[eDebate] Time to Review the Merger

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Fri Jun 9 14:45:18 CDT 2006

Per-round costs (transportation, entry fees, food, lodging, and hired judging) for most "average" to "above-average" programs that responded to my post on CEDA-L last month are in the neighborhood of $80 to $125  (national circuit participation and geographic isolation tended to push schools to the higher end).  In a couple of cases, they were as high as $300 per round.  At even the lower rates, $20,000 is the minimum buy-in for reasonable regional travel.  We need to find a way to reduce per-round costs for MOST tournaments to under $40 for established programs and under $20 for new programs.  Initiatives like what Towson is doing are a start, but all of us need to be creative.  Ask yourself if there aren't more schools that would do policy debate if you could start out regionally with a volunteer coach from the faculty who takes 4 teams to each of 8 tournaments for under $6,000.  It can be done if we are creative, and it will mean that the remaining regional tournaments will be much larger.  I'm hearing great things from different parts of the country on this.
--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
P.S.  A shameless plug:  an established school should be able to bring 4 teams to our September tournament for under $600.  They'll get 7 rounds of debate for each team (one more than usual for the weaker teams) and all the usual amenities except fancy trophies and sweepstakes points.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: matt stannard<mailto:stannardmatt at hotmail.com> 
  To: jbhdb8 at gmail.com<mailto:jbhdb8 at gmail.com> ; delliott at kckcc.edu<mailto:delliott at kckcc.edu> 
  Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> ; Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu<mailto:Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu> 
  Sent: Friday, June 09, 2006 2:16 PM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] Time to Review the Merger

  If I may offer a non-scientific preview of the survey responses I have 

  Programs have left for four main reasons:

  1. Perceived budgetary expenses of NDT/CEDA debate as opposed to 
  parliamentary debate.
  2. Decline of regional travel opportunities, feeding #1.
  3. Simple lack of interest on the part of their students, tied to the 
  perception that the work requirements of NDT/CEDA debate are next to 
  impossible for students who either work or are involved in other academic 
  4. Theoretical/ideological opposition to the communication practices of 
  NDT/CEDA debate (this was not listed nearly as much as the other three; the 
  majority of directors who have abandoned NDT/CEDA say they love it and 
  wished they could have kept doing it).


