March 2010


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Alfred C Snider <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
USA Debating in the WUDC Format <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 31 Mar 2010 20:48:56 -0400
text/plain (84 lines)

John Meany of Claremont has raised some interesting issues, and as 
convener of a potential USU 2011 at the University of Vermont I wanted 
to reply.

1. Titles:

   * Convener - run the logistics of the tournament. If it is on his or
     her campus they are ultimately responsible for the tournament.
   * CA - coordinate motion writing, plan and implement judge and
     debater training, tabulate judge feedback. Guidelines for motion
     writing will be made available.
   * DCA - assist in these efforts of the CA
   * Tab - record ballots, input judge rankings from CA/DCA based on
     training test and feedback form, allow computer to pair the round.
   * Equity officer - hear complaints from any participant. Need not be
     a woman. Convene informal investigation and offer informal 
suggestion of a
     resolution of a problem to the convener, who should then be
     involved because it is probably his or her institution that is
     hosting. Such decisions will be made in concert with host
     institution. We will gain guidance from our university legal
     offices before the tournament and have a representative of that
     office on call. Standards for conduct need to be stated publicly
     in advance.

2. Manual changes to the pairings: will not be done except in extreme 
circumstances. The judge ratings are put into the machine, and the 
machine assigns judges. Changes may be made when:

   * Judge needs to be replaced for reason of illness, etc.
   * Judge informs tab of a serious conflict that should have been
     reported earlier.
   * Extreme situation, judge and one of the debaters in a situation
      and would rather not now judge.
   * Bizarre and highly unusual situation I cannot imagine at this time
   * NEVER in an effort to make a "better" or "more balanced" panel.
     There is too much potential for abuse. Always keep a record of such 

3. Transparency: have the tab area in an open and available space 
depending on room availability. For example, we would not have USU tab 
in the room where everyone is hanging out because of noise, but it 
should be in an open identified space so people can drop in for the 
purposes of transparency and helping people understand how the 
tournament is tabulated. Frankly, if we have 120+ teams at USU 2011 
there is no room that can house both debaters and judges in the same spot.

4. I believe in open adjudication for all rounds. As convener I will try 
and persuade others helping me run the event that this should be so. In 
all of our regional events we have had open adjudication and none of us 
have been able to see any negative effects.

5. Judge training. We think that documents about judging should be made 
available before the tournament, we believe there should be an online 
judge test before the tournament (to allow timely examination of the 
results). We would look at the way the decision is explained as much if 
not more than the decision that is reached. There should also be format 
information made available to participants beforehand. We do believe in 
using feedback forms, because we think debaters deserve to have a say. 
Someone may make a good decision but give lousy feedback, and we want 
debaters to be able to comment on this because their learning is at stake.

Thanks to John for raising these issues, and I think all of them are 
good ones. I know that John believes we should not form an organization 
(USUDA) but then that would be one way to put standards to work. On the 
other hand, those bidding can be public about things so voters can know 
what they are choosing. This is why we are doing this now.

Thanks, and we hope you will support our bid.

Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
University of Vermont
Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
Lawrence Debate Union
Global Debate Blog
Debate Central
802-656-0097 office telephone
802-656-4275 office fax