[eDebate] Awards Amendment on the CEDA Ballot

Gordon Stables stables
Fri Jul 3 02:55:59 CDT 2009


Justin,

Thanks for the good feedback. It always helps to get differing
perspectives, especially when I should apologize for not providing the
justification for the amendment in a more timely fashion.

I am the author of this amendment and it is the result of several
years of trying to resolve problems with our current awards. This had
roots in the 2008 CEDA summer business meetings when working groups
were specifically assigned to look at the structural aspects of our
organizational and begin to suggest changes. I should thank that whole
working group for their help in this effort. I would note the flaws
are probably my mistakes in writing the amendment.

This is an omnibus awards amendment precisely because our amendments
are typically added, or modified, in an ad hoc fashion. Combining the
items into a single amendment is an effort to have a clear series of
standards across the awards. I included the original and modified
texts on the ceda website to make sure folks could review the changes,
but in short:

1)  The Speaker of the Year award would be renamed the Public Advocate
award. This isn't a new award, but one that has been given out for the
last several years (Nate Silver won it last year). In our recent
discussions it became noticeable that nominations were recognizing a
broad range of contributors for their argumentative contributions, but
having the award narrowed to a 'speaker' created some confusion. Would
a university president who pushed for debate throughout their career
be such a nominee? How about a community organizer who worked to
enhance access to social services? In these, and many other cases,
keeping the criteria similar to that as originally proposed but
changing the name reduces confusion.  Hopefully, this change will
encourage members to nominate other great individuals, outside our
immediate community, who are great practitioners of the skills we
value.

2) Academic All Americans - Justin is correct to point out that this
is the largest area of change. Each year there is substantial
confusion among coaches and students alike about the two sets of
All-American awards. Not only do the names (Academic All-American and
All-American team) sound familiar but there are real questions about
student eligibility for both awards. Before someone  writes back with
their own view of how this 'should' or 'did' proceed let me encourage
folks to review the texts. The language of the awards is unclear, so
each year the CEDA 1st VP and the awards committee have to decide if
students should be eligible for both and if not, which is the
hierarchy for each program among many areas of confusion.

At the same time, I believe the turnout for nominations for the the
academic all-american awards is low when compared to the overall deep
pool of talented students in our activity. Even though the award
allows larger number of students, it is structured in such a way to
discourage nominations. I wanted to make it clear that every student
competing for a CEDA program who meets these academic standards would
be eligible. Shifting it to a national debate scholar title becomes an
honor roll of sorts for our community.

I appreciate Justin's concern about this renaming, but I believe it
speaks to the larger problem. The Academic All-American awards are
functionally not exclusive from one student to another. We could, and
should, recognize 1000 students if they earned over a 3.5 and competed
during a season. That should be the goal, but I know that the problems
in current language dissuade applications and also fail to recognize
our highest academic achievements. I believe a 'National Debate
Scholar' designation, complete with press release on the eve of CEDA
Nationals, would be a useful means of allowing our members to
rightfully tout their academic accomplishments.

The final aspect of the national debate scholar restructuring is that
it, while still allowing every student who could have been on the AAA
team now, also has higher tiers of awards. Today we give lots of
awards for competition and do much to differentiate among the types of
competitive awards, but there is no time in debate where we stop and
ask if there any students who are truly exceptional in the classroom.
I envisioned the highest tiers of the academic awards functioning like
those at commencement ceremonies, if we have 20 (or 200) students who
have the highest tier of GPA while competing I would like to
individually recognize those students.

Thanks for the note. I am not sure how quickly I can respond, but I am
happy to answer questions.

Gordon






Gordon Stables, Ph.D.
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Southern California
Office: 213 740 2759
Fax: 213 740 3913
www.usctrojandebate.com



On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 5:45 AM, Justin Green<jmgreen at ksu.edu> wrote:
> After reading the new amendment on the ballot, there appear to be two
> major changes. ?Let me preface the rest of this post with a note that
> it is highly likely that I am missing other changes. ?To intentionally
> sound like a broken record, I would appreciate the advocate(s) of this
> amendment to speak-out on its behalf.
>
> First, the addition of the Public Advocate Award. ?While somewhat
> vague, I think this is a good idea. ?I am not sure who we would
> nominate and it could bring some marginal notoriety to CEDA as well as
> honoring someone who might be worthwhile.
>
> Second, the change from "Scholastic All-Americans" to "National Debate
> Scholar". ?I am vehemently opposed to this amendment. ?To say that any
> debater is a "National Debate Scholar" appears redundant. ?After
> winning the award, we would have to explain "this is the equivalent of
> being an Academic All American".This change undermines the ability of
> our squad to go to our administration and publicize the combination of
> competitive and academic successes. ?Our Department Chair, Dean,
> President, School Paper, and numerous professors picked up on the fact
> that we had 6 debaters of various Scholastic All-American
> distinctions. ?I hope that other squads were able to do the same. ?As
> a Director who requires their squad members maintain a 3.0 GPA or else
> face probation, this was both re-assuring and valuable to the
> political capital of our squad. ?While I agree with the change in the
> amendment that increases the GPA to achieve the highest rank, the name
> change hinders our efforts in on-campus lobbying.
>
> As of now, KSU will vote no to this amendment. ?The addition of a
> Public Advocate Award will unfortunately not overwhelm the advocacy
> benefits our squad derives from the label "Scholastic All-American".
>
> As an aside...Rather than lump all of the changes in the awards into
> one amendment, it might better allow the community to express their
> interest and more readily see the changes, if the different decisions
> within the amendment were separated as separate votes.
>
> Looking forward to further discussion,
>
> Justin Green
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