[eDebate] Presidential Reaction/Call for Responsible Action

Darren Elliott delliott
Fri Aug 22 14:40:53 CDT 2008

Dear Community Members,

As President of CEDA, I hope that as an organization we can begin moving forward in a direction that is both productive and self reflexive.  It is clear we have a lot of work to do.  I am confident we have the people to do the work.  Today I am deeply concerned about the future of Fort Hays Debate.  I am concerned about the debaters currently at Fort Hays State.  And I am equally concerned for Bill and his family.  In the larger scope, I am concerned with how we conduct ourselves, both at tournaments and in this forum and others like it.  I appreciate and echo the comment of Gabe Cook from this afternoon.  

I would ask the community to begin 2 courses of action:

1.  We increase the level of respect in these forums, model civility, and begin practicing a moment of calm.  I know this is tough, especially as emotions are running high right now.  But now more than ever, we need that civility.  Everytime someone is attacked on this list serv or in similar forums, it only provides evidence for statements by those in authority who have chosent to "blame" college debate for what happened.  Blaming any debater for what happened and indicting them publicly makes you part of the problem.  It allows President Hammond to make comments that debate has sunk to a new low of civility.  Blaming any of the participants in the video, makes you culpable for the comments being made and the media sensationalizing this event.  Attacking anyone means we are destroying ourselves internally.  What we need now is an organized, congenial, united front as we move forward in our attempt to secure the safety of our member programs, and all the programs who might consider joining us in the future.  Please do not undo the work of so many people working so hard to, as ML stated so eloquently, "build bridges".

2.  We will be asking opening tournaments of the year (Gonzaga, Baltimore, UNI, GSU) and Regional openers (such as Kings and Wichita State) to provide a forum for members to have a civil dialogue with Executive Officers of the organization.  We are willing to split these tournaments up among us, to host the sessions to begin an organizational dialogue of how to proceed, how to avoid anything like this in the future, and how to build bridges with Adminstrations.  We want to field your questions and begin work on moving the organization forward.  In that spirit, within the last few days, I have authorized the creation of an ad hoc committee, to be chaired by Gordon Stables and vice-chaired by Will Repko to begin work on how to improve our curriculum of competitive debate, both in and out of round.  Gordon will be calling on people to take part in this committee.  Please offer assistance if you have the time and ability to contribute positively.  Gordon will have more information on how this committee will proceed.

I appreciate all of the work being done by people to positively reflect the mission and goals of CEDA.  I know that as we work together, and not against one another, we will be able to overcome any misgivings in the media, among Administrators, and within those who do not fully understand what it is we practice.  It is up to us to educate them, and to do so through positive and calm interactions.  Anything else would be counter productive to us all, and may, for other programs, lead down the road that Fort Hays has chosen today.  Please be a part of the solution and not the problem.

Darren Elliott
CEDA President
Director of Debate and Forensics--Kansas City Kansas Community College

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