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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Jim Maritato" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Oct 2, 2011 6:03 PM
Subject: Join the Trojan Web Debates - USC&apos;s Fall Online Tournament!
To: <[log in to unmask]>

Dear Friends and Colleagues in the Northeast

Greetings from the west coast!  I hope that the start to the 2011-2012
debate season has been great for you and your students thus far.

We are roughly two weeks away from the start of the Trojan Web
Debates<http://usctrojandebate.com/page/trojan-web-debates-announcement>-
USC's Fall 2011 Online Tournament taking place between 10/17 and
10/28.  I
am writing you to ask for your support and to encourage your students to
participate in this exciting opportunity to debate in an innovative
platform.  This tournament is similar in format to the Annenberg Digital
Debates <http://bit.ly/AnnenbergDebates> - the first online debate
tournament we hosted in April, and that included several policy and World's
BP debaters from the Northeast.  Our tournament model allows students to
engage in two debates (one affirmative and one negative) over the course of
one week.  Students alternate between responses in their affirmative debate
and their negative debate each day.  Debaters record a 3-5 minute response
each day between Monday and Friday and judging takes place over the
weekend.  The top 10 debaters advance to a second week of competition to
determine overall tournament winners.  A complete explanation of rules and
format is available at http://www.usctrojandebate.com

As October is LGBT History Month and Coming Out Month, we have focused this
semester's tournament around the discussion of LGBT equality.  Thus,
students are asked to engage the following question:

*Should same sex marriage be the top priority of the LGBT civil rights
movement?*

The goal of these debates is to encourage students to engage in a discussion
of movement priorities and tactics, wherein they defend the prioritization
of same-sex marriage on the affirmative, and offer a competing issue of
priority when on the negative.  Students are encouraged to make well
reasoned arguments supported by evidence, but to present their arguments in
a style appropriate for a public audience.

We are asking for a small $10 donation to the International Gay and Lesbian
Human Rights Commission from each student participating in the tournament as
an entry fee to the tournament.  Prizes and awards for the top 10
competitors (including Amazon.com Gift Cards between $25-$100) will be
provided by the Trojan Debate Squad.  We encourage debate directors to
consider entering students in this tournament as a cost effective strategy
to increase opportunities for students to debate this semester.  However, if
you or your students face barriers to entry due to donation costs please
feel free to contact me to discuss an alternate arrangement.

The goal of these debates is to encourage students to engage in a discussion
of movement priorities and tactics, wherein they defend the prioritization
of same-sex marriage on the affirmative, and offer a competing issue of
priority when on the negative.  Students are encouraged to make well
reasoned arguments supported by evidence, but to present their arguments in
a style appropriate for a public audience.

Some reasons to participate in our event include:

   - *Easy access to at least 2 (and possibly 4 based on performance)
   debates, judged by experienced critics of argument.*  All judges in our
   competition will have at least a Bachelor's degree and substantial
   experience in debate and argumentation.
   - *Low entry fee, and no travel/hospitality/lodging costs!*
   - *Entry fees benefit a good cause, and contribute toward ending violence
   and discrimination of persons based on their gender expression and/or sexual
   identity!*
   - *Little to no competitive trade off with other debate events* - there
   are no college tournaments hosted during competition days, with the limited
   exception of Week 1 beginning on elim day of the UNLV tournament.
   - *Easy process, small time commitment *- debates are roughly 20 minutes
   in length, and students post speeches that are no longer than 5 minutes per
   day.
   - *Opportunity to research as the debate progresses *-- as the tournament
   is "asynchronous" in nature, students have 24 hours to respond and can thus
   engage in research to support direct engagement with their opponents' points
   from speech to speech
   - *It's fun!*  Feedback from our April tournament was overwhelmingly
   positive, with many students commenting that they enjoyed facing off against
   debaters from a variety of different speech and debate activities, sharing
   their debates with their friends, and learning from and with their
   opponents.  University faculty and administrators also found our event
   inspiring, and have noted the potential for our model to create additional
   avenues of access to debate and argumentation training and actitivities.
   - *You can debate from almost anywhere! * Our use of YouTube as a
   platform for the debates allows students, judges, and audiences to
   participate using traditional laptops or netbooks, but also facilitates
   participation from students with mobile phones with cameras and Internet
   access.

The Trojan Web Debates are an important "next-step" in the evolution of our
tournament model.  The most significant difference between our last event
and the Trojan Web Debates is that this tournament will be conducted via
YouTube rather than DebateHall.com.  A substantial aspect of this project is
not simply to replicate the tournament model we created in April in a new
platform - but to develop a model and rubric that can be easily deployed by
any number of debate programs, student organizations, etc. to easily host
debate competitions that allow students to participate independent of the
costs of travel.  We also believe these tournaments are an important step
toward connecting debate communities and students who wish to debate, who
lack the institutional support of their colleges and universities.
Moreover, shifting to YouTube allows students who have access to cell phones
with video cameras and mobile Internet to participate in our event.  While
our ability to leverage social media in the last iteration of our tournament
model was limited, we anticipate posting debates to Facebook, Twitter, and a
variety of other social media to encourage public engagement, as well as
facilitate easy sharing of debates between debaters and their peers.

Please join us as we take the next step in creating new opportunities for
student and public engagement with debate.  Please feel free to pass along
this e-mail or any information about our tournament to students, and to
contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks,

Jim Maritato
Assistant Director of Public Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
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973-879-3303