[eDebate] 2nd VP answers (Ques 11-19) from Mike Davis

Darren Elliott delliott
Sun Jan 4 18:21:43 CST 2009

Question #11-- 
What experience do you have to make you qualified to be in charge of a
National Organization that fulfills both academic and competitive needs
of its members? 
I believe I may be the only candidate to serve a full term as regional
rep. I am currently in my fifth term. I have served on half a dozen
committees and have attended every CEDA summer meeting except one since
1994. I know what CEDA is, I understand it?s history and it is because
of this context that I want to serve. 
In addition to my service to CEDA, I am in the perfect position to lead
this organization. I have tremendous administrative support from my
university and they have promised even more if I am elected. As a tenure
track member of our faculty I have access to numerous other faculty
members who I can consult about issues important to the organization, a
legal department that is willing to provide me with free advice and our
Office of Sponsored Programs that is eager to find new sources of
funding for the organization. 
Additionally, I have presented repeatedly in the CEDA division at NCA. I
have done this because I believe it is important to support the
organization and present the organization as an academic one.
Universities are not likely to continue to support debate unless we can
demonstrate that our organization is not just a service organization,
but that we are an academic one as well. 
As a director of debate, I am asked to complete many of the same duties
as the vice president of our organization is asked to. I have to make
monthly reports to our faculty, manage difficult and conflicting
personalities, manage a budget and negotiate hotel and car rental
contracts. I can bring this experience to my role as vice president. 
Dave Steinberg once gave me backhanded compliment that I consider one of
the nicest things that anyone has ever said about me. Dave said, ?Mike
can be a pain in the ass, but he is that way no matter who you are.? I
pride myself on the fact that I try to get to know a diverse group of
people in our community. I know directors and coaches from coast to
coast and I try to learn the names of all of the debaters I come in
contact with whether they are top level varsity debaters or brand new
The reason I feel that everyone has value in the debate community
relates directly to my experience. I have coached at programs where we
have had some of the top debaters in the country, programs where we have
only had one or two team and programs with dozens of novices. These
experienced have helped shaped who I am and how I would lead. Everyone?s
experience is important and I can not pretend to understand where each
individual is coming from, but I will do my best (whether I am elected
or not) to make sure that debate can be the experience that each
individual would like it to be. 
Question #12-- 
4 of the 5 years that you serve CEDA, 2 as a VP and 2 as a Past
President, you have to work well with others who are the actual
President.  Whichever one of you wins will have to work well as a unit
with Gordon Stables and Sue Peterson (the 2 who will assume the
Presidency before you).  What do you bring to the table to ensure a
smooth and complementary leadership role? 
I have worked with Sue and Gordon (as well as Darren and Joe who will be
our immediate past presidents for a long time. Sue and I were
competitors against each other and have worked together in the CEDA
leadership for quite a while. Gordon and I have worked together very
closely at the University of Georgia where we were both graduate
students. Part of the reason I am running is because I am enthusiastic
about the types of changes that both Gordon and Sue have discussed as
CEDA moves forward. 
I also have worked with our treasurer, ML Sandoz, and our executive
secretary, Jeff Jarman, for a long time. I am interested in serving this
organization because I appreciate the work that these individuals have
put into the organization.  
I know that some people have complained that useful or that the executive council is some sort of secret cabal that
makes decisions out of the view of the public. This is an insult to the
people who give of themselves to serve this organization. I know that
this statement might cost me some votes, but if you think that the
individuals who serve CEDA have anything but the best interest of the
organization at heart then I?m probably not the person you want to vote
for anyway. 
Question #13-- 
Do you feel CEDA should abandon its current leadership structure and
move towards another structure?  If so, what should the new structure
look like? 
Maybe.  I voted for the change to two year terms that was proposed a few
years ago. I think that there is too much learning on the job in our
current structure. There are a few ways to solve this problem. The first
would be to move to longer term than are currently served. I understand
that there were many who felt that we would have a hard time recruiting
future vice presidents if this was the case and that may be the case. 
A better solution (and the one that I would favor) would be the
establishment of permanent committees that would take some of the load
off of the vice presidents and president. The establishment of the
national tournament committee is a good start. We need more committees
that can help to create institutional memory. Too often we rely on ML or
Kelly to remember how we did things in the past. This is an unfair
burden on them and guarantees that each president has to learn on the
job. Permanent committees with multi-year appointments would make for a
much better solution. 
That being said ? I do not think the current structure is broken. We
should not abandon this structure which has worked for years unless we
are sure that the new structure is one that will function more fluidly.
Question #14-- 
Recently CEDA has discussed moving from Regions to self-selecting
Conferences.  Do you favor the conference format and if not, why? 
I voted for the conference proposal each time. I saw it as a way to
revitalize regional debate by allowing schools to self-associate. I also
saw it as a way to encourage new schools to participate. I saw it as a
way that existing programs could draw natural alliance with new
programs. If Big Ten schools like Iowa, Northwestern, MSU, Michigan, etc
have programs then CEDA, along with the regional reps could approach
other Big Ten schools about joining their conference. 
Also, some regions are just not working. There are some regions that
have only four or five schools in them. These are not currently viable
regions. We need some alternative that would more accurately reflect our
current travel patterns. I am not sure if conferences is the only viable
solutions, but it was certainly the best one that I had heard in a
Question #15-- 
Do you favor a continued use of edebate for ceda business and
discussion, or should the organization move towards a list serv that is
controlled by the organization? 
I think we are in a tough spot as an organization when it comes to
edebate. I do not think that it should be the primary means of
