[eDebate] Please Read. The implications of bad resolutions ondebate programs

Danielle Verney daisy_verney
Thu May 24 12:06:07 CDT 2007

This just doesn't make much sense to me.  I understand that there is some 
harm in an aesthetically unpleasing wording of the resolution - and all 
other things held equal a more elegant wording would be better.   BUT all 
other things aren't held equal - the reason the committee used a legalistic 
topic wording choice is it creates a more precise resolution - less 
suscesptible to squirrely affs outside of the controversy and less prone to 
niggling T debates.
Also, I would argue that the harm of imprecise resolutions outweighes the 
ugliness of wordy resolutions.  The resolution is the T limit - so it has to 
control debates -- BUT the resolution is not how you have to advertise - so 
you can avoid the ugliness harms by telling people they are going to debate 
CE to various ME governments; true enough for recruitment purposes - and 
they are going to have to get into far more gritty specifics when they learn 
to debate anyways than the wordy topic - so no harm no foul.

Line by line below.

>Resolutions matter. I was asked to take over a university debate program 
>Fall and switch it over from Parlimentary/Public Debate/I.E. to an NDT/CEDA
>policy debate program. This means I am having to start over from scratch, 
>having to convice students who have done one form of debate to start doing
>policy. Or, I have to recruit from either the student body at large or from 
>argumentation classes.
>The resolution matters. It matters a lot to a coach of a small or new 
>Looking at this morass, I am seriously considering holding off switching to
>policy debate for at least a year.  There is little chance of me recruiting
>students if I have to give them one of these resolutions as the starting 
>of there debate odessey. If this continues, I guess I will just suck it up 
>keep one less program in the South (and now absolutely NONE in the entire 
>of Louisiana, and there used to be at least five)from doing policy debate, 
>many of you may enjoy, but I find rather tragic. Simply put, there is more 
>one way for people to vote. I think some program directors will simply vote
>with their feet.

So start a little bit vaguer = and then work on the specifics - its not like 
the proposed resolutions are substantially different than your proposed 
resolution of increase CE to ME gov't X - they just require security 
guarantees or foreign assistance - hardly a big difference.

>I have thought long and hard this week about the logistics of a small 
>trying to grapple with these resolutions. Other than running the same 
>every round, I just do not see how a small or new program (read one coach, 
>than 8 debaters) can even begin to compete at the NOVICE level with these
>resolutions. It would take me an entire year just to get my Israel file
>together (with all the link stories, c-plans and answers, etc.) and I have 
>in policy debate for over 20 years!

And your resolution below would have solved the Israel problem how? (other 
than Afghanistan affs).  The Israel problem is inevitable on this 
controversy area; anything done in the region impacts Israel - and the 
Israel debate is complex.  You're going to have to deal with it.  
Nonetheless, I think your substantially overestimating how hard it will be 
to cope with the Israel debate - AND any good topic is going to have complex 
areas that you have to get into - the Genetics topic would have avoided 
thrusting novices into complex debates with TONS of lit and different links, 
CPs, and answers how?  Having debated novice on the sanctions topic which 
included Syria, Iraq, and Iran I think novices can deal with the Israel 
debate on this topic.

>Would the following resolution have been so bad?:
>"Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should substnatially
>increase constructive engagement with Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, or

This is dramatically different from topic 1 how? (other than the Egypt for 
P.A. switch)  Rez 1 avoids the stupid reading of "or" as disjunctive - 
requiring the aff to do only 1 country and not more than 1.  Yes that 
reading is poor, and you should be able to beat it - but not always - and 
its a dumb T debate to have.  And then Rez 1 requires that you include 
either a security guarantee OR foreign assistance - which seems to be just a 
check on truly minimal affs that would have a CE of a little bit nicer 
diplomacy only.  These two changes make Rez 1 a little more wordy, but at 
the gain of some real improvements in precision.  Your right lay people - 
would just say your Rez - but you don't have to jump into specifics at the 
very beggining.
The other rez's make small modifications in topic size/focus - but are other 
wise the same.

>Is this example of a straight forward resolution something I could go to my 
>department chair, recite from memory and explain? Yes. Is this something I
>could recite from memory and explain the a freshman college student in
>Louisiana? Absolutely! Could I build a new program based on it? I believe 

Why do you need to explain the entire rez from the start?  You can explain 
the core of the rez from memory - and get into details when necessary -- its 
not like the details betray the summary - just clarify it.

>I just do not understand why every year the resolutions get worse and 
>They are all hypertechnical, poorly written, and just plain bad. My 
>are that either the system of resolution writing is horribly flawed, or the
>people who write them have a flaw, or both. I think we have too many topic
>committte members with their "debater" hats on when they write these
>resolutions, rather than having their "debate coach" and "program director"
>hats on. Worse, they forget that there are multiple target audiences for 
>year's debate resolutions.

How was last years rez hypertechnical?  And I admit that the rez is not good 
creative writting - but I think you need to make a stronger case that it 
needs to be.  What these rez's succeed at it is being pretty precise as to 
what they would and would not include.  This makes it easier for noivces as 
you have a better idea the actual aff's they will face.

>Currently, and rather obviously, the only audience targeted this year was 
>most elite of the policy debaters, only those who have been steeped in 
>policy debates for the past six years. I think that novices, students who 
>students in argumentation classes, new programs, small programs, program
>directors who are searching for more support from their administration, and
>former debaters who would like to watch a debate round, have been ignored. 
>truly breaks my heart to look at these resolutions and to feel totally
>alienated from an activity I love and believe to be an important teaching 

This is ridiculous.  Former debaters who would like to watch a round are 
going to be hurt by a legalistic resolution as opposed to a one sentence 
one?  Wow are the former debaters you know fragile people!  As to admins and 
new debaters see above.

>When people start commenting, the responses have been basically that no
>community input will be considered--too late, topic committee has met, you 
>take these resolutions, whether you like them or not. No, I do not have to 

YES!  There is a tight window for when this has to get done.  No one has 
time before the NDT.  Students are leaving like right now, and we might want 
to consult with them before they are out of touch for the whole summer.  You 
can't do it a whole extra year before because its too far out for many 
people's attention spans, and God only knows what could happen to muck up 
the topic area in that much time.  So in between the NDT and late May we 
need to pick a slate of topics, give people time to think, vote, and then 
pick a slate of rezs, and give people time to think and vote - thats 
necessarily going to be somewhat tigh.  Despite these constraints the 
committee was very open to suggestions - just because people disagreed with 
you and you lost out doesn't mean you weren't heard!  (e.g. I'm still 
nervous about Afghanistan - but its clear that the committee considered it, 
did more research on it than I have time to do, and came out the other way, 
they may be wrong - they are probably right (they are all really smart!) - 
but they certainly did everything they could).  If you bitch now it really 
is to late.  Your concerns aren't necessarily everyone's concerns - and they 
might be difficult to deal with - so people would have to meet, research, 
work, and discuss how to meet them.  There isn't any more time for that - so 
yes, your bitching is not constructive, you should probably focus on what 
resolution of the 4 works best for you and persuading others - or much more 
politely trying to come up with feasible ways to make the process preferable 
to you in the future.

>We were thinking of hosting a rebirth of the Mardi Gras tournament for 
>debate in the Spring. Now, I don't think we will even be in the policy 
>form of forensics for at least a year. The only other option I see is to 
>start a
>new organization, al la CEDA in the 1970's, as an alternative form of 
>debate geared toward small programs; teaching college students policy and 
>debate with a limited, but necessary research focus; and regional debate.
>Sadly, this is what CEDA used to be.

This slate of resolutions isn't bad - and hyperbole doesn't make them so.  
If you really think gramatically simpler resolutions make for easier to 
research debates I guess you should explain why and try to sell people on it 
for future topics; but its really unclear how you avoid the Israel debate 
you complain about here by making the topic less wordy.  I don't think the 
rez is a barrier to regional debate - ADA boy that I am, I think you should 
have stricter/smaller rezes that are more easily grabbed on to by novices.

>I normally do not put my title or credentials at the bottom of my e-mail 
>because I would rather people look at the argument rather than the 
>But today I will.
>Scott M. Elliott, Ph.D., J.D.
>Assistant Professor and Director of Forensics
>University of Lousiana-Lafayette

Tom O'Gorman (husband of Danielle), J.D.
Volunteer Assistant Coach USNA

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