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Statement by the Cross Examination Debate Association Regarding Fort Hays University Press Conference


The Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) acknowledges that each of its member institutions must hire and staff their programs with faculty that best represent the educational mission of their university. As an organization, we must rely upon member institutions to hire individuals that conduct themselves appropriately and within the standards stated in the CEDA by-laws. As such, we respect the decision made by Fort Hays State University and their President Dr. Edward H. Hammond to dismiss Dr. Bill Shanahan. The organization has expressed its deep and profound disappointment by the incident immediately after the quarterfinal debate between Fort Hays State University and Towson University at the 2008 CEDA national tournament.

Debate provides a unique space where college students can explore a range of political thought. College debate teaches research, organization, critical thinking, strategic planning, foresight, and analysis. The behavior seen on the video clips of the incident does not accurately reflect the overwhelming majority of our community. More than 3,500 teams, representing more than 100 colleges and universities, entered college debate tournaments over the last year. The quality of college debate should not be evaluated on the basis of one debate, but on the totality of the thousands of rounds of competition by all students. The 2008 national tournament alone included approximately one thousand debates and it is unfortunate that the high standards of civil discourse followed by our community were not adhered to in this instance.

As a professional organization, CEDA is always striving to improve its practices. We will be opening a dialogue among our membership about how to improve curriculum and professional conduct at future competitions. Specifically, before the video controversy the organization began a review of its by-laws to determine the best ways to further promote educationally and professionally appropriate behavior among its members. The organization has also recently launched a new curriculum review to ensure that best practices can be taught in schools across the country. We also welcome the opportunity to work with Fort Hays, and all of our member institutions, to provide opportunities for students to debate.

Background on CEDA

Founded in 1971, the Cross-Examination Debate Association (CEDA) is the primary national association sanctioning and promoting intercollegiate academic policy debate. Throughout the school year, CEDA sanctions over 60 tournaments throughout the nation, including an annual National Championship Tournament that brings together over 175 individual debate teams from across the nation to compete for a national team championship.

For further information, contact Darren Elliott, CEDA President (, Gordon Stables, CEDA 1st Vice President ( or Kathryn Rubino, Chair of the CEDA Public Relations committee (

Cross Examination Debate Association - Executive Officers


Darren Elliott

Kansas City Kansas Community College

1st Vice President

Gordon Stables

University of Southern California

2nd Vice President

Sue Peterson

California State University, Chico


ML Sandoz

Vanderbilt University

Executive Secretary

Jeffrey Jarman

Wichita State University