[eDebate] 2nd VP answers from Jason Russell

Darren Elliott delliott
Sun Jan 4 18:15:42 CST 2009

Question 1: Video Sharing

I?m not opposed to private sharing of video recorded debate content as
long as all participants in the recording agree to the recording and its
been shared. CEDA should prohibit public posting of debates that occur
at CEDA nationals. 

Question 2: Support for New Programs

CEDA should support new programs to the extent that it?s financially
feasible. I believe that CEDA should express support to the departmental
and university administrations involved in new programs and should
provide logistical advice regarding where to find and how to use
organizational resources. These resources should include information on
finance, tournament procedure and administration, squad administration,
best practices, and ?how to? debate research and skills advice. These
resources should be bundled into a welcome package for new programs. 

Question 3: 1st-Rd Attendance at CEDA Nats

I?m not concerned that any particular teams attend CEDA nationals. I
think CEDA tournament procedures should not be changed to encourage
attendance by these teams. I believe that CEDA should retain an ?open
attendance? tournament as an alternative to the format used by the NDT.
I certainly support teams attending both tournaments, but would not
change anything about the national tournament to encourage their
attendance. My teams, including any 1st-round at-large bids to the NDT
have and will always attend CEDA nationals. 

Question 4: Electronic Business Meetings

I?m for ?em. I think the webcast at the topic meeting last year was a
great innovation. We should opt for utilizing facilities that allow more
if not all of our official business to be conducted in view by those on
the web. 

Question 5: Funding

I?m not certain that CEDA is in a position to directly affect the
situation of programs which have lost funding, but CEDA should encourage
research into fund-raising strategies and tactics, including survey
research directed at those programs that are developing and utilizing
successful fund-raising methods. CEDA should also serve as a
clearinghouse for ?advertisement? for the debate activity itself,
succinctly and clearly demonstrating the value of debate for a
university. These resources exist in disparate places on the web and in
print today and consolidating this knowledge should be a priority of the

Question 6: What Content Regs are Ok?

None accept those where the content violates laws or consists of sexual
or cultural harassment or violence. 

Question 7a: Electronic Convergence

At its base, this is a question of costs. Everyone wants CEDA to do
more, but no one wants to pay more money to the organization.
Technological convergence is likely to be a slow process for as long as
CEDA is an underfunded organization. We neither charge much nor make
much money. Therefore, we?re dependent on the work of volunteers to make
improvements in our technological capacity. I would actively seek the
support of the more tech savvy members of our community to assist in
making improvements and will work with members of the CEDA leadership to
adjust to using these new technologies to help our membership get a
better product. I?m not tech expert, but I certainly support innovative
communication technologies. 

Question 7b: The Real World

Debate is two-sided. I support 100% the real world application of ideas
gained from debate; it?s a large principle of the way that I personally
teach and practice debate. Debate develops skills in students to
communicate their ideas successfully in the form of research and public
speaking; I think this is primarily a role performed at the team level,
not the organizational level. I do not think that CEDA or the NDT is
appropriately involved in picking the way that debate ideas are executed
in the real world by its students. The social activism we should be
involved in should be in support of education and the promotion of the
debate activity itself, not particularized perspectives on aof debate ideas. I consider myself an outspoken advocate of the benefit
of debate and education and will use my office to expand my audience for
these ideas. 

Question 8: Ideals

My ideal debate round is fun and educational. The students are smart and
well-researched and prepared. The judge is competent, engaged, and
critical, but helpful. The competition is fierce, but good-natured. 

My ideal debate team works hard and is intelligent. They?re fun to be
around, have unique and innovative ideas, and take debate seriously, but
enjoy the people they?re around. 

My ideal debate squad is large and well-rounded. I like to have students
from all walks of life and all levels of experience around. The team
works together and supports one another. They?re more like a big family
than a club. They are serious, but have a good time with what they?re

My ideal tournament is focused on debate. The hotel is close to the
tournament site. The tournament has fewer than 8 rounds. The pairings
come out quickly after the culmination of the previous debate. Few
buildings are used. The tournament starts a little later in the day and
ends before 9pm. The level of competition is high. Getting food is
simple. Wireless internet is available to all participants. 

My ideal community is big and diverse. People spend time getting to know
one another when they have some downtime. They grab a drink together at
night instead of cordoning themselves off to cut cards. Multiple
argument styles are as accepted as different impact scenarios to the
politics disad. Individuals are welcomed for their differences rather
than chastised for them. We feel free to disagree about how we conduct
our business, but we do so with respect and an eye toward understanding
rather than demonizing others. Debate has many communities; all of them
should support one another. 

Question 9: Attendance at CEDA

CEDA should be as cheap and convenient to attend as possible. I believe
that we should look into outside financing and sponsorship of the
national tournament. When CEDA was hosted at our university a couple of
years ago, I know that we found great enthusiasm for financing the
tournament by university and private sources. Underwriting the costs of
the tournament could help reduce fees. Hotel contracts should be
examined from all sides. Multi-year siting and multi-year hotel
contracts should be pursued if costs can be lowered as a result. CEDA
siting decisions should lean heavily toward ease of travel and lower
travel costs when possible. The organization, not the tournament host,
should be the primary beneficiary of any hotel rewards. Beyond lowering
costs, the entry barriers to CEDA attendance are low. The scheduling of
CEDA relative to the NDT will always force some teams to make trade-offs
in choosing which tournament to attend. The organization should be
cognizant of the NDT?s scheduled dates, but should not make decisions
regarding its tournament placement relative to the NDT but for avoiding
direct date overlap. 

