Spmancuso at aol.com Spmancuso
Fri Apr 7 08:16:04 CDT 2006

A couple of clarifications about the new rule.

First it has been alleged that this rule "will allow a school like 
Northwestern to bring an unlimited number of undergraduate researchers to the 

The rule limits undergraduate workers to those who are academically eligible, 
attend the school for which they are working, and have debated 15 rounds that 
year.  Even large programs like Emory, Harvard, Northwestern etc. have a 
relatively small number of undergraduates who meet these standards, especially 
once you subtract out the debates who qualify for the tournament.   Further, 
large squads typically are "larger" than others because of younger debaters - 
exactly the kind whose research will have relatively less impact on winning 
debates at the NDT.  Finally, if a debate program trains a large number of 
undergraduates (4-5?) to be able to accomplish round-winning research at the NDT that 
should be celebrated.

The rule was redesigned over the past year to prioritize undergraduate 
research over non-undergraduate research deliberately in response to the feedback 
members of the committee received from most of you that a "worker rule" should 
not unduly limit the educational experience of the NDT for undergraduates, and 
also that it should not discourage the team-mate-style bonding of 
undergraduates.  Presumably these values are less important for their teachers - certainly 
the AFA code of ethics implies that.

It has also been stated that directors will have to tell their GTA's that 
they "aren't allowed to coach at the NDT."  

This was probably just a slip in language, but indicates a point worth 
making.  The rule does not prevent anyone from coaching at the NDT, as generally 
thought of.  It regulates research and the writing of arguments.  A school could 
still bring 10 coaches who scout, brainstorm, think of arguments, and pass 
those arguments along verbally to debaters.  Schools with huge coaching staffs 
will still have their, apparently obligatory, advantage over schools who don't.

[As a sidenote, the NCAA explicitly regulates the number of coaches that a 
school can have in every sport, from fencing to football, all year long.   The 
way we organize debate is a distinct anomaly.]

The juxtaposition of the arguments: (1) this rule is unmatched biopower, 
reaching into the director's bedroom; and (2) the AFA code of ethics, to which we 
are bound, goes further and prohibits all coach research, is certainly 
interesting.  The second clearly answers the first.

Would people advancing these two arguments have any points left to make if 
the rule had instead stipulated zero non-undergraduate workers instead of 2?  I 
know there are several people on the NDT committee - directors of large 
programs - who would support zero for pedagogical purposes.

[The rule never did really regulate what directors/coaches can do in their 
rooms.  It basically regulated what research and arguments teams can use in the 
tournament.  A non-designated coach can sit in her/his room and cut cards and 
write arguments all night, the debaters just can't use them.  This is 
parallel, for instance, to the NDT rule that prohibits fabricated evidence.  Does that 
rule also reach into the director's bedroom at night, preventing her/him from 
fabricating evidence?  Well, no, it just says the team can't use it in an 
actual round.  The NDT committee is certainly authorized to neutrally regulate 
evidence/arguments used in a debate round at the NDT.]

Overall -- we need to keep some perspective on this rule.  

It does not threaten the advantages (inequities) that accumulate all year 
that benefit schools with big coaching staffs and squads in being able to amass 
larger files going in to the NDT compared to their smaller counterparts.  

It does not threaten the advantatges (inequities) that accumulate all year 
that benefit schools with big budgets for travel, scholarships, and supplies.

It does not threaten the advantages (inequities) that accumulate all year 
that benefit schools with large coaching staffs that can judge more practice 
debates, hear more speech re-works, review more debater research, and have more 
meetings with debaters.

Schools that are endowed with large coaching staffs and budgets throughout 
the year still bring these massive advantages with them to the NDT. 

What this rule does do is tell a relatively small group of people that for 
three or four days (out of 365) they can't research or write arguments.  

In the larger scheme of things it represents a relatively small step to make 
the NDT fairer for everyone, and that was its purpose.

Steve Mancuso

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