[eDebate] to be more blunt

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Tue Jul 17 12:37:04 CDT 2007

Over the years, I find that I agree with Tuna less and less.  We must be down from 99% to 85%!  

Again, I come back to the fact that there are multiple purposes to any resolution.  I think that, in the status quo, one purpose (competitive equity in national circuit debate) receives consideration to the exclusion of all others (which might include novice recruitment and retention, ability of debaters who work a significant amount for money during the school year to research the topic adequately, accessibility to administrators, parents, etc., education on the topic, and many others).  

We should also be clear that it's not just the funky left-wing types like Tuna and Jackie who want simpler resolutions and simpler debates.  If I got the oral history right, one of the main reasons for the formation of the ADA was that many of its founders (with whom I disagree on many things, but for whom I have the utmost admiration when it comes to their dedication to bringing debate to more people) didn't like the fact that most debates were about debate theory.  

I recognize that we cannot do a study right now (and that there are relatively small differences between the candidate resolutions), but I really would like to hear from other coaches who spend a good deal of time coaching novice as to their view of the impact of resolutional wording on recruitment and retention of novices.  We've heard from two of the biggies in novice debate (Tuna and Jackie) that it makes a big difference.  I believe that Sam Nelson has weighed in on that side in the past as well.  I'm curious about what others think, especially those who coach novices a lot but have a different ideology.

One last thing (and maybe Josh will respond to this):  I think it's pretty hard to refute the argument (which I heard first from Tuna) that there is, in most cases, a diminishing return to each additional year of debate.  Thus, we as guardians of the taxpayers'/administrators'/foundations' money, should increase overall utility by offering shorter periods of debate to more people.

Just some thoughts.
--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Alfred Snider<mailto:alfred.snider at uvm.edu> 
  To: Pacedebate at aol.com<mailto:Pacedebate at aol.com> ; edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 1:17 PM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] to be more blunt


  I have one of the largest policy debate teams in America. I emphasize 
  training new debaters and our success in the last few years at the 
  novice and jv levels shows we do it well.

  These resolutions are driving us out. Keep it up and there will be no 
  policy debate in Vermont, along with Maine.

  If I cannot have a novice-friendly topic, I gotta go. I left NDT because 
  it was novice-unfriendly and went to CEDA way back when. Later I 
  sponsored the motion that allowed us to debate the same topic. I thought 
  it was going to work, but it simply isn't working. These topics are a 
  nightmare for recruiting novices.

  At least six schools have spoken to me recently about this, but I will 
  not name them out of courtesy.

  I think it may be time to sever the link between CEDA and the NDT. I was 
  the sponsor of the motion that gave us a shared topic. I feel like I 
  ought to now go the other way and say we should go back to having a CEDA 
  resolution that is not necessarily policy and maybe even back to one 
  topic each semester. How about something without the USFG as the actor? 
  How about something that gives aff some flexibility to establish their 
  advocacy? How about a topic that people would be willing to follow into 

  I am very close to proposing such a motion to the CEDA membership.

  Who would come with me? Probably quite a few schools, but not so many on 
  this list. Does it matter? No, not if we can take back some of the 
  programs we have lost to parli, nfa-ld and other forms of debate such as 
  WUDC, etc. I just want something friendly for novice debaters.

  I will tell the kind of topic I would approve of. The last time I was 
  chair of the topic committee we produced:
  Resolved: that the United States should substantially change its foreign 
  policy towards Mexico. We had a nice year, no problem with researching 
  cases, people could develop a sense of real advocacy. SIU won that CEDA 
  nationals, and now they are gone from policy debate.

  Consider it.


  Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
  Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
  University of Vermont
  Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
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