[eDebate] UDL's and college debate-check the facts.

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Tue Aug 5 10:17:17 CDT 2008

Things in think everyone agrees on:

1) Policy debate is great. It teaches research argumentation, etc.
2) Policy debate in college currently does not serve minority populations at a
level it should.
3) We should make an effort to increase minority participation in college policy

Now for disagreements:

>From the National UDL website 9http://www.urbandebate.org/debatehistory.shtml):

"In ten years, 33,000 students have competed in UDLs from urban school districts
with approximately 87% minority and 78% low-income student populations."

I think if you claim that UDL's are not geared primarily toward minority
students, you are being disingeuous at best. Sure, it may be open to all
students, but the original goal in Detroit and Atlanta, where UDL's started, was
to target inner city schools with almost 100% African-American populations.  So,
we "ain't cool" on this point.

As far as being able to compete on an equal footing. That is fine with me. This,
of course, undermines the entire argument/movement set up by Dr. Warner. He
can't have it both ways. He can't say Africa-American students cannot compete
under the current paradigm of policy debate, while, at the same time, arguing
that African-American students are hugely successful in policy debate. I have
actually listened to the arguments made by his debaters (sometimes voting for
them, sometimes against in rounds). So, I speak from actual experience.

My argument is that if what some people say is true--that there is a culture of
exclusion within college policy debate that prevents an increase in
African-American participation (his project, not mine), then their solutions
are misguided and that there are other, better ways to solve the problem. I do
no think there is any real hope of changing the culture of college policy
debate. The results of their project, to me, bear this out.

I think the problem is purely economic/resource driven--which your conclusions
concerning UDL success seem to easily prove for me. Thus, rather than debating
about the nature of how to debate in college debate rounds, to garner a few
wins, more effort and resources should be spent on developing more debate

And, before you say, "put your money where your mouth is," I will give you three
quick points to show that I am sincere:

1) I came back to Louisiana, in part, because policy debate had died out
completely at the college level and almost completely at the high school level.
We have restarted collge policy debate at a University that has not seen policy
debate in over twenty years. We started with ZERO teams last year. We will have
between 8 to 12 teams--college policy teams-this year. We have been making
outreach to rural and urban high schools to restart policy debate at the high
school level. One of the requirements of team members is to work with an area
school to promote debate at the high school level. We are talking about an
entire state, with at least four major urban centers, in which policy debate
has virtually dies out. It will take decades to bring it back. (BTW, a UDL in
New Orleans and Baton Rouge should be made a top priority by the NUDL)

2) We started a high school debate camp this summer in Louisiana that was open
to all students and as cheap as possible. We even had students from inner-City
New Orleans schools stay at my house and others' homes for free for the
duration of the camp. Why, because my wife and I want to see debate flourish in

3)I have offered to pay to incorporate a non-profit organization with the
primary goal of recruiting more college programs that serve minority student

Why people think this is some strange idea is beyond me. Recall, CEDA started
with only four or five coaches telling the NDT to go to hell. In its heyday, it
had over 300 member institutions. Why can't we do the same for HBCU's and other
institutions that service primarily minority students?

I think the UDL example is valid and can be exported to the college level. How
so?  Regardless of your arguments to the contrary, UDL's target primarily
minority dominated inner city schools. The UDL statistics bear this out. An 87%
minority student population rate for any program rates as a program targeted
to improve the education of minority students. The orginal UDL's were seperate.
They created spaces by hosting UDL only tournaments. This created, and continues
to create, competitive space for students.

You are quite correct that now many UDL debaters go toe to toe and win against
suburban and private school programs.

Why not create a version of UDL's at the college level. There are literally
hundreds of HBCU's and other colleges that have a large minorty student
population that do not participate in policy debate

It would be a better dedication of time, effort, and resources than the current
hollow appeals to change the aesthetics of policy debate.


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