Chair of Diversity Report (Kind of)
michael l. hagan
Thu Feb 22 16:02:06 CST 2001
I strongly disagree with the ideas that you are advocating. I have not found that speed has prevented minorities from competing in Cross Examination debate. It is the simple nature of this type of debate that makes it fast.
I don't believe also that it is a case of people not joining or discontinuing because of speed, it's because they don't have the time, dont have the will, or don't have the motivation. I think that your position limits minorities abilities and encourages
them to stop pushing themselves just because they find an activity contrary to their skills. I know that as minority I could have easily seen one round of varsity debate and just quit right there because I thought it was too fast. I think you're provid
ing excuses for people who don't really need excuses.
Now I recognize that you are trying to make the activity more inclusive but I don't think it needs to be made more inclusive. If we do this one thing because people find they can't speak this fast, are we next going to lower the quality of the argumentat
ion because some people don't understand the complexity of argumentation? Also, there are alternatives to this type of debate, Parli, LD, Public, and if you want you can start your own type of debate. Debate on a macro level is the most inclusive activi
ty on this earth, each seperate type of debate appeals to a different group of people but one can't appeal to everyone, it's just not possible.
Finally, if you wish to start a revolution of sorts in thought within CX debate, actively telling your debaters to go against the NDT/CEDA/ADA will not work. Some of the most successful revolutions in history have been within the infrastructure of the de
sired institution they wish to chang. For instance, the French Revolution, the Nazi rise to power, and the Canadian Independence.
Michael L. Hagan
>>> ewarner at louisville.edu 02/22/01 15:25 PM >>>
Given the retention thread that has begun, I decided to offer my thoughts in
an unofficial capacity.
As the CEDA diversity chair I would sadly like to report that I haven't come
close to doing my job in any official sense at all. I haven't contacted a
committee member, haven't followed-up on any of the initiatives I spoke
about, nor have I made any serious effort to even understand what the
community perceives to be the most important areas of diversity are. While
I have again overcommitted myself and had some personal problems, I will not
cast myself as the "victim" here. Simply put, I haven't done my job
appropriately, and beginning now I aim to rectify that.
The one thing I have done is attempted to create some honest self-reflection
over the last couple of years about why after decades of efforts at
improving diversity in CEDA and some strong individual initiatives by some
NDT programs, there is still little diversity retention, especially at the
top levels of our activity. I am in the process of an experiment which
attempts to understand two variables, speed and culture, as they relate to
participation. I will be posting our on-going evaluation of this project to
our webpage (link below). I think Hester's posts are a very accurate
reading of what most debate coaches have faced when trying to motivate
students to do fast debate, and I suspect we succeed and fail, with varying
degrees of success.
In answer to Bear's post about speed and parli: The fact that speed IS a
in participation/retention in policy debate is in no way less valid because
parli debate has attrition problems for reasons other than speed. And there
has yet to be a warrant for the notion that "hard and fast" decisional
criteria is somehow exclusive with slower debates. It may all be
testimonial evidence but watching this community continue to ignore the
reality of speed's impact on general participation and in particular, on
it's repeated failed diversity initiatives is disheartening. How many
Americans in elims at Heart (in open)? How many Latina's received speaker
awards? How long
has this activity (CEDA) been pushing diversity initiatives (20 years or
so)? Atlanta and Detroit have urban debate leagues over a decade old. What
percentage of those students have been retained and reached elimination
round debates at major CEDA/NDT tournaments?
And please don't backchannel me with the individual "success" stories in an
attempt to disprove the claim...Because some individuals of diverse
backgrounds participate, enjoy, and excel at fast debate, does not disprove
in ANY WAY the notion that substantially more people don't participate in
this activity in part because of speed. The question is should this be a
goal of the activity.
My debaters saw top-quality fast debate for the first time this season at
the Heart last weekend. As they walked away astonished, they also walked
away being forewarned from the first day I met them that they would NEVER
have to do that in their career. I have also warned them that this agenda
may sacrifice success but that we could create a world where we don't have
to talk fast.
Ironically, I watched several of my dear friends and colleagues attempt to
students that they could do that too one day...For many years, I have also
fought this losing battle. For every one I convinced to
stay, 20 left. And the reality is, you all know this is your reality as
well. Blinded by the lure of knowing what's best for our students, we
strive to defend fast debate AT ALL COST,only focusing on the education
potential it brings. That is akin to saying,
"our education system is really solid so we don't have to worry about
drop-outs at a time when 60% of the students are dropping out in the first
year!" There are no benefits for tose that choose not to play and the
reality is many underserved communities, for a variety of reasons believe
that the entrance barriers are too high.
This is not to say there are not benefits to fast debate. Nor is this to
say that all fast debate has to go away in lieu of slow debate. What I am
saying is that there is little political space carved out in the activity
for debaters uninterested in debating fast. Maybe that little space is due
to a lack of creative thought, maybe it is institutional resistance to
change, maybe it is due to no one being interested in seeing the change.
Regarding my official duties as diversity chair, I will be contacting the
rest of the committee today or tomorrow. I also welcome any public and/or
private discussion about initiatives you would like to see the committee
Ede Warner, Jr, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication/Director of Debate
University of Louisville
UofL Debate Society Webpage:
Co-Founder, Black Radical Congress- Louisville Chapter,
"I've told how debating was a weekly event there, at the Norfolk prison
colony. My reading had my mind like steam under pressure. Some way, I had
to start telling the white man about himself to his face. I decided I could
do this by putting my name down to debate...Once my feet got wet, I was gone
--Malcolm X, Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1964
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