  >From: "Josh Hoe" <jbhdb8 at gmail.com<mailto:jbhdb8 at gmail.com>>
  >To: "Darren Elliott" <delliott at kckcc.edu<mailto:delliott at kckcc.edu>>
  >CC: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com>, Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu<mailto:Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu>
  >Subject: Re: [eDebate] Time to Review the Merger
  >Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2006 13:40:59 -0400
  >The only disagreement I can see in the Cheif's post is the one I pre-empted
  >about the merger causing the decline of regional debate.
  >CEDA was moving toward an entirely NDT style prior to the merger....The
  >merger did NOT cause the decline in programs...Programs were dying and
  >regional circuits were dying in CEDA PRIOR to the merger....One of the 
  >arguments for the merger at the time was to ARREST decline.  The 
  >region was the CEDA version of the Emory/Wake/West Ga/Kentucky etc region -
  >if you didnt travel to the Mid America district in the last 7 years of CEDA
  >qua CEDA you had NO chance at CEDA nationals.
  >I was one of the last people to make the transition (ASU did an entirely
  >CEDA schedule the first pseudo merger year) and I was a CEDA officer and 
  >VERY active through this whole period.  It is just patently false to 
  >that prior to the merger CEDA was this idyllic romantic past you suggest.
  >I have suggested this before...Most, if not all, of the reasons debate is
  >dying is not a result of the merger...It is the result first and foremost 
  >increased travel costs.  In addition, many programs left entirely or did
  >Parli because they hated the style of debate that was becoming prominant in
  >CEDA PRIOR to the merger.  The style popularized by schools such as Emporia
  >(you), UCO (me), SIU at the end (Jack) etc.
  >Finally, I have gotten a crash course in the last four years of just how
  >hard it is to keep a debate program running without University support.  
  >major problems across the board for most schools who try to debate is
  >terrible debate is and how many programs we are losing but many of the
  >problems we all face are created externally.  My fear is, in our haste to 
  >something radical to return to a past that no longer exists, we will make
  >the problems worse not better.
  >I know I am somehwat of a muckraker in this forum but please realize that
  >the one thing we do have is each other...If we start choosing sides and
  >dividing up again we are only going to have two seperate, smaller, and more
  >rapidly dying groups of college debaters.
  >The best thing we can do is SHARE our success stories....How did Dr. Warner
  >generate University support, how did the teams with lots of money get to be
  >teams with lots of money, how does Jack get support at OU, etc etc
  >etc.....How can you justify what we do to administrators
  >successfully.....How can you create revenue streams outside the University
  >budgeting process.  We may not agree on how debate should look but we are
  >resources for each others continued survival.  Cutting off whole sections 
  >such resources seems to me, at best, short sighted.
  >On 6/9/06, Darren Elliott <delliott at kckcc.edu<mailto:delliott at kckcc.edu>> wrote:
  >>I am working on the wordings that Tim presented as per the Topic Cmte
  >>deliberations and dont have time for a long dive into this but Andy's post
  >>was an outgrowth of a conversation at the CEDA summer meetings.  I think 
  >>has merit.  I do want to comment on a couple things Josh says below.  We
  >>have different perspectives I think that are worth noting.
  >> >>> "Josh Hoe" <jbhdb8 at gmail.com<mailto:jbhdb8 at gmail.com>> 06/08/06 11:17 PM >>>
  >>JH:  Sure, I suspect it would be easy to make sure the NDT no longer
  >>debated the
  >>CEDA topic...just go back to two value topics a year.  That would do it
  >>ME:  I agree.  Hypothetically if programs would flood back to evidence
  >>based debate would it be worth it?
  >>JH:  Not really sure what Andy's argument is....A team can still travel
  >>exclusively a CEDA schedule, still attend CEDA nationals only, still set
  >>CEDA regional or overall points championships as the squad goal.  What
  >>exactly are you saying?  No program is forced to debate at traditionally
  >>tournaments or at the NDT.  Any program still has exactly the same choices
  >>open to them as they did when I debated CEDA.
  >>ME:  Depends on the team doesnt it?  For some the "CEDA schedule" they
  >>once knew is a thing of the past.  As regional debate died in parts of the
  >>country the ability to travel a CEDA schedule dies as well.  Some programs
  >>have the same choices available--not all do.  And I would wager to say 
  >>of the CEDA programs that existed when you debated CEDA have gone the way 
  >>the T-Rex.
  >>JH:  So, whats left, if the above is true, is the topic...and that is
  >>voted for
  >>by the CEDA membership and written by elected CEDA leadership members.
  >>ME:  Not that simple.  The topic is the one thing that unified the two
  >>mostly, I agree with Gary on that point and with you on that point.  
  >>that was a major factor in many schools leaving.  That led to a decline in