communication for the organization. Attaching CEDA?s name to the URL
creates more problems than it is worth. Conducting business on a
listserv that allows anonymous posting of whatever slanderous material
someone wants to post is not the proper way to conduct business for a
professional organization. I know some of you think it is no big deal,
but as some who had an anonymous post of me mentioned during a job
interview this is a serious concern that we need to address. 
Additionally, as I understand it Phil does not have much interest in
continuing the listserv. He is still willing to do it for now, but it
should not be the responsibility of a single individual not associated
with the organization to run our professional listserv. We need to start
to move towards a more formal means of communication that is run by our
national organization. 
I am not calling for the shuttas an organization we should distance ourselves from it as a formal
means of communication. Obviously, CEDA cannot and should not shut down
a privately run listserv, but we should find ways to distance ourselves
from it professionally. 
Question #16-- 
Do you favor the current amendment before the membership on
professionalism and ethics? 
I voted for the amendment. I am not sure that it is the best that we can
possibly do and I am sure it will be amended several times in the first
few years if passed, but we should not let the perfect be the enemy of
the good. This policy is without question better than the ad hoc policy
that currently exists. My university attorney was shocked when I talked
with her this summer that as an organization we had not policy that
could deal with unprofessional conduct. 
Whether we like it or not what we do is often examined under a
microscope by administrators looking to cut budgets and we cannot
pretend like we can do whatever we want to each other with no
consequences. We need to have some way to deal with members of our
community who refuse to treat each other in a respectful manner.  
It is simple to say that the current amendment is flawed, but the truth
is that the former policy was more flawed as it included an ethics
clause with no official process for enforcement. So if anyone says that
this amendment is flawed ask yourself is it better than a process where
the accused has no due process. 
Question #17-- 
How should CEDA respond and under what time table should CEDA respond in
the face of publicity or press that puts the organization in a bad
light?  Who should be consulted? 
I answered this question in part in response to Neil Berch on edebate.
Reflecting upon it I think in many ways this is the wrong question. By
the time we are painted in a bad light it is often too late. We need to
be proactive. The reason I don?t worry about the future of the debate
team at JMU is because it is unlikely that a single negative incident
would outweigh all of the goodwill that we have on campus. We need to do
this for our national organization. We only talk about CEDA to the
national media now when we are defending ourselves. We need to have a
presence in the media that demonstrates what is good about what we will
I already have a commitment from our Associate Vice President of
Communication and Marketing, in conjunction with other CEDA leaders, to
assist in the development of a communication strategy that can work to
spread all of the great things that we do. This way when negative light
is shed upon us we are already on the offensive. 
I realize that we certainly cannot predict all of the negative publicity
and when it arrives we should be ready. This is one of the permanent
committees I discussed above that I would like to see formed. Kathyrn
has done a great job with PR, but it is a job that is too much for one
person. We need a committee made of individual both in the debate
community and alumni who are willing to help out. This committee should
be charged with both responding to criticism and proactively pushing the
positive image of CEDA. 
Question #18-- 
Should CEDA have the ability to sanction its own members for behavior
unbecoming a professional, such as verbal, physical, or sexual
harassment?  Whether CEDA sanctions the offender or not, should CEDA
report complaints to the home institution of the offender and if so, how
should that report be made and by whom? 
I think that CEDA should be able to sanction its members if the
professional conduct amendment passes. We cannot allow members to harass
other members and take no action. It places our organization at too much
Currently, our constitution allows for sanctioning with no provision for
how that sanction is determined. The new conduct policy formalizes that
policy and makes it more transparent than the current ad hoc policy. 
The problem I have with the current process and the reason that
suspensions or contacting the host ithat there is no due process. Currently, we can sanction anyone we want
without contacting them and allowing them to defend themselves. If the
amendment does not pass then I would only vote to send a letter to the
accused offender informing them that there were complaints against them.
If they refused to respond or respond in an unfavorable manner then I
would vote for further action. 
Ideally, I would like to see CEDA deal with infractions internally and
not contact the host institution. When we contact the host we
immediately put programs at risk. So if it is a close call I think
dealing with things internally might work better. However, we can
certainly all image offense so serious that we would contact host
institutions or law enforcement. 
I think it is the job of the president of the organization to report any
allegations that are serious enough to rise to level of contacting the
host institution. The president is the face of our organization and
should be the one to deal with university officials. 
Question #19-- 
Finally,  why do you want to be President of the organization? 
Why would anyone want to be? It is a thankless job and everyone has
different demands that you cannot easily meet. That being said I am
willing and excited to serve because of everything that CEDA has given
to me. I am a CEDA person. I was a CEDA debater before the merger. I
attended the summer conference as an undergraduate. I have only missed a
single CEDA Nats in 17 years. I hold those who have served before me in
high regard and I would be humbled and honored to serve in the same
Too many people in our community bemoan the death of debate, but I don?t
think we are in as much trouble as many people do. I think the
fundamentals of the debate community are strong, but we can only survive
if we continue to expand debate opportunities for new programs and new
debaters, as well as existing programs and existing debaters.  
I love debate and I love CEDA. Each year I attend the CEDA national
tournament because it reminds me what is great about this activity. Of
there are any of you who have lost faith in our community I will do
everything in my power to make our organization more responsive to your
needs and concerns so that you too will feel the same pride that I do in
serving our organization. 

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