[eDebate] CEDA Amendment: End of Regions

Jeffrey Jarman jeffrey.jarman
Mon Oct 29 21:03:11 CDT 2007

I am writing to start a conversation regarding one of the proposed  
amendments to the CEDA constitution:  I have proposed the elimination  
of the CEDA regions as an organizational structure and offered self- 
selection into conferences as an alternative.  This email is to  
provide some background to the proposal.

You can find the paper I presented this summer on the topic online at  
http://www.cedadebate.org/conferences.doc  You can find the 2 page  
list of amendments at http://www.cedadebate.org/conferenceamendments.doc

Before I begin, let me say two things:  First, I recognize that my  
vision is an ideal.  I will try to comment and respond to comments,  
but I'm sure I will do so in grand and idealistic terms.  I'll do my  
best to temper my comments, but, big ideas come with grandiose  
rhetoric.  Second, this is just a sketch.  If you have changes,  
PLEASE let them be heard.  Some of the what I've proposed easily  
could be amended.  Deadlines and numbers are two good examples of  
arbitrary provisions in the proposal.

So, to begin:  I am proposing the elimination of the geographically  
determined regional structure.  I am proposing the creation of self- 
selected conferences to serve as a replacement.

How would this work?  All schools would be moved from their region  
into a permanently created "Independent Conference."  Any school not  
joining a conference before the deadline would remain in the  
Independent Conference throughout the school year.  Prior to the  
deadline (set as Sept 1 in the proposal), any group of schools may  
self-select into a conference of their choosing.  Proposals for  
conferences must be accepted by the Executive Council so long as they  
include (1) rules for the entry/exit of member institutions and (2)  
procedure for selecting a chair of the conference.

Conferences with at least 10 member institutions will be eligible for  
voting representation on the executive council.  Failure to attend  
two consecutive EC meetings will automatically de-activate the  
conference's voting rights.  The chair of the conference must request  
voting rights be restarted.

Conferences with at least 8 member institutions will receive a first  
place sweepstakes award at the end of the season.  At least 12 member  
institutions earns a second place award.  At least 15 member  
institutions earns a third place award.  Junior college awards will  
remain the same.

Member institutions can move conferences between the end of CEDA  
nationals and Sept 1.  No changes will be made for any school after  
Sept 1.  Any new program added after that date will automatically be  
added to the Independent Conference.

There are three main advantages of the change:

FIRST, for the CEDA organization.  Our current organizational  
structure is unworkable.  We force people to participate in the  
national governance of the organization when that does not appeal to  
every member institution.  Some schools do not care about the  
decisions made by the organization.  Other care deeply.  But, since  
the council meets three times a year, we need to be governed by those  
with an interest in participating.  Almost every meeting we?ve held  
over the past 10 years was not fully attended.  Switching to  
conferences will allow an improvement in governance.  Conferences do  
not automatically receive representation on the council.  They can  
select not to send a representative, they could be sufficiently small  
to merit only observer status, or they could be de-activated for  

SECOND, for member institutions.  Our annual awards structure forces  
schools to be compared to other schools who are not their peers.   
Colleges and universities seem to universally prefer to set their own  
peer group and compare themselves accordingly.  Our structure should  
follow suit.  Schools can determine who they want to be compared to.   
For some, they will select schools in their athletic conference.   
Others will select schools with similar resources.  Others will  
select schools with similar pedagogical interests.  Still others may  
retain geographical ties.  The point is that schools should be  
empowered to make this determination?the organization should not  
impose it.

THIRD, for new member recruiting.  Colleges and universities are  
familiar with the language of a conference.  As new member schools  
are recruited, an additional attraction could be the conference they  
would join.  I can envision university administrators appearing more  
interested knowing that their team would join a conference where a  
natural point of comparison is in order.  Imagine a Big 10 debate  
conference....a Big 12 debate conference...a Pac 10 debate  
conference....You get the idea.

This is just a brief overview.  There is a more comprehensive paper  
and complete list of amendments available online (it was presented at  
the summer conference this year).  I welcome additional feedback as  
we discuss the proposal.


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