[eDebate] AFA Conduct Standards

Kuswa, Kevin kkuswa
Fri Nov 14 08:26:40 CST 2008

Hi all,
Jason Russell has made some good points on the AFA deliberations.  I have immense respect for the AFA Committee members, but we have to realize that the AFA organization may be unprofessional itself in terms of its priorities.
What are these rules new expected to prevent?  How will they actually solve?  At what point are they bringing attention to aspects of forensics that are not central to student education?
Is this not a mis-placed reaction to events that cannot be fully legislated away?
Because I think we know the answers to these questions, I would ask the very capable AFA members (thank you for your service to the community) to table these professional conduct rules and work on something far more valuable:
1. Clear up the expectations on gradauate assistant researchers and hired guns.
2. Work on TENURE GUIDELINES FOR DEBATE AND OTHER FORENSICS EDUCATORS.  Guidelines from the AFA on how to approximate tenure-qualifications for Forensics coaches would be a wonderful contribution to the community.  Brian Lain, myself, and others have been nudging the AFA for years on this and every time there seems to be momentum, it stalls for unknown reasons.  The best way to encourage respect for a professional association and its guidelines is to work to make the members more than janitors and bus drivers in the eyes of the discipline.  Without a better statement on Tenure and Academic security, the AFA is telling the same group of people that they should not only be more professional, but also that they are expendable relative to other professionals in the field.  In this sense, the conduct of the AFA is worse than any example of behavior we have talked about on this list.
The AFA does not have a concrete set of tenure suggestions for its members to share with their employers and that is far more unprofessional than anything the new rules will solve.
3. Moves to address equality (economic and otherwise) in the activity, including recruiting, scholarships, etc.   Moves to recruit new programs and to retain the ones we have.  Why is all of this work coming from the bottom-up now?
4. Work on any of the above areas. 
The professional conduct standards may involve a lot of effort, but the best result does not really change anything on the ground.  Talk to coaches and graduate assistants at Wake this weekend and ask them whether work on tenure standards and professional advancement (integrating debate back into the academy in the ways the DAWG encourages for example) would be better than the current amorphous conduct statements.  I promise you will have more people on the side of professional advancement than on behavior conduct.
Before you say, "do both," there still is not a clear articulation of the advantages of the new conduct rules, AND there is a time trade-off--the committee cannot do everything it would like to.
We all applaud your concerns and desire to assist the community--we are simply asking for a change in focus and to hear the folks who are attending tournaments on a regular basis.
In the spirit of Rae Lynn's message (wonderful post), give back to the community without trying to prescibe civility and behavioral norms dependent on the interpretation and enforcement of a committee.
kevin kuswa
u richmond

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