[eDebate] Fwd: Some questions for my administration

Joe Patrice joepatrice
Thu Jul 19 10:12:59 CDT 2007

I'm responding to Ede's list of questions from my standpoint:

1) If 25 new programs willing to become CEDA members tomorrow if they could
debate a 10-12 word broad topic, would you reconsider your position in the
best interests of CEDA?

Response: I think anything that would bring programs in is in the best
interests of debate.  I will note for the record that I personally don't
think the key is "narrow" or "broad" per se as much as it is being "a 10-12
word...topic."  I'm not saying it has to be that short, but conceptually
simple topics are good.  Conceptually simple topics require being relatively
short and limiting the use of "debate language" as opposed to "policy
language" (i.e. if an expert reading the resolution has to ask "why is this
phrase in here" then it shouldn't be there).

2) If a general area paper won that called for either a broad topic or a
non-policy resolution, would you support an exclusive slate of topics
complying with what the paper called for?

Response: Given that the resolution voting system prevents vote splitting I
am generally against exclusive slates, though I could be compelled to
support one if there was a compelling argument (e.g. "we need a non-USFG
actor on this res because the students need to be stretched academically to
learn how to debate differently")

3) Would a compromise decision by the community to vote for a broad topic
but to enforce topicality much more stringently be acceptable to you? Could
that agreement be informal or would it need to be formalized somehow? Does
the loss of having "not debate the topic" debates reduce the topic
sufficiently enough for you to make the tradeoff manageable?

Response: I don't know if it's realistic to depend on the community to
enforce the topic that way.  But again I don't really have strong feelings
about "broad" vs. "narrow" but I do want people to affirm the resolution,
even if they do so in a non-traditional manner.

4) Why can't CEDA, who has an actual structure and organization find a way
to regulate this through it's organization? Doesn't your argument prove the
point, that all of the power of this organization has already been ceded to
CEDA, through the "run to the national circuit", etc.

Response: I think CEDA has all the benefits and drawbacks of a democratic
organization.  When other viewpoints begin to draw the support of the voting
public the process will adjust accordingly.  The committee is a consensus
body and every change in its makeup will change its results.

5) Who and what is CEDA? Part of what makes this conversation less
meaningful is that many of the pro-CEDA folks support smaller limited topic,
national circuit travel, et. So, is there a CEDA versus NDT anymore? And if
not, is there a better way to categorize our community?

Response: I don't think there is a CEDA v. NDT division but that this is
used as short-hand for the new landscape.  I think this is a multiple axis
dispute, for example: some "novice-focused" programs may like simpler topics
to help recruiting, but they internally argue over whether broad or narrow
is good, "elite-focused" programs may like very narrow and precise topics if
they debate with a focus on disads and CPs while an equally "elite" program
may want a broad bi-directional topic to allow their chosen K to work both
ways.  I think that there is no single constituency for a particular

6) If a segment of the community is frustrated with those who ignore the
topic, resulting in a move to more and more narrower topics AND there is a
segment of the community frustrated with those who overly restrict
affirmative ground (voice, etc) through narrow topics resulting in a move to
less and less engaging of the topic, why isn't the broader topic with strong
topical checks the compromise?

Response: I'm generally fine with this, though I'm opposed to making the
topic so broad as to become unlimited (some prior suggestiong have
approached that in my mind).

7) Can we identify when the NDT and CEDA have been at their strongest in
terms of participation and identify what the norms and procedures looked
like during that time period?

Response: Someone other than me probably has that data on hand.

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