[eDebate] For those interested in what is going on at Oregon

Israel Pastrana i_pastrana
Wed Apr 12 15:28:15 CDT 2006


Very late last night I sent the following message to the coaching staff at Oregon as a way of initiating a conversation about alternatives to cancelling support for the policy program.  The coaching staff responded saying that:
   
  "I will say this.  Paul, David, and I are still as certain that this is the right decision now as we were the day before we made it"
   
  We ask that those interested in maintaining policy debate here at the University of Oregon contact the coaching staff expressing disappointment (or perhaps more importantly) helping initiate constructive discussions about possible alternatives.
   
  Thank you for all of your support.
   
  09/16-09/18 Gonzaga
10/01-10/03 Laramie Invitational, U. of Wyoming
10/21-10/23 Pepperdine
11/04-11/06 CSU Northridge
11/19-11/20 Whitman
12/29-12/31 USC
01/03-01/06 CSU-Fullerton
01/28-01/30 University of California, Berkeley
03/04-03/06 Northwest CEDA Champs
            CEDA Nationals

Listed above are the dates for what could be the University of
Oregon?s policy travel schedule next year.  This schedule would
allow us to remain at a highly competitive level of debate, while
maintaining a regional focus.  With the exception of CEDA Nationals
all are within driving distance or a low cost flight to Los Angeles
(Southwest flies Portland to LA for $99 each way).  As you can see,
the bulk of the travel would happen before Christmas break, which is
about the same time that the Parli/I.E. schedule heats up, meaning
there would be little trade off with the ability of the coaches to
travel other commitments.  Secondly I think that Gonzaga, Wyoming, Pepperdine, and Whitman would waive (or substantially decrease) entry fees.  I have also received numerous offers from members of the community who would willingly cover judging commitments at many of these tournaments.  These changes to the travel schedule etc, would allow us to decrease the resources put into policy debate without decreasing the competitiveness of the program.

Next is the issue of coaching.  In the midst of the conversations
about the future of policy debate at the University of Oregon, several
former debaters and members of the community have come forward
offering to help the program.  I think that we could accept these
offers (especially those coming from UO alumni) as a way of fostering
relations with the community while  not disadvantaging other aspects
of the team.  It has long been a tradition at the UO that the
overwhelming majority of research is conducted by the actual debaters.
I think you would be hard pressed to find a coach in the last couple
of years at the UO that has actively engaged the topic or done
substantial work on the development of strategies.  I also don?t
think that has ever represented a problem.  The load of cutting
evidence should fall substantially on the actual debaters because it
fosters the research and analytical skills that make this activity to
valuable.  Finally debaters coach themselves.  Policy is unique in
that because of the research intensive nature of the activity, teams
cannot be successful without a high degree of cooperation between
members of the same team.  This ethic of working together also
encourages more experienced members to help others.  Because we
realize the importance of evidence quality, the need for effective
practice debates, we try to push each other closer in skill range. 
This (which I believe is unique to policy debate i.e. parliamentary
debaters might have different argumentative styles within the same
squad, but resource limitations make it so that most policy squads are
fairly homogenous in argumentative variety i.e. Oregon is a critical
team, Whitman runs agent counter-plans and politics disads etc.) means
that the coaching then is almost entirely self-sufficiently done.  The
combination of using existing resources such as alumni etc, a focus on
student research, and the development of a healthly competitive,
education environment, would substantially decrease the amount of
time/work investment on the part of the coaching staff, allowing it to
pursue its goals while maintaining a commitment to evidence based
debate.

My goal here is to demonstrate that there are alternatives that would
allow the coaching staff to pursue highly ambitious goals in
parliamentary debate while also helping to ensure that policy debate
remains viable in the Pacific Northwest.  We should remember that the
University of Oregon is the only public institution in the states of
Washington and Oregon that still consistently competes in open
division policy debate.  If for no other reason that a commitment to
the students in the region that want a less expensive, yet still
prestigious policy program, we should consider alternatives that would
allow these opportunities to exist.  It is not my intention to claim
that one form of debate should be valued over another, my claim is
simply that different activities serve different pedagogical purposes,
and it is in our (and our community?s) best interest to offer access
to as many pedagogical avenues as are available.

Israel Pastrana

		
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