[eDebate] Running for CEDA 2nd vp

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Tue Nov 25 08:19:35 CST 2008

I have accepted a nomination to run for second vice president of CEDA

I have been a part of CEDA for every year since the merger. In those
thirteen years I have been a student, a coach, a tournament host and an
executive committee member.

Since the merger CEDA has struggled to find an identity. The NDT has
continued its mission of running a National Debate Tournament but  CEDA'S
mission is more expansive. It sets out to create a community that provides
for the needs of all students and educators who debate during the entire
school year, not just at the NDT or even CEDA nationals. As such its focus
has often been seen to be on the little guy and the guiding hand of the
leadership has tried to live up to that expectation. The social justice
clause of the mission leaves little doubt on this question.

I would say CEDA has done an exceptional job since the merger. The
leadership structure has worked tirelessly over the years to create a
community of debaters and educators united by a common mission, and given
the task they have taken upon themselves and the resources they have had to
do it they have done an extraordinary job.

However for many in the community CEDA's mission is blurry and ill-defined
or most often irrelevant. I would venture to say that most students do not
consider themselves stakeholders in CEDA, and  I would also guess that much
the same is true of many coaches.

To many of these folks CEDA hosts a cool national tournament that is open to

Efforts to promote the CEDA brand have been moderately successful at best
within the community, and close to non existent in the public sphere in any
thing but the most reactive way. You ask the CEDA leadership at any given
time "what is CEDA" and those that can tell you will give you a different
answer each time. At first this may seem a strength, differing opinions are
supposed to make for stronger leadership. However; lack of a common answer
can also mean an organization whose mission lacks the concreteness to
fulfill its mission.

As we approach the 40th year of CEDA we have endured our greatest public
crisis. The strength of the community has been a welcome development, but
while people are rallying to defend CEDA, what exactly is it that they are
defending? We need a dialogue that defines what it is we want to be, and how
to get there, and while the leadership has done a good job with limited
resources, the organization lacks the programmatic vision to go beyond
hosting a national tournament and to become the organization its mission and
it officers strive for it to be.

We face a crisis of definition that fundamentally effects our future. It can
be seen in the time since the merger in many forms: parli at the college,
high school, and middle school levels; lack of ability to respond to media
and departmental challenges to the justifications for debate; programs which
have seen their budgets not adjusted for inflation in 10 years; lack of
public knowledge or interest in what we do and why its pretty damn cool.  All
of these things can be traced back to stagnant external explanations for the
justification of the kind of debate we do.

The changes in debate over the last decade have greatly expanded the
academic scope of our work and have made debate one of the most exciting
forums for intense multidisciplinary education around. For all the internal
fighting over the last decade we should be good at having debates about
debate, but until we can effectively define and justify ourselves externally
as a community and an organization, not just as individual teams, those
internal changes become a liability. We will never effectively regulate in
round content to the extent that it won't be a potential liability, but we
can build the structure to effectively back up and justify it.

For CEDA to be sustainable and to grow it must move beyond a national
tournament, choosing the topic and a few other identifiable traits and
uphold its mission to "create and support a community of scholar-advocates
within the larger; institution of higher

education who respect one another as seekers of knowledge and agents of
social justice; actively encourage participation in all forms of academic
debate as a means to create personal leadership, transformation and growth;
embrace a diversity of ideas and participants in order to foster an
appreciation of the complexity and richness of human existence; promote the
value of argumentative discourse as a means of producing reasoned, measured,
cooperative solutions to contemporary problems of social and political
significance."  That's a lot to live up to, but I believe if we can get
there it will be good for all in the community, because if we can grow up as
an organization, and clearly describe what our organization is and does I
believe we will see most programs more able to justify budget, scholarship,
staff, and community support.

As we move forward to build an organization that can fufill this mission we
need to focus first and fore most on building the capacity to effectively
implement our version democratic debate. If I where elected 2nd vice
president I would use that position to achieve these goals in several
significant ways, all of which I will go into more detail about over the
course of the campaign, but include: Substantially increased fundraising
capability; Student & Grad Student Employment; New Program Support; High
School and middle school out reach; Public Debate; Sanctioning of local
tournament structure; One day tournaments; Free Nationals ;CEDA Regional
Development Initiative; The CEDA public research initiative, a revised role
and responsibility for the executive council and the hiring of an executive

I have the experience to build debate programs and organizations and have
worked at every level from high school to middle to colleges around the
country. Currently I serve as the chief operating officer of a growing non
profit and am responsible for the capacity building and program building.
This experience, outside the academy uniquely prepares me to guide the
organization through a program which will protect the argument culture we
love while helping to make CEDA  a more effective advocate for debate around
the nation.
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