[eDebate] The Road to NCA: East Meeting at West Point
Ceda2vp at cs.com
Thu Nov 13 07:23:01 CST 2003
Since I received 32 changes in the last 24 hours, I will wait till the
afternoon to post an update and instead take a quick break from tournament prep for
an overdue e-mail.
Along with all of the accolades for the West Point tournament, another event
of note took place. We held a Regional Speakout for the East Region for both
students and coaches as a precursor to NCA. The Student Meeting was led by
National Student Representative, Will Felder of West Point, whose insightful
leadership led to a thoughtful exchange between he and I and a meaningful agenda
for each meeting.
Folks who are new to the activity, new coaches or simply interested in
improving the activity should be aware that decisions are made at the National
Communication Association (NCA) which this year will be in Miami Beach and at the
CEDA Nationals Business Meetings. If you want change, student or coach,
contact your regional representatives, student representatives and the EC and make
your opinions known. Some of the easy ways:
a) make sure your school votes. Send a proxy to your regional rep or someone
else who is attending. If you care vote even if it's simply to vote no to
everything or abstain to everything. There's no representation without a vote;
b) share brief statements on items for consideration. If there's stuff you
want on the agenda, follow the deadlines and tell the Executive Secretary Jeff
c) Volunteer for committees-work doesn't get done magically. If stuff ain't
right, look in the mirror first and ask what you've done to improve CEDA since
you're involvement began.
d) Write topic papers. Do you want something that hits closer to home. Do
you want to debate from a local/state perspective? Think we should be debating
something different? Do you want social issues included with military, legal
and economic topics?
Write a paper, justify it and let people know. Even if it doesn't win,
active participation breeds change. The folks who serve on this committee have an
incredibly tough job and welcome your help. The job is to design a topic that
pleases the most people despite anyone's claims to the contrary.
None of these options are restricted by cash, privilege or status. While we
want to be at NCA, the summer meeting, and CEDA Nats, your voice can be heard
regardless. They are only restricted by the two most precious resources: time
and desire. If you want to help you can.
At the East Region Coaches' Speakout, I listened to concerns and compliments
on a range of issues. Both discussions were open to all participants and
out-of-region voices like Korry Harvey from Western Washington made significant
contributions to the discussion. We began with an introduction so people could
match faces to names and new coaches would not feel like outsiders as they
roamed the hallways. Some highlights:
NOVICES AND ACCESS: People complimented the East region on its efforts to
make debate accessible and welcoming this semester. The introduction of a
novice case list, a welcome book that lists contacts for each program, early
release of pairings on edebate, active efforts by judges and directors to begin
rounds on time and discourage prepping that delays the start and experimentation
with different tournament formats (3 day vs. two days, 5 round tournaments,
etc.) to attract new programs and schools from other regions all received some
support. There was concern about maintaining novice debate here and
strengthening it nationally.
REGIONAL DEBATE: Issues were raised regarding the state of debate and the
ability to maintain tournaments locally. Some cited the above successes of the
East Region and its 20% growth in new and returning programs this year as a
potential model for national consideration.
TOPIC SELECTION: Several people indicated their dissatisfaction with the
current topic because of breadth, inaccessibility to novices or lack of deep
debates they've heard up to this point of the year. The topic also had its
supporters who cited inclusion of specific plan texts as a measure of predictability
that made it possible for them to prepare and compete and the breadth as a
way to attract students with divergent interests (folks with science interest
might dig the DNA or GMOs stems while others would be attracted to the Iraq and
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL COMMENTARY: On behalf of the EC, I reflected on the access
of individual coaches to make change and the steps the EC is taking to be as
responsive as possible to needs and developing a culture of accountability:
We discussed that the topic committee process is open and people should write
topic papers with not just specific wordings and ground indicators but
analyses for why topics would be better for novice debate, expanding visibility on
campus and recruiting a diverse student body.
I referenced the restructuring of the Standing Committees by ML leading to
specific charges, benchmarks, and annual goals. They will be posted on the CEDA
website (www.cedadebate.org) for all to see shortly if they are not already
up. We will be neither silent nor accepting of "do nothing" committees. We
also discussed on-going discussions to develop regional action plans for every
region to meet the goals it considers most important whether it be adding new
programs, getting old programs to return, collaboration with parli,
strengthening particular divisions (novice, jv, open) just as the East has implemented
Finally, I shared that we will be releasing the results of the CEDA Passion
Survey at NCA and the most important element is that people not only listed
some great ideas but that more than 40 people volunteered to do work on specific
ideas which bodes well for our ability to move beyond "business as usual."
The coaches' meeting started late so I was not able to attend the student
meeting before the start of the next debate but Mr. Felder took important steps
and actually collected names of students to work on many items. I will
encourage him to post a full report on that meeting and action instruments that
resulted, if any.
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE! YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS! Debate's cool and can be a
lot better if we all just do a little bit.
Peace & Justice,
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