[eDebate] Oregon debate

Israel Pastrana i_pastrana
Tue Apr 11 20:16:13 CDT 2006

First of all I want to say thank you to everyone who has expressed support and solidarity with the debaters at Oregon.  I?ll do my best to thank all of you individually but we want to let you all know that we greatly appreciate all of the help.  We really want to call attention to the fact that this was not something that we agreed/consented to, nor were we involved in discussions about what steps could be taken to prevent such a drastic measure.  While Paul Hood was very upfront in his claim that it would be dishonest to ask for our opinion because the decision had already been made, I have to say that the cloak-and-dagger-ness of this decision represents an abandonment of faith in the ability to the students to recognize the limitations posed by the current situation and come up with viable alternatives that do not reverse decades competitive policy success and undermine the strength of the entire program.  The following are just some of my thought on what has happened
 here at the UO.  They represent only my views or where applicable the views expressed in conversations with other debaters on the squad.  I apologize for the lack of organization.
  I just a few hours ago got out of a meeting with one of the coaches at the UO where I proposed an alternative to the decision to cut policy.  Among the issues discussed were a scaling back of national tournaments (taking Wake, GSU, Kentucky, and Northwestern/Texas out of the travel schedule) and instead focusing solely on the Northwest/California/Rockies.  I also argued that we could cut the cost of tournaments by driving to tournaments (Pepperdine Northridge, Swing) that we traditionally flew to.  I suggested taking people up on their offers to cover judging etc.  I thought that this would be a compromise between the demands of fielding a successful Parli program while keeping policy debate alive at the university.  I was told that the proposal was unacceptable.
  We have as many as 5 returning policy debaters and I personally have had discussions with a number of successful policy debaters throughout the region that have expressed interest in attending the UO.  The future of policy debate has not looked this bright at Oregon for years.  Michael Belcher was an incredibly successful high school debater.  Hailey Sheldon won the JV division at Berkeley and took second speaker.  Nik Ligett transferred in half way through the year, won JV at Berkeley receiving a speaker award all while not having debated in over two years.  Alex Peterson is a novice debater who has been none-the-less cutting countless updates, selflessly giving to the team while recognizing that he couldn?t compete until next year.  The decision is especially devastating for Nik who turned down the opportunity to go to music school next year so that he could debate for Oregon.  I don?t mean to say that we should value one group of debaters over another; my argument is
 that the coaching staff has created a false dilemma by claiming that there exists a trade off between the competitive success of a parli program and the ability to field a policy team.  Numerous programs demonstrate that (especially when the program is well funded like the UO is) it is possible to compete successfully in all styles of competitive speech and debate.
  I also believe that not having a policy debate program undermines the competitiveness of the Parli program.  Not only do former policy debaters tend to do well in the transition to Parli debate, but I would say that given the direction of Parli, a background in policy is becoming essential to success on the national Parli circuit.  Ask Matt Contreras if his time as a community college policy debater had a hand in his success at the NPTE.  Having a policy program feeds the success of Parli, as those who are not able to devote time etc, are able to (usually) successfully transition to other forms of debate and our research often informs the creation of topic briefs and affirmatives in parli. 
  There are a million other issues I wish I had the time to raise concerning questions of diversity, alumni relations, the development of regional debate etc, but the scope of the impact that this decision will make is far too great for me to list.  Perhaps others who have had involvement with the university will address these issues.  I can however address the question of how this affects me.  I came to the University of Oregon from Southwestern Community College with the hopes of partaking in the tradition of policy debate at the UO.  Having heard countless stories from Jordan Mills about the Trond Jacobsons, Katie Bauers, Joe Patrices, Chris Crews, Kara Bordens etc, I decided that the opportunity to debate for this institution (along with the fact that I would be able to debate immediately) was enough to outweigh financial considerations.  I did not pursue other avenues because this was where I wanted to debate.  Considering my background (the loan my parents took out to
 finance one year of out-of-state tuition plus housing was an amount greater than my family?s combined income) this was not an easy decision to make.  Now I realize that not only have I put my parents horribly in debt, I did so for a program that has now closed off any opportunities for me to continue to compete in policy debate.  And that really hurts.
  I really don?t know what else to say.  I would really appreciate any suggestions for what we can do to fight this loss, although the meeting I recently had makes me think that there is little that we can do.  All that I can say is that we really appreciate your support and we would hope that people engage this discussion in the community to generate strategies for not allowing this to happen in the future, or how we can reverse the decisions such as this one.  Once again thank you for all of the kind words and support, the show of solidarity both by members of the parli and policy community has been tremendous.
  I have included the email addresses of Aaron Donaldson, Paul Hood, and Dr. David Frank for all of you that are interested in expressing your disappointment with the decision.
  apdonaldson at hotmail.com
  paul_hood at hotmail.com
  dfrank at uoregon.edu
  Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you to Jeannette.  Her dedication to policy debate at Oregon has been amazing and I think she should be commended for all that she has given the program.
  Jason Derby, I?m really sorry you didn?t get to go to the NDT.  I got a lot of love for you and it really sucks that having to overcome all of the obstacles that you and I have had to go through just to get involved in the activity, we now have to face more in order to be successful.
  Israel Pastrana

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