[eDebate] Program, Stability and Community.

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Thu Apr 20 09:17:01 CDT 2006


We all know the problems with program attrition, rising prices, increasing
demands, and other conditions of running a debate program in the midst of
even good economic times. What we are seeing now may be the beginning of
some very badness even if the economy doesnt continue to perform badly for
debate teams, or perhaps like the  bush administrations climate scientists
it may just be a natural fluctuation. What ever the case is (and I am glad
we are studying to know more concrete answers) I want to take this time to
share with you some the things we here in Baltimore are working on. I wear
many hats in this discussion, BUDL Middle School Coordinator, Towson
Volunteer coach, not so young debate contrarian, but as I present these
ideas I'm not really wearing any of them ?Towson will be following up with
official details shortly but?

Baltimore as many of you know is a large urban center and Towson is the only
college amongst nearly a dozen colleges within the city limits which has a
policy team, yet because of the astonishing success of the Baltimore Urban
Debate League high school program there are dozens if not hundreds of former
policy debaters spread around the city. However, as these students try to
start up programs at the their schools they are faced with the daunting task
of getting at least 5000 dollars and probably a lot more worth of
administrative or sga buy in before they can even think about debating at
tournament. Years go by and great debaters who where going to start teams at
strong urban universities are stifled by the mere fact that even playing
will cost them more than most clubs ever get.

Meanwhile a team like Towson finds itself stretched to the breaking point
while trying to maintain a regional travel schedule and emerge into the now
necessary national circuit.

Here are some things that will happen here.

Towson in the first year will provide the 1)tournament structure for a local
no frills ceda sanctioned college debate circuit with 4 ceda sanctioned
tournaments 2) A free debate cooperative in the summer for students at local
Baltimore collges

1) Viable local tournament structure-

The first of these will be a one day workshop followed by a one day
tournament it will be 4 rounds and will be ceda sanctioned. We would like
folks to come and bring novices and new jv students to this. This will
probably be after kings or perhaps earlier in September. Throughout the year
there will be three other tournaments that will be 6 round-two day
tournaments (with at least two divisions) with appropriate outrounds. All of
these tournaments will be ceda sanctioned, and one at least may be ADA
sanctioned.

After this year I would like Towson to host one of these and others to be
hosted at other schools in Baltimore

It is my fundamental belief that those of us in urban areas like this one
must (3.00 a gallon gas = must) form local debate alternatives, we must
dedicate energy and resources to supporting the other schools in our city,
not just for our city or the other schools, but because if current trends
continue we will in order to compete we will need to have nearly zero cost
tournaments that we can attend without having to 1) rent cars and drive them
hundreds of miles over the course of weekends 2) rent multiple hotel rooms
3) pay rising entry fees 4) all of the other expenses associated with
driving people hundreds of miles, the key thing we can do is run and support
local tournaments, if there is a viable competitive local tournament
structure between philly and dc then it will be much easier to allow the
cities programs the ability to debate while getting their funding.

This does not mean Towson is leaving "the region" Towson will be supporting
the region still attending many "ada & district 7" tournaments but also will
be supporting the introduction of new teams and tournaments into the region
and the district.

Personally I would love it if other people who where not in our area came to
these tournaments, but that is not a necessary condition of this
arrangement. This arrangement is for our locality, and if our locality is
exciting for you and works in your schedule then by all means join us in the
growth of our "region" , but we believe we need to grow debate in this area
regardless of external support and will do so.

Now as a middle school coordinator can I tell you how wonderful it will be 5
years down the road when there are several viable policy debate teams in the
city and there are hundreds of judges available to guide the process by
which I teach?.the high school and the middle school leagues are perhaps the
biggest beneficiaries of the move to create local debate alternatives
because it will mean that there are currently active judges and coaches
integrating debate into all parts of students experience if they
want?.student from the budl , from the local cfl league from dc from
Delaware from philly who have and want debate experience go to colleges that
don't have debate teams, we are gonna help them build them by providing a
low cost tournament structure that the motivated ones can easily build
around.

I could give you a list of 50 to a 100 schools but this year im gonna try to
get the following schools to tournaments

1) Morgan state University

2) Coppin state University

3) University of Baltimore

4) Baltimore International College

5) Maryland-College Park

6) Baltimore City Community College

7) Johns Hopkins University

8) Temple University

9) Delaware State Uuniversity

10) University of Maryland Baltimore County

11) Bowie State University

12) Sojurner Douglas College

I'm leaving plenty of viable programs off and I believe that in 5 years each
of these programs can be ceda attendees, next year id like to get them to
join and compete.

2) We will be running a free debate cooperative at Towson university august
14^th -19^th

There will be no housing. We will compile evidence sets, do original
research, develop skills and share team building strategies, you are free to
come work with us and if you want a list of local hotels and campgrounds I
can get one. We encourage folks to join us in this inaugural Baltimore
debate coop and to look for news about expanded coops in the future.

3)Organizing and doing a lot of stuff-

My vision is that ten years from now Maryland will be the debate state that
it can be, that thriving local competitive debate circuits will exist at the
middle school, high school, college, and pro and peoples levels, that
several big state universities where hundreds of budl and other Baltimore
city school graduates go to college will have debate scholarships masters
programs and fully funded faculty jobs. To me this isn't just about debate
and increasing meaningful participation in debate it is also about material
increases in educational opportunities and professional opportunities for
students not just in Baltimore city or in Maryland but for any students that
might want to come to these programs once they are established.

The undertaking will be daunting, but there will be a lot of us working and
the process if it works will be an example of how local debate can be built
and sustained while preserving the benefits of rigorous policy competition
without the necessary budgetary outlays.

One note we are not trying to run these programs we are trying to help
student run programs develop grassroots strategies to develop their own
teams, we are also making connections with local alums professors and grad
students building a network of support and we aim to work on the higher end
to help support students writing proposals establishing finding
justifications etc. The we is multiples, some times it means towson,
sometimes it means concerned folks in Baltimore, sometimes it means we
hoping there will be others helping.

This is not a panacea it will not solve all of Baltimore's or debates
problems, and there are potential pitfalls, but for us here in Baltimore
this is the best way to make college debate sustainable and viable for as
many schools and students as possible, and when you see our tournaments
start to emerge remember that out of the despair of the crumbling of current
structures emerges new ideas that can inspire new ways of seeing how debate
can function.

That may be lofty rhetoric, but I am to make it come to pass and so do a
bunch of other committed people in Baltimore. Join us in making this all it
can be.

Formal invitations will be forthcoming and more information will be posted
here, im available for discussion, thanks for reading three pages
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