Question 10: Regional Debate

I honestly believe that the problem for regional debate today lies not
in CEDA, but in the NDT?s 1st-Round structure. I believe that this
system should be changed and objectified to designate specific
tournaments as those that count toward bid allocation and exclude other
tournaments from bid relevance. 30-40 teams each year do not attend any
regional tournaments for fear of the impact that attending these
tournaments may have on their bid sheets. A regional rotating designate
system would return these teams, their coaches, and likely some of their
satellite teams (2nd or 3rd teams of 1st-round competitors) to the
regionals. Until this change is made, CEDA can do little to encourage
the return of these teams to the regionals. I have an will continue as
CEDA VP to encourage the development of such a system. 

But for these ?top teams?, regional debate is doing pretty well in most
regions not heavily impacted by attrition to parli omind, this is a quality, not a quantity, issue. 

Question 11: Experience

My qualifications are both competitive and academic. I?ve been a member
of CEDA for 15 years and actively involved in debate for 20 years. I?ve
worked for two CEDA national tournament hosts and was coached and worked
for a former CEDA president. I?ve been involved in business and topic
meetings for most of the last 7 years. I actively follow and participate
in conversations about organizational decision-making. I?ve coached
teams of all different shapes and sizes and worked with a variety of
different debate personalities. I think the diversity of my experience
makes me uniquely capable of speaking to the multi-faceted needs of the

Academically, I will be an ABD PhD candidate at the end of spring 2009.
I?ve been a representative to the student senate, a grade student
association leader, and the director of my GTA teaching section. I?ve
published. I?m an active researcher. I?ve taught 60 hours of college
courses and teach 6 credit hours a semester at a minimum. I?m both an
academic and a coach. The ?dual role? of many of our colleagues is
something I feel everyday. While I?ve done some of my most competitive
debate work, I?ve also been a day-to-day student and teacher at a major
university. This balancing act is a challenge I understand first-hand. 

Question 12: Stables/Peterson

I know both Sue and Gordon well. I work with both of them during the
summer at the Arizona Debate Institute. I?ve known Sue since she was a
debater and Gordon for the better part of the decade. Things won?t
always go off without a hitch, but to demonstrate, while actively
opposing the wording of the CEDA professionalism rule, I spent time
talking to both Gordon and Sue at length regarding the amendment, its
wording, and what could be done to make improvements. Anyone that knows
me knows I will fight vociferously for what I believe in and will not
hesitate to question the President if I think they?re wrong, but
compromising and working with these two individuals is something I would
not have any problems with. I consider them both friends and valued

Question 13: Leadership Structure

I don?t think an overhaul of CEDA?s leadership is necessary, but would
be open to examining suggestions if they were voiced. 
Question 14: Conferences

I opposed self-selecting conferences because I avoid the frog pond model
of debate. I think that there is a value to the mixing that is
encouraged by geographic selection. I also believe that there is room
for manipulation by individuals who are willing to buy themselves a seat
at the CEDA leadership table by divising a dead-letter conference and
naming themselves the head of that conference. I also oppose the ability
of a conference to basically ?boot? a member because they don?t like
their style or content. I think one of the great benefits of debate is
odd mixture. I worry that conferences are a way to push us apart as
opposed to bringing us together. Their benefits are relatively modest in
my opinion compared to their potential costs. 

Question 15: eDebate

I think posting CEDA business to eDebate is fine. I think the
organization should also use its own website, as it does now. Surely,
discussion via eDebate is also ok. People can talk about debate wherever
they want to and CEDA should be involved in those discussions. 

Question 16: Professionalism

I?m for professionalism; I?m opposed to this rule about professionalism.
I think it?s telling that the AFA rule was tabled to improve the
wording. We should heed their warning. This rule isn?t designed to
create professionalism and frankly no rule can create professionalism.
We should be professional because we care about debate, not because
someone told us to be. 

Question 17: PR

The organization should respond deftly. I don?t think a timetable is
warranted and situations should be handled on a case-by-case basis. CEDA
needs an in-house PR professional to handle their press. CEDA should be
proactive in promoting debate everywhere possible, pushing positive
stories about the community and its contributions. The CEDA leadership
should be consulted, but ultimately the President?s name should be
attached to any official organizational response. CEDA should respond
with details and research, not just conjecture and spin. We should use
the knowledge that we have of argument to fight for our public image. 

Question 18: Sanctions/Reporting

I?m opposed to sanctions unless unwelcome behaviors are explicitly
spelled out. Sexual harassment, for instance, is something CEDA already
has the ability to sanction members for. This behavior is also
well-established and known to any university employee and thus to CEDA
members. ?Verbal harassment? is not a term of art and is unclear. I am
opposed to the obscenity standard?s eyeball rule for what does or does
not count as sanctionable behavior. Until we can more clearly explain to
individuals what behavior they can be sanctioned for, we should not
develop rules with sanctions. 
I support reporting, as long as this reporting is objective and the
facts are agreed to by the individuals in question. It?s critical that
CEDA get these details right or it could face legal challenges. Even
reporting should be used sparingly to retain the value of the impact
using the organizations force against its membership. 

Question 19: Why?

I want to be the CEDA president because I want to give back to the
organization that has given a lot to me. I?ve benefited from the deft
decision-making of CEDA leaders for my professional career and I want to
make similar contributions to debate for others. Debate is in my
estimation the most valuable academic enterprise available to students
and its best and brightest deserve to have their organization run by
individuals that care as much about it as the kids do. I love debate,
debaters, and debate coaches and want to offer my skills to make debate
a better place for them. I want to lead CEDA because I have the idea and
voice to help the organization face its greatest difficulties and
improve on its biggest strengths. 

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