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The Door Is Open
I do not say this because I want to undermine NDT, but because I want NDT
schools to have exposure to our side of this issue.
1. NDT teams and schools will find that they are welcome in CEDA, either
weekend by weekend or full-time. Since coming over to CEDA in the 80's I
have been welcomed warmly, and I do not know of any school who came over
who felt shunned. Emory students who had debated mostly NDT have been
respected and received standing ovations when receiving speaker awards at
2. CEDA has done an excellent job of promoting diversity in terms of race
and gender. Our outstanding women leaders, such as Brenda Logue, Pam Stepp,
and Carrie Crenshaw have had a lot to do with it, and I think they have
helped their CEDA male colleagues understand how important this is. We need
to do more and race and we are and we will.
3. CEDA has other kinds of diversity.
-Levels of competition: Novice, JV, varsity. Our squad has all 3 and
CEDA gives us that. In the East, for example, novice divisions are
traditionally the largest.
-Proximity of tournaments: local, regional, national. If you want a
kick ass intense national circuit, we have it, but we also have regional
tournaments which stretch your budget and compress your weekend, with many
6 round 2 day tournaments.
-Types of programs: well funded, not so well funded, and not funded at
all. Programs like NYU and SUNY-Morrisville can get a start even with a few
hundred dollars, and others have large budgets and large travel. In the
East we regularly waive fees for underfunded and new programs as well as
try and help with housing.
-Different coaching configurations: Some programs have large coaching
staffs, others have small staffs, others have part time coaches, and some
have no coaches at all. Schools like Berkeley and Binghamton are entirely
-Diversity of styles: I train my students to debate for flow judges
and for delivery judges, and you will get them. You can target one style
over another by selecting tournaments, but you can't escape stylistic
diversity, especially at our nationals. I may complain from time to time,
but on balance it is an excellent form of training for my students. CEDA
debaters learn to adapt.
-Researchers: Some squads have research staff, many do not. I haven't
seen it as a critical element in competitive success in CEDA, although good
cards never hurt.
4. You know you can go to Nationals every year. Everyone is invited. We
also have large and well organized JV and Novice nationals.
5. You will not be alone. Many of your former colleagues are already over
here and have been for some time. You may not like all of them but they are
6. The CEDA Executive Committee has not been trying to force an either-or
choice. There has been talk of holding CEDA nats on a different weekend
than NDT and trying to make our topic areas match up a little better.
In the late 1980's David Berube, Steve Dolley, and I had a tough choice to
make. Given the nature of debate in New England, there simply weren't
enough tournaments to go to on a local basis and no opportunities for our
younger, less experienced debaters. We were spending too much of our budget
to fly to distant tournaments and the entry barriers for novices were too
high. I had spent my entire life as an NDT coach, at places like Boston
College, Kansas, and Wayne State. I wanted to stay in NDT. But, the
realities of our budget and our educational mission required that we
It has worked out well for us. It hasn't always been easy and sweet,
however. BUT, each school is unique. Each administration, each coach, and
each student body is different. I urge people to do what is right for THEM
and for THEIR STUDENTS.
With NDT, CEDA, APDA, NPDA, NEDA, and now a growing interest in LD, there
are many ways students and programs can be served. I hope that this
diversity of formats continues. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Debate arrow
I know that some will see this as an attack on NDT by trying to "lure away"
some of its members. I think that seeing this in that sort of simplicity is
incorrect. It isn't an issue of "us" versus "them," but an issue of what
sort of debate fits your school, your staff, and your students. CEDA may
not be right for you, it may not be enough like NDT, or you may want to get
away from evidence debate totally and try parli. No matter what, there are
options. If CEDA fails to meet our needs, I will ditch it.
Feel free to ask me about CEDA if you are interested.
Alfred C. Snider AKA Tuna; Edwin W. Lawrence Professor of Forensics,
University of Vermont
Mail: Box 54225, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405-4225; Phone: 802-656-0097, Fax:
DEBATE CENTRAL: http://beluga.uvm.edu/debatecentral/dc.html;
LAWRENCE DEBATE UNION: http://beluga.uvm.edu/debatecentral/ldu.html
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