[eDebate] Debating debate

Brian Huot brian.huot
Sun Nov 11 12:09:40 CST 2007

In round 6 of the Shirley Classic at Wake Forest, Leon and Phil from
Illinois and Brian and Rosie from Louisville, as well as Beth Skinner
from Towson reached an agreement not to participate and legitimize the
dominant structures of debate. Both teams and the judge agreed to
either a double win or double loss ? that neither team deserved to
solely lose because of the fundamental inequalities in today's debate
community.  The tab room at Wake Forest was understanding of our
concerns and responded with a positive attitude.  However, they were
obligated to decide the round for pairing reasons and did so with a
coin flip.

Among the inequalities:

?	Stylistic marginalization:  This community is accepting of judges'
ability to vote against dropped arguments presented in a traditional
style ? usually with cards only, while ignoring when the stylistic
majority drops arguments presented in the non-traditional manner.
Sometimes this is intentional, sometimes it's not ? judges often don't
feel that they know how to evaluate those drops. We must find ways to
evaluate these differences equally, beyond the acknowledgement of a
speaker's singing skill, ignoring the argument within.

?	Financial inequalities:  This community privileges the larger, more
expensive tournaments. The institutions with more money are then able
to compete more at these tournaments, and gain the prestige that comes
with hosting these tournaments. We find also that there is often a
direct correlation between available finances and team success ? such
as Northwestern and Wake Forest, among others.  This creates an
educational disparity at the point where these teams are able to hire
more coaches and assistants to cut cards ? debaters are functionally
turned into machines.  In addition, the debate experience at these
places is much different than one found at a smaller or less
prestigious debate program, who have to deal with tenuous budgets and
lack of resources ? affecting the feelings of comfort and security.

These are clearly not all of the inequalities within this debate
community. However, we believe that these, along with other
inequalities, highlight the necessity for change and a global
harassment policy.

We send this e-mail as an attempt to garner the support, feedback, and
criticism of the entirety of this community. We stress, though, that
this criticism must not extend to collective punishment of coaches,
debaters, and/or affiliates of our respective schools. We all accept
personal responsibility for this choice.

Brian Huot
Rosie Washington
Beth Skinner
Phil Hoffman
Leon Eydelman

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