[eDebate] Graduation Amendment with a Caveat

Darren Elliott delliott
Thu Apr 30 22:16:50 CDT 2009

I agree with most of the spirit of this amendment, agree with all of what Mick says (there goes my credibility..or perhaps Mick's), : ), but I have another caveat where I think the wording needs changed--and so much so that I wont vote "yes and hope to change the bad parts later".  I am voting NO, encourage others to do the same, would fully support an EC waiver for any student directly impacted this coming year, and that includes ALL students, especially the ones falling under my concern which is this:
The new rule is only a partial fix to the SQ.  And it is a fix that is great for those who are privileged.  You will NOT get to debate in Grad school UNLESS you attend the same school you got your undergrad from.  There are some glaring problems with this.  If we are to encourage academic enhancement, this rule incentivizes people to not seek out a grad program at another school--diversity in degree granting institutions should be encouraged not stifled.  Additionally there are a number of schools who do not offer Graduate programs.  Period.  Why are those students punished?  Some will answer, status quo.  Yep it stinks too but it stinks fairly across the board.  Some schools that do offer Grad programs may not offer them in the field the student wants to pursue.  Again the rule encourages less academic freedom and not more.  
Why not let students who transfer to another institution for Graduate school debate?  The only answer I have heard to this is it would encourage graduate school poaching and offers of assitantships to get good debaters.  If thats the answer it seems like the motivation for allowing grad students a 5th year really isnt about whats best for them, but for the institution competitive-wise.  If its all about competition and you have grad programs you will likely vote yes.  Everyone else should vote no.  I'm also turned off by the worry that some schools would poach grad students with offers of lots of money.  Will it happen?  Sure.  But the amendment forces a choice between furthering education at a different institution (a good thing) and getting some money perhaps (also not a bad thing for our students) OR forced servitude if one wants to continue debating.  Seems a bit problematic in a lot of ways.
What I support: 5 years of debate for everyone.  If a student crosses into Grad school in that 5th year, let them all debate too.  The SQ lets none of them debate.  The amendment only lets those who attend a privileged institution debate.  Seems like the alt is worse because it creates a privileged class of debaters.  Hope we can move beyond that.  Again I support an EC waiver for anyone this effects this year, and would write an amendment allowing all grad students to debate if its their 5th year.

>>> Michael Souders <micksouders at gmail.com> 4/30/2009 10:26 AM >>>

Phil is obviously right about this.  The current structure punishes those who perform well academically and create a disincentive for graduation  And, of course, "graduate school" should be interpreted to also include any professional schools (medical school, law school, business school) or accredited certificate programs (women's or gender studies certificates, for example) that are not necessarily attached to the university graduate school.

However, I do think some of the wording might need changing.  The current wording would seem to allow graduate students to begin debating in graduate school and functionally debate for five years, unless I am mistaken--or, more commonly, to graduate after three years (having attended only two CEDA Nationals) and then compete for two more years in graduate school.  I tend to think that graduate students should be limited to one year of additional competition after receiving an undergraduate degree.  No one wants fifth year Ph.D students competing against 18 year old undergraduates.  And perhaps more realistically, debate should not be competing with students's abilities to work on MA theses, L2 studies, etc.  We all know debate can be all-consuming, let's not make a system that gets our students more undergraduate degrees (a good thing) but torpedoes their graduate work (a bad thing).

Students need to make choices for themselves, but we shouldn't incentivize them not working on their thesis or graduate course work.

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