[eDebate] Towson Rocks: Institutionalizing Program Development Ideas

Ceda2vp at cs.com Ceda2vp
Wed Apr 26 14:11:23 CDT 2006

I agree with Chief that the discussion of late about program retention and 
expansion is heartening.  I spoke with Andy about what folks were working on 
down there during CEDA Nationals and was thoroughly impressed. It points to a 
powerful lesson.  One concerned debate alum had a vision for expanding debate 
opportunities.  He convinced some other folks and soon they had a plan to add a 
bunch of schools. The Associated Leaders of Urban Debate (ALOUD) will do what 
we can to support this work. 

For some regions the Towson initiative would represent a doubling or tripling 
of participation.   Maybe they have inspired others to follow suit.  If you 
are motivated and just need to figure out who is in your area, a directory of 
colleges by state is available many places including these websites: 

Some of you won't even need that because you know 1 or 2 schools nearby.  
Call someone ( a dean, a former colleague who's at the school, the head of 
student activities, a HEOP coordinator, or the president's office).  Maybe you'll 
get lucky and they were just looking for a way in.  

Not sure if I will be at the summer meeting but thought Jake's call to 
institutionalize made sense.  I've gone back through suggestions made over the past 
three years in this forum and elsewhere and distilled six primary approaches 
about how to build, maintain and expand programs:

a) connecting to university mission (referencing strategic plans & 
departmental objectives, event positioning for tournaments, debate across the 
curriculum, communicating successes, involving relevant campus departments in topic 
selection or research opportunities, and alternatively avoiding running an 
insular, disconnected program)

b) developing core support networks (building an alumni base, identifying 
allies in administration & student government, encourage debaters to speak out on 
campus and be involved in other activities, activate public relations 
efforts, be self-aware about our status and understand why some programs have decided 
to make changes)

c) reducing costs (lowering fee structures, hotel expenses, travel expenses, 
alternative formats like the Towson initiative, regional assistance to new and 
student-run programs, transparency about costs so directors can factor that 
into scheduling choices)

d) "case" statements (defending the value of what we do, translating it into 
language acceptable to the outside world, having portfolios of statements by 
university presidents, take steps to insure director stability, provosts and 
others indicating benefits of debate for their schools, empirical study of 
accomplishments of alumni, supporting updating the Parcher study  and conducting 
other research to quantify the involvement of debate, information-sharing about 
how others have built solid foundations and what types of statistics work) 

e) formalizing outreach to feeder programs (high school  and middle school 
recruitment, increased presence at community colleges, involvement with urban 
debate communities,  support of National Public Policy Forum, judge training 
workshops to increase enthusiasm and local pools) 

f) utilizing natural media opportunities (sponsoring electoral debates for 
local, state and federal contests, partnering with other organizations that are 
tied to the current debate topic or an issue of interest, hosting or 
performing public debates on controversial issues, researching, appear on TV shows and 
identifying former debaters in your area, provide recognition for luminaries 
that connect them to debate [like Debate/Speaker of the Year Awards to a person 
of note], maintaining media contact lists). 

Are there others?   

If we could put together a Top Ten Strategy List and figure out which 
programs are employing which strategies that might help frame the discussion at the 
Summer Meeting on Program Development and potentially lead to usable outcomes.  
The other issue is how to share that information afterwards.  At ALOUD, we 
created for our partners, an expertise locator 
(http://www.debateleaders.org/locater.html) so that folks who were interested in learning how to start an urban 
debate league, introduce debate into middle schools, be involved in prison 
debates, fundraise, etc. would be able to contact local partners directly and 
get their thoughts.  Perhaps, the CEDA website could use a similar track for 
programs thinking about starting, looking to expand or wanting to be ahead of the 
curve in protecting their future.  

Peace & Justice,

Will Baker
Executive Director 
Associated Leaders of Urban Debate (ALOUD)

             YOUR VOICE.        YOUR FUTURE.            DEBATE.
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