[eDebate] Concern about the Graduation Amendment

Samuel Maurer chairman.maurer
Fri May 8 13:27:58 CDT 2009

Yesterday at our squad meeting, I thought we would quickly discusss the
graduation amendment and move on when my team made some very good points
that I would like to inquire about.  So here is my concern and perhaps
someone can alleviate it or agree with it or logically dismiss it.

The amendment that allows a student to continue debating in their first year
of graduate school may unfairly privlege programs with attached graduate
schools in recruiting activities.  A director who is recruiting a student to
their debate program may be able to make their program sound very appealing
if they said "If you want to finish your degree in 4 years, you can continue
debating here."  Even if the student is fooling themselves and has zero
intention or will to graduate in four years (which, from my experience, is
VERY often the case when dealing with 18-year-old kids...they all think they
can handle 24 credit hours a semester), the possibility of expediting
graduation may just be appealing enough to make them prefer a bigger school
with graduate programs.  If that program has graduate assistantships that
are attached to the debate program, that could be even more appealing ("come
debate for me: school will be free your 5th year and we'll pay you
$10,000"...to an 18-year-old, that sounds awesome)*.   This also may
disadvantage new programs that either (a) don't have graduate schools in
popular debater-majors (poly sci, comm, etc.) or (b) even have graduate
schools but no assistantships designated for the debate team.

Keep in mind, this is just a reservation and concern that we have, not
necessarily a deal-breaker for the amendment.  I just wanted to put this out
there to see what other folks thought.  Obviously, I do this from the
perspective of a director at a program that doesn't have an attached
graduate school or any graduate assistantships.

It may be the case that, althought this concern is a real one, that it
simply doesn't outweigh the concerns of belaying academic advancement of our
students.  'What?  Students may go to schools where they can go to undergrad
AND graduate school at the same university?  Good!'  I get that.  As one of
my debaters put it "if you can handle debating a full schedule and your
first year of graduate school at the same time, more power to you."  And I
do think it is dumb for someone to have to take 24 credit hours of basket
weaving their super senior year just so they can debate.

But at the same time, it is plainly obvious that the most skilled and
practiced high school debaters that come out of big TOC programs almost
exclusively go to large, well-funded debate teams at very reputable
universities; I believe this amendment will amplify that effect.  Do the
academic benefits to some of our students outweigh the slight structural
magnification of inequity between programs?  I don't know -- that's why I'm


* A seperate concern, but one worth inquiring about.  How would
assistantships that are designated for debate teaching assistants work in
that world?  Would those just become de facto debating scholarships?  Would
assistanships that are tied to a partial teaching load even be feasible to a
student with a full travel schedule?  I suppose it would vary, but something
to think about.

Samuel A. Maurer
Director of Debate
Emporia State University
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