 3, candidate 1. Q3: candidate 3, candidate 1, candidate 2. Etc) Once a question is asked, the candidate has two minutes to answer the given question. A time keeper will be in place, notifying candidates of time remaining with colored lights to narrate remaining time with green indicating 30 seconds, yellow indicating 15 seconds and red indicating only 5 seconds remain. If necessary, a buzzer will sound notifying them that time has expired.

If a candidate should choose to conclude his or her answer prior to the end of the two minute period, that candidate will end by saying “Thank you moderator.” In doing so, the moderator will prompt the following candidate to begin the next two minute response.

At the end of the debate, the moderator will give each candidate an additional 2 minute response time for concluding comments.

Candidate Conduct

With this debate it is important to display mutual respect and protocol between candidates. The following are the rules of conduct in which candidates will abide by.
  • Candidates will uphold the principles set forth in the University of Mississippi Creed.
  • In the pursuit of respecting each other, if a candidate interrupts the response time of another, 30 seconds will be removed from that candidate’s next response time upon the judgment of the moderator.
  • Slander of another candidate will not be tolerated and violates the principles in the University Creed. If a candidate should discredit the image of an opposing candidate, the opposing candidate may apply for a one minute rebuttal time at the judgment of the moderator.
  • If a candidate continues to slander an opposing candidate in his or her responses, the moderator may reprimand the candidate for poor conduct and remove 30 seconds from that candidate’s next response time.
Moderator Conduct

The moderator plays a key role in bringing light to key issues in determining the candidacy of the next ASB president. It is her or his obligation to represent the concerns of the students with personal dignity and respect for the candidates.
  • The moderator will uphold the principles set forth in the University of Mississippi Creed.
  • Disorderly conduct and lack of respect from a candidate towards an opponent is grounds for penalizing that candidate by 30 seconds on his or her next response time. As this is decided by the moderator, this is a very delicate situation and should be handled with firm judgment.
  • Once a candidate has been penalized, it is the responsibility of the moderator to remind that candidate before the beginning his or her next response time of the adjusted measurement, “Candidate, you have 1 minute and 30 seconds.” This will ensure that both the candidate and timekeeper remember the adjusted time.
Audience Conduct

  • The audience will uphold the principles set forth in the University of Mississippi Creed.
  • The audience will be asked to remain silent with no cheers, no applause, and no noise of any kind except at the very beginning as they welcome the candidates into the auditorium and again when the program has ended.
  • Noise makers and large displays (posters, Etc) are deemed disrespectful to the candidates, the moderator and audience peers and will not be allowed in the debate hall.
  • In respect of the candidates, the moderator and audience peers, all cellular devices will be asked to be turned off or on placed on silent during the program.
Campaign Alley Format

Prior to the debate, all other candidates will be allowed to campaign in an organized fashion in the main hallway of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. The candidates include Attorney General, Secretary and Treasurer.
  • All candidates participating in Campaign Alley will uphold the principles set forth in the University of Mississippi Creed.
  • Each candidate participating in campaign alley will be assigned a specific station as provided to him or her by SPJ for the use of personal displays and campaign propaganda.
  • In order to preserve the halls of The Overby Center of Southern Journalism and Politics, all stations will stand at least one foot away from the walls.
  • No candidate is allowed to post any materials on the walls behind her or his given station.