  >>Regional debate in many regions.  So others had to choose between leaving 
  >>changing their squad focus entirely.  The merger didnt just change the 
  >>process.  There are many things it allowed/caused/led to.  The topic 
  >>came first.  And the topics are certainly different.  From my perspective
  >>they are better.  But others disagree.  And instead if hearing those 
  >>we just keep pushing them to the margins.
  >>JH:  Guess I am being somewhat purposefully obtuse but for a
  >>point...rarely was
  >>there really an ideal romantic past and hardly ever can it be returned to.
  >>ME:  If losing over 100 programs in the past 15 years isnt romantic enough
  >>then maybe nothing can convince folks that we have an obligation to look 
  >>where we were and where we are now.  Gary is right, institutionally we
  >>really should do this from time to time.
  >>JH:  What you are really arguing, I suspect, is that you wish more people
  >>supported a less national circuit approach so that there was more viable
  >>regional debate all over the country.  The lack of this is NOT the fault
  >>the merger...It was happening at the end of traditional CEDA before the
  >>ME:  Was it happening on the same scale?  Really?  That isnt my
  >>recollection.  Even if it was, CEDA's Natl circuit tournaments are now
  >>barely able to make it as Regional tournaments.  CEDA's natl. tournaments
  >>were the Jesuit qualifiers.  Now S. Carolina and UMSL are gone.  Emporia 
  >>UCO are Regional tournaments.  The Pacific Northwest is down to 2-3 
  >>total much less a large Natl tournament drawing many teams.
  >>I will conclude with my example from CEDA Mid-American Region/NDT
  >>D3.  Prior to the merger CEDA's top programs in this area of the world 
  >>SMS, ESU, UMKC, UCO, and K-State.  They all held big tournaments too.  
  >>of us really had to travel out of the Region even though a few did but on
  >>occasion.  Not to the extent they do now.  The merger brought into the 
  >>some NDT powerhouses we never encountered before.  It brought us face to
  >>face with KU, Baylor, Texas, and N. Texas.  KU and Baylor also had huge
  >>tournaments.  But then the chase was on.  To keep up at districts we had 
  >>go where those schools were going all year.  So the bid chase was on.  
  >>flocked from the District.  As a result all of those big tournaments
  >>decreased in size.  The burdens mounted and yes a year long topic also
  >>brought burdens.   Regional programs disappeared.  Gone were NEMO, MOSO,
  >>UMSL, Webster, SLU, CMSU, SMU, Central Methodist, Cameron, NOC, WJC and 
  >>knows how many more I cant remember off the top of my head.  All those
  >>schools leaving meant even more teams now not coming to the Regional
  >>tournaments.  And the cycle goes on and on.  Was the merger the sole
  >>reason?  Not likely.  Did we do what was necessary to preserve identity 
  >>preserve programs?  Absolutely not.  Shame on us.  A look back is not only
  >>necessary but prudent and hopefully not too late.
  >>Darren Elliott
  >>Director of Debate--KCKCC
  >>CEDA 2nd VP
  >>On 6/8/06, Gary Larson <Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu<mailto:Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu>> wrote:
  >> >
  >> >  Andy's call to evaluate the effects of the "merger" between CEDA and
  >> > is an important call do something that is a necessary part of
  >> > decision-making. If we're not self-reflective about the impact of
  >> > we make, we will inevitably evolve in directions that are less than
  >> >
  >> > But the final paragraph of Andy's post deserves comment.  He asks
  >> > presumably the historically CEDA part of his audience,
  >> >
  >> > "Do we still want to be a part of the NDT process? Has it paid off for
  >> > us?"
  >> >
  >> >  The irony here is that the "merger" such as it is was not a CEDA
  >> > to be part of the NDT process.  It was rather an NDT decision to be 
  >> > the CEDA process.  The watershed moment was a decision by the NDT
  >> > to adopt the CEDA topic.  The conditions for that decision - that the
  >> > be worded as a policy resolution and that there only be one topic per
  >>year -
  >> > had both been essentially already adopted by the CEDA community
  >> > of any possibility that the NDT would adopt the CEDA topic.
  >> >
  >> > As a result, the topic selection process remains uniquely a CEDA
  >> > constitutional function, even if some fret that it has been
  >>co-opted.  If
  >> > CEDA were to decide that Andy's concern is warranted and that CEDA no
  >> > wanted to be part of the NDT process, it would discover that unilateral
  >> > disengagement is impossible.  The question is not whether CEDA adopts
  >> > NDT topic - it's whether the NDT adopts the CEDA topic.  Besides topic
  >> > construction there really is no merger (other than that defined by
  >> > patterns and choices to attend one or both of the national tournaments 
  >> > a number of schools played on both sides of the street long before 
  >> > talk of a merger).
  >> >
  >> > Given a somewhat popular narrative that says that CEDA lost programs to
  >> > Parli because it capitulated to NDT, the real story is perhaps even 
  >> > interesting.
  >> >
  >> > GARY
  >> >
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