[eDebate] Reconnecting debate to the academy-long

Robb Stepp rdwsteppiv
Mon Apr 17 22:21:55 CDT 2006

I am a new subscriber; and a new debater- this is my first semester.
  My school is a small church-affiliated liberal-arts college in the South.
       We have about three teams doing Parli, with only one having high school
  experience.  I am, and have been trying to find a partner for CEDA for the
  upcoming year, but there is no one at my school who has time, nor interest.
  So, I have expanded my search to other schools in the neighborhood with debate programs, hoping to find someone who might be willing to work hard, and to travel
  to whatever tournaments that we can, whether it be on our own dime, or perhaps we
  can raise some of our own funds. But, I might be confined to LD and Parli. So, obviously, what led me to post this message is that this topic is quite germane to me. So, at the risk of being redundantly obvious, I think that explaining the fledgling program problems, this might flesh-out some of the stuffs that I am reading about in this thread.  My hope too, is that there might be a few ideas... and I'll offer up a few of my own...
        Firstly, let me say that it is terrific to find edebate's board.  Thank you to the posters on this thread- particularly Stannard, Young, Gordon, and Guevara.  Mr. Gordon, and Ms. Young: I appreciate your willingness to message  these thoughts out there, and agree with much of what you put. It is very gratifying to me to realize the sincerity and devotion to this field of activity that all of you have. Though new, I am extremely committed to making this game work in my 
  hometown.  I hope that perseverance can win the day, and I too have concern that it may not...
       A quick bit of backdrop:  school is in NE Tennessee.  We have not had a coach this year really.  We have no budget to speak of. We have no appreciable experience on the team.  Teams at the neighboring schools are really in the same boat- both public and private, after all, we are in TN.  All the local schools participate in Parli, no surprise, for the same reasons mentioned throughout this topic. All the debate formats offer unique advantages, but, I am interested in CEDA: for the research and knowledge per topic- after several years of this, this could be quite an education in itself. Yes, I could just spend time in the library by myself, but there is not teamwork, I don't get to learn from others, there is no discussion, no practice nor competition in public speaking,no structure,...etc. So, yes, I buy the end-in-itself value of CEDA in particular,
  and debate in general.  (Bear with me a bit, I promise to get to something new, soon.)
       I have spent many hours in search of debate resources, finding what I can that is available on the web.  I have spent too many hours looking for annual lists of tournaments, so that I might be able to map-out possible trips by guessing the recurring annuals and dates/formats (this is not easy by any means).  I have talked to my university administration about funding a coach and  funding the team. I used the "contribution to academic life on campus" arg.: I've used the "create a feeder stream with area high-school debate program" arg...etc.  I have thought of every fund-raising device under the sun: from debates at the local NPR station with a fundraising goal, to golf tourneys where we washed clubs and cars, and then served dinner, to "debaters gone wild" video sales. I do actually have a couple of ideas that may work out to provide a relatively substantial budget.  I've discussed this with our administration, the trouble is, that if the fundraiser gets too popular,
 then those funds will get co-opted to other projects. So, our situation is the same as everywhere, and everyone knows this: our team efforts have great university support, but, the budget is more important. Sports are a revenue stream and educational activities are not, unless they provide a credential that justifies job-pay- the degree/certificate. Let's face it, debate will always be a very small percentage of the student group that doesn't effect the many. I think that there is no way around this problem. So, having been thoroughly redundant to this point, I'd like to ask these two questions:
  1)  Why can't debate go electronic?  Why couldn't many debates operate via telecasts?  I know this isn't as good, but still, why not?  In fact, this would allow much more flexibility in scheduling, and perhaps improve the critiques and feedback from judges.  There is a veritable marketplace of ideas in this that could work.
  2)  Why doesn't debate do what all other undergrad/grad educational enterprises do- seek National Academy monies?  Why can't the major debate orgs lobby for developmental/diversification support in such a crucial educational area?  We all know that participation in debate, especially research-oriented debate, probably is worth as much as the liberal arts core summed together.  A healthy national emphasis on social/public policy at the undergrad level is worth it.  I think this might could be sold to legislators, or the Academy.
  Thank you very much for putting up with me,
  I appreciate your reading my message.

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