[eDebate] topic meeting notes

Eric M. Slusher Eric.M.Slusher
Wed May 31 12:00:09 CDT 2006

mostly a narrative of this morning's session.  Hopefully someone else will take over for me later.

Semi-live blogging at:  http://cedatopic.blogspot.com/

Web-cast at :  http://www.kckcc.edu/


Morning session ? 

Areas under consideration for the 2006-2007 topic.

1. Latin America (Mike Davis) 
2. Military Reform (Olney)
3. Middle East ? Iran, Iraq, etc.
4. Global Poverty/Infectious Disease
5. US policy toward genocide (Ben Voth)
6. US policy toward South Asia
7. Immigration (Sue Peterson)
8. Executive Authority (Stables)

Committee would like to narrow this list down to 6 or so.  Committee would like to get people to write papers for these areas (on issues in which papers are not yet written.  Areas with papers are posted on the blog).  Most of those papers are simply introductory wording papers and would need additional work.  Just because it has an author listed doesn't mean there isn't a need for paper volunteers.  March 1, 2007 is the target date for completion of these papers.

Re: Latin America ? Davis says it may be more accurately described as a "South America" paper.
Mancuso and Olney think the sense of the community may be that there is broad support for a Latin America topic.

Re: Military reform ? paper is available on the cedatopic.blogspot.com site.  More about human resources rather than hardware.  Mostly about troop overstretch.

Re: Mid East ? timely, obvi

Re: Poverty/Disease ? needs a paper.

Re: Genocide ? paper is on the blog.  

Re: South Asia ? Pakistan, GWOT issues could be included.

Re: Immigration ? a year from now may be a great time to debate immigration.  Paper is a year old.  Needs to be updated depending on congressional action.

Re: Exec Authority ? if this year's topic doesn't end up including much on exec power then it would be worth revisiting next year.

Committee is open to new area ideas too.

Galloway thinks the mid-east topic could be more about iran and non-prolif and anti-Americanism.  Or it could be more of a geographic area topic that would include israel.

Latin America topic could include Demo Promo issues as well as anti-Americanism, etc.

It was pointed out that perhaps we should consider topics that haven't been done before in high school or college in order to explore "new" areas.

No additional areas were suggested.  Therefore the committee is inclined to narrow the list down.

It was suggested that students undertake paper writing as part of an independent study in order to get academic credit.

Discussion over which topics to keep ensued.

Galloway thinks Immigration and Latin America are obvious choices to keep.

Malcolm thinks Global Poverty and Infectious Disease and South Asia leap out as obvious choices.

Both have opinions about which topic areas address issues neglected over the last 15 or so years.

Mike Davis is committed to doing Latin America but needs volunteers.  He'll be the point-person on the Latin America paper.

Stables points out that you can just work on an area (geographic or harm area).

Patrice basically volunteers the entire Military Academy debate team to work on Military Reform.

Stables is taking the lead on South Asia.  He's the guy to work with on that area paper.

Galloway is taking the lead on Immigration.

Darren Elliot is working on Global Poverty/Infectious Disease.

Mancuso is doing Middle-East.

Kelly Young is doing the genocide area.

These people will need your help.  They will be seeking your help and will gladly accept volunteers.  If you are interested in an area contact the point-person on that area.

Oh, and the list was NOT narrowed down to 6.

Next item ? 

Philosophical role of the topic committee.

Does the committee see itself as a group that exercises judgment over a narrow range of topics it thinks are best?  Or do they craft a wider range of topics to maximize voter choice?

What do people think about this?

Massey thinks that the people that get to vote and the people in this room do not represent the diverse views of the community.  Patrice seems to agree to an extent ? put choices on the ballot because the voting procedure theoretically reduces the risk of vote splitting.  Galloway is urging caution using the example of security assistance to SE Asia ? looked great on paper ? but lacked depth.  Committee must carefully consider the long-term viability of the topic without necessarily being overly concerned with writing a topic for the last day of the NDT.  Stables and Massey go back and forth about how a "bad" topic is in the eye of the beholder.  Perhaps the committee goofed in putting the security assistance topic on the ballot but the voters goofed because they chose a poor topic.

Mancuso wonders how many resolutions the committee can actually write that are truly any good.  Last year the TC wrote 3 lower-quality resolutions on the last morning.  

Mancuso thinks the TC can enhance inclusivity with the cases/areas included in resolutions.  Variety in "types" of resolutions can enhance diversity.  But a diversity of issues can be included in resolutions are similar in "type."

Vik Keenan argues that resolutions cannot be worded to be all things to all people.  Resolutions can be worded in ways that make people feel the wording excludes are certain type of debate.  People get reactive, etc.  It's not just the areas in a list.  It can be the actor, action, etc.  

Galloway has come around in that he doesn't think the topic should force the aff to defend the more "conservative" positions (a la econ pressure on china, increase federal control in indian country, etc.)

There is some discussion about trying to be too ideologically narrow in topic construction.  The lit sometimes get too limited over the year.  Last year there was a lot of fighting on the TC over whether a better topic would be of the "be mean to china" variety or the "be nice to china" direction.

Mancuso thinks it was a mistake to choose the "be mean to china" direction.  Perhaps the committee shouldn't have even included these resolutions?  Does the TC have an obligation to prevent the voters from making bad choices?

Vik Keenan wonders if the TC should be the gatekeepers of these choices?

Galloway worries that a lot of people throw out ideas that seem good on the surface, but ends up without enough lit or turns out to be too broad.

Seems like there is some support out there for a broader topic.  But within that broadness there can be shifts to areas that people didn't think the topic would go ? or that there won't be much lit on both sides.

Gordie Miller wonders how the TC knows what people "really" want out of a topic?  

TC has a better sense because of more dialogue going on (edebate, blog, the vote, etc).  Obviously edebate isn't really representative.  But what do you do?  Is there some silent majority out there that has very different ideas about what they expect or desire out of a topic than maybe the TC does.

Maybe there isn't a silent majority but rather a silent plurality.  The "novice" voice maybe isn't represented on edebate, etc.  Massey thinks the cases/areas approach isn't the diversity people are looking for.

Input from students is obvi a problem.  TC had open meetings at wake, etc.  Student meeting at ceda was under attended.  Malcolm called for student input as the student rep without much luck.  TC should strive for more input but there's only so much can do.

People expect the TC to become experts and write good topics.  Expected to do the heavy lifting, etc.  Hard to get help sometimes.  Hard to find out what people "really" wanted when they voted for courts?  For instance, does the voting result indicate that people expected an "overrule" topic?  Or did they just like a SC topic more than the others?

Massey asks how many cases on a topic is too many?  50, 100, etc.

It's subjective, of course.  But Massey was trying to get them to admit that predictability itself is subjective.

Maybe the desire to craft topics based on electronic resources is itself too limiting.  Closes us off to other issues.

Ed Lee thinks competition plays an essential role.  When people prepare for a debate round they prepare with the goal of winning in mind.  The "best" topic is one that encourages students to do research on the area chosen rather than encouraging them to simply rely on process cplans, etc.  Broad topics encourage students to research generic negs rather than research the topic area itself.  A narrow topic incentivizes topic research.

Massey says narrow topics cause people to ignore the topic or not research it or whatever.  Generics are inevitable on narrow topics too.

Maffie thinks a broader topic could force people to argue things they don't want to argue also.  Have to go neg against a wider array of cases.

If we value diversity and inclusion in debate does the topic itself have a role to play in that?

Morning BREAK!

mid-morning ? 

a lot of people have been doing a lot of work.  The chair will give an update as to where the TC stands.

This committee decided a year ago that a legal topic would be good for our students.  This idea really started at the NCA meeting 3 years ago.  We tried at that point to build support for a legal topic.  There was widespread student opposition at first.  Coaches tended to be for it and students tended to be against it.  Student resistance has declined somewhat after the reasoning was explained.  We neglect to debate domestic policy sometimes.  Could debate about things that effect our students' lives.  Many go to law school, etc.  Perhaps these issues touch people personally.  Privacy, civil rights, abortion, right to die, etc.

The TC and helpers have invested a lot of time recently we have a pretty good base of knowledge of cases in the following areas:

Abortion ? not just Roe but PP vs. Casey
Aff Action ? have good reports on Michigan
Capital Punishment ? Gregg v. Georgia 
Property Rights ? Imminent Domain ? includes race issues
Exec Authority ? prez power in GWOT.  We've searched recent and older cases.
Federalism ? US v. Morrison (VAWA)
Pornography ? anti-porn regs as a 1st amendment issue.
Religious Freedom ? affects our community in a number of ways.  Not a totally secular community. 
Right to Die ? assisted suicide.  Aff could establish a constitutional right to die ? let states allow physician assisted suicide.
School Deseg ? Milikin v. Bradley.  Aff could overrule Milikin to make it easier for courts to force deseg.
School Drug Testing ? BofE vs. Earles (compulsory testing for extra-curricular) aff could reverse mandatory testing, etc.
Search, seizure, miranda

Stefan will serve as bidirectionality enforcement officer.

Lots of advantage areas to work through in next two days.

Besides the approach of listing cases there are other approaches to talk about.  These ideas are not as fleshed-out but will be talked about tonight.

Mahoney's idea to strike-down legislative or executive acts.

Warner's landmark cases idea.

Vats idea about "fundamental rights"

Harrison has a paper about plenary power ? have the Court weaken the govts plenary power (immigration, etc)  Harrison also has the "tests" idea.

Repko has provided an argument for only doing a list of cases.  But should they have a unifying theme?

Do we want the aff to take the liberal or conservative side?  We can look at the topic from the position of govt vs. citizens.  We might be able to come up with enough 1st amendment cases to just have a rez with 1st amend cases.

Will talk about these issues tonight.  After lunch we'll get into these areas one-by-one.  Presentations will be made by those that have done the work.  Get through all the SC cases by the end of the day.  

Then we can figure out the alternative approaches (alternatives to listing cases).  Need to decide tonight if we want to just list cases or have alternative approaches.  And unifying themes of topics.

We could benefit from a discussion about the cases before we decide on whether the case listing approach is good or bad.

Lunch break 'till 1:15pm CDT

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