[eDebate] "Qualified judges" requirements disturbing

Jeremy Bowers jeremyjbowers
Mon Aug 11 14:24:15 CDT 2008


I'd have to agree with Scott. We're just starting our CEDA program
here at the University of South Florida (wish us luck!) -- and I don't
think anyone traveling with the team would be a "qualified" judge. In
fact, my wife would likely be one of our judges. While she's got a
cleaner flow than half the folks that judged me in college - and is an
honest-to-god journalist at a real newspaper - she would be out on two
counts even by Scott's measures below (not "qualified" and not a
college graduate).

So, how can the community help support small programs like ours, or
big programs like Scott's that can't afford to hire the most popular
judges or experienced grad students?

Also, this is my first edebate post in probably 8 years. Good to see
many of the same names.

Jeremy Bowers
St. Petersburg, Fla.

On Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 2:48 PM,  <scottelliott at grandecom.net> wrote:
> MPJ has morphed into a insidious and more exclusionary process. Tournaments are
> now requiring teams to provide "qualified judges." This is a serious problem
> that means the difference, for my program, between travling four students and
> travling twenty students this year.  What counts as a "qualified judge?"
>
> I have been looking at the GSU and UNLV invites. Not focusing on them as some
> particular attack, but I have noticed a judging requirement to provide
> "qualified judges." We want to go to these tournaments, but now I don't think we
> can. (Let me be clear, this is a criticism of the trend, and not
> of specific programs or people, so put your ad homs away.) What is this code
> word? Does this mean "qualified," as in able to fairly to the best of one's
> ability to listen and evaluate arguments made by college students. Or, is this
> a code word for people that follow popular trends within the policy debate
> community?
>
> I have been around this activity for almost thirty years. But I have a program
> that is less than a year old. We have gone from zero teams to 8 or more teams
> in just one year. I don't have a set of graduate students who have been
> debating and coaching for ten years. So, I want to travel to  more tournaments
> and travel a lot of teams. However, I don't think we can fulfill our judging
> commitments. So, I  have students who have worked hard, went to camps, and
> are practicing. We have the funds to travel them. But we do not have enough
> judges to judge for our program. I spent  a few thousand dollars sending a
> graduate student to ADI, just so he would have some idea of what policy debate
> is. But with no real tournament debating experience, does he count as a
> "qualified judge?" I have been around the game for decades, but I have several
> political points of view about debate that are very unpopular. Does that mean I
> am unqualified? Many of you may say yes, I am unqualified (LOL. Which proves the
> point I am making.) If you don't like someone, or their political views, does
> that make them an unqualified judge?
>
> Does a graduate student count as a qualified judge or not? What about my
> department chair-a full professor of communication, but no debate background.
> What about my Dean--a full professor of analytical philosophy, but with no
> policy debate experience? What about a professor of women's studies or African
> American studies, but with no policy debate experience? Is policy debate going
> to become so exclusionary that only those who debated for four years and high
> school and four years in college are the only one's "qualified" to judge policy
> debates?
>
> If Ede and other critics of how this game is set up want to advance their
> critique of MPJ,and policy debate in general, this new manifestation of policy
> debate exclusionary policies has more impact on whether students can
> participate in debate than MPJ or any other aesthetic choices. Why? Because if
> we cannot cover our judging commitments because of these "qualified judges"
> provisions, our students do not travel to tournaments.
>
> Who gets to determine the qualifications of a judge? The tab room staff. Friends
> of the tabroom? People who think they got screwed in a round by a judge four
> years ago?
>
> Doesn't this create a self-perpetuating problem for women and minority
> participation as well as their points of view?
>
> I think it does because the
> people making the decisons are making the evaluation
> of what constitutes a "qualified judge" based on their subjective
> interpretations of what constitutes a qualfied judge in policy debate. My
> sneaking suspiscion is that this means the ability and willingness to flow
> debates at a million miles an hour and a willingness to accept anything
> presented in a round as a legitimate argument. Both are aesthetic trends that
> should not be the basis for considering a judge's qualifications. Just because
> a buntch of geeky guys love to spew at a million miles an hour cards of
> Hiedegger does not mean that a judge is unqualified. It means that those
> debaters have lost the first principle of persuasion, one must discern the
> available means of persuasion based upon their target audience. The focus on
> mpj and judge qualifications turns two thousand years of communication theory
> on its head--having the audience be forced to adapt to the speaker, rathern
> than vice versa. Given that debate is dominated by a particular aesthetic, the
> judgment of judge qualification will only further, if not exacerbate, current
> exclusionary trends in this activity.
>
> Nor should qualifications be based on MPJ popularity. Just because your MPJ
> system breaks down every now and then does not justify the exclusion of
> otherwise educated human beings from judging, and worse, the exclusion of
> student debaters because their programs cannot meet your arbritrary standards
> of "qualified." There should be a clear standard for qualified judges that
> creates minimum exclusionary practices.
>
>
> Many of you will say, hire judges. I think you need to answer back a few
> objections. First, why should I hire judges when there are plenty of graduate
> students, my faculty, or alumni that would volunteer to do the work. The amount
> i spend on hired judges directly trades off with the number of students I can
> bring to a tournament--further privileging well funded programs. Second, where
> are these qualified judges for hire? I know that they are not always available.
> We were in a jam at North texas and UT dallas last year when I had four teams.
> It cost an arm and a leg to find and pay for  hired judges.
>
> I have a solution for this disturbing trend. The definition of a qualified judge
> for college policy debate: the person holds a four year college degree or
> higher. But, as it stand now, this vague term creates a very real hurdle for
> new programs and is one of the most exclusionary new practices to crop up in
> this activity.
>
> Scott Elliott
>
>
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