March 2010


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"Meany, John" <[log in to unmask]>
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USA Debating in the WUDC Format <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 30 Mar 2010 15:58:02 -0700
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Regarding USU Procedure

There are a number of conventional practices associated with BP debating.
Like those associated with most debate formats, they appear to be based on
the Goldilocks Principle ­ only some of them, about one-third, are Œjust
right.š The USU debating championship is an opportunity to serve as an
exception, an outstanding model for tournament administration and debating.
I will offer some recommendations here, hoping for some serious discussion,
as well as the integration of some of these recommendations as elements of
future hosting bids.

Specified and public role for administrators

There are a number of titles given to individuals at BP tournaments but it
is generally unclear which particular tasks are assigned to individuals
assuming those roles, as well as the limits of their authority during a
tournament. What will the CA do? The DCAs? The Tab Director? The Equity
Officer? These tasks often vary by tournament. What will one get from these
people at any USU? I recognize that there are some unspecified and popular
traditional roles for some of these officials. For example, the traditional
role of the equity officer (paradox spoiler alert!) is to have an assigned
role to a woman to create the impression of gender equity in tournament
administration. But the appropriate response is outing, not emulation.

Generally, I prefer a tournament to be managed by machine. I do not support
the idea of personal manipulation of tab results by one or more members of a
tab room staff (by manipulation, I mean the reassignment of teams or judges
or the repositioning of teams, e.g., a move from opening prop to closing
opp, after computer assignment). This happens all too often in international
debating ­ it is frequently the reason that there is a long delay from the
submission of the last ballot to the announcement of the next debate.

If the tournament is managed by a tab director operating the tabulation
software, there is much less need for what it is that CAs and DCAs
traditionally do at tournaments. If the only tasks remaining happen to be
topic writing and/or selection, there should be matching titles and job
responsibilities for the individual or group (topic author, topic
committee). And if it is the case the CA is literally a topic author, the
ŒCAš should note, prior to an event, her or his standards for construction
and selection of topics, as well as previous examples of work.

Equity Officer? If this person manages harassment issues, it is almost
surely a violation of federal and state law, as well as college and
university harassment policies. I recommend speaking with appropriate
parties regarding law, policy, and procedure. Deference to debate tournament
sub-administrators on civil rights matters is unlikely to be codified in any
jurisdiction in the US or elsewhere or serve as a sufficient defense for
onešs actions. If the equity officer makes case-by-case decisions about
other issues than harassment (e.g., łjudge does not know the rules˛), there
should be a posted procedure, prior to the tournament, as to how the
tournament will accept and deal with complaints. Quite frankly, this is too
often a de facto and privately privileged system for judge strikes and
mutually preferred judging. Tournaments would be advised to manage this in
an open and fair manner well in advance of a tournament rather than using
the conventional ad hoc approach.

Much contemporary economic Œdownsizingš is unfortunate but eliminating the
stuffy bureaucracy and Pentagon-like titling of tournament administration
would be welcome and efficient. If people need titles, I am happy to provide
much better ones than CA, DCA, or Equity Officer. Modest fee! And who
wouldnšt want to be the next Forest Bog Czarina? Bad Boy of the Beaumond?
Americašs Top Carny?


I appreciate when tabulation is transparent ­ the tab director should be
located in the central room for announcing the topic and should be available
(when convenient) to help guests learn about tournament tabulation. This
should be a staple of USU events.

For tournaments with subsequent personal manipulation of the computer tab
results, any changes should be recorded and made public as part of the tab
results. This is only reasonable, after all ­ it is the way the tournament
is tabulated. If the computer has not generated the results, the attendees
should know who produced the pairings and how (perhaps why) changes were
made. (This is more relevant to tournaments other than USU).

There should be open adjudication for ALL debates. Open adjudication
provides instructional information to debaters and a measure of
accountability for judges. I know the various reasons for secrecy (I have
debated these issues about other debate formats for decades) ­ they are
hardly compelling. In fact, some of them are downright embarrassing (I get
it! I get it! ­ You canšt get anyone to pay attention to you unless you are
the person possessing the secret information regarding the qualifying teams
for elimination rounds. But onešs social insecurity or lack of charisma is
NOT a reason to keep adults in the dark about their performances).

Debate Feedback Forms

There is so much wrong with this idea that I am reluctant to even write
about it. This is email, after all; this note shouldnšt be the length of a
novella. Let me simply summarize the most egregious problems ­ (1) it
contradicts judge training (the CAs/DCAs using both conventional tournament
training and judge feedback form donšt get it but donšt let them in on the
contradiction just yet, it is simply too hilarious); (2) there is no
content-based rubric for judge assessment ­ it is meaningless; and (3) it
reinforces established prejudices ­ it rigs the results. ŒNuff said.

More laterŠ


Claremont Colleges