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Re: Larsen & Alternative Formats
> In a message dated 12/12/96 7:01:28 PM, Gary Larson wrote:
> >Increasingly, I am hearing the suggestion that policy debate should
> >be maximized for the truly committed survivors - the students and
> >programs (independent of available resources) who choose to make the
> >necessary commitments to policy debate. Programs that can not or
> >choose not to make such a commitment should happily embrace workable
> >alternatives such APDA, NPDA, NFA-LD, etc. If this is our
> >organizational philosphy in CEDA/NDT we should state it explicitly
> >rather than sustain "big tent" rhetoric.
> If this is a paraphrase of what I have been saying, then I disagree strongly
> with your emphasis.
I need to emphasize that I am not attempting to paraphrase Tuna. I
apologize if I implied that (I was responding specifically to Bear's
correct suggestion that I had failed to consider alternative formats
in my last post - which was simply reproducing Murphy's results).
Tuna clarified the intent of his alternative format comments quite
well a couple of weeks ago. My "increasingly" comment doesn't apply
to Tuna's original remarks but the responses (many back-channel) to
any "small-program whine" that we should consider alternatives.
Quite to the contrary, I believe that Tuna has done as much or more
than any of us to promote the big tent, both by his words and more
importantly, by his actions - a scan of CEDA results over the past
three years would show more new programs from a wide variety of
institutions in the East than in any other part of the country. .
> I think in my recent posting I explained about how I would work to promote
> team topic debate for a broad community without requiring it to be "all
> debate for all people."
> I don't understand your alternative.
> 1. Give up and run away from it. I hope you and others don't do that, but I
> can't stop you.
> 2. Impose as organization/tournament/judge specific audience centered
> rhetorical parameters on the debaters.
> 3. Something else?
Actually, I haven't posed an alternative. I would like to continue
to provoke discussions as to how research-oriented team policy debate
(ala CEDA/NDT/ADA/NEDA) can effectively reach the unreached and be
preserved at the margins (in the last 24-hours we find that Auburn
students are having difficulty acquiring institutional support and
UNLV is in danger of losing it).
I think I have made it clear that I
DON'T consider "running away" to be my option. Faced with the
prospect of NEDA defections in my part of the country and with some
stong collegial pressures to follow, I rather permitted myself to be
"drafted" as CEDA executive secretary. I have also been a strong
advocate of CEDA/NDT cooperation, privately, in the travel choices of
our squad, publicly as a topic committee member and in my official
role the last two years.
I also don't think that organization/tournament/judge-specific
audience-centered parameters are the most effective strategy for
making debate more accessible (while they should continue to be an
alternative - I'm impressed by public debate initiatives both within
the tournament model and in on-campus and community outreach venues).
It seems reform can come in a variety of ways (I'll post more on this
when I complete my grading). The problem that I am most interested
in is the impact of large topics and information overload both on the
preparation cycle and on in-round dynamics. We have moved as a
community to broader topics over the last several years. Given that
we have had the opportunity to vote for narrower alternatives on each
ballot, I presume that we must grant some perceived community need
for broad topics. I am preparing a proposal and rationale to suggest
that our problem is the crafting of a one-size fits all resolution.
I would like us to consider the possibility of offering tournament
directors (either singly or in concert with regional or other
organizations) the right to craft their own resolutions within the
parameters of the problem area voted on by the organization.
CEDA/NDT/ADA would craft a national resolution that would be the
resolution for each of the national tournaments and presumably the
default for invitational tournaments throughout the year
(particularly national circuit tournaments). But the "free market"
could pose limited or subset resolutions for individual or a group of
tournaments (or for specific divisions - ie. a tournament could offer
national topic debate and a parallel limited preparation division).
We would/could encourage local tournament directors to
experiment with both topic and format innovations so that our
organizations could be the engine for positive reform rather than
finding ourselves competing with it or reacting defensively to it.
Obviously tournament directors can innovate now and can even offer
alternative topic wordings (though the latter would be at the expense
of CEDA sanctioning at present). My suggestion is that we should
reward rather than "punish" such innovation. Ultimately, I think
that potential variability in topic wording, particularly the option
to debate subsets of the resolution, might significantly change the
preparation equation, giving regional programs the opportunity to
limit their preparation to a more doable task.
I apologize for not having all of my ducks in a row in discussing
this alternative - details will follow. But Tuna has rightly
chastised me for not offering the positive proposals that I asked for
in my post. Let's start talking.
> I've got some ideas for making team topic debate available for many schools
> without saying that everyone has to like it. If you have a better solution
> let's see it so I can start working on it.
Trust me - I'm not criticizing Tuna's initiatives. My call is to
take them seriously, whatever they might be. I simply don't want the
dialogue to die with a misplaced belief that we are reaching the
> With respect to Gary Larson,
> A. C. Snider, University of Vermont
Thanks for your concern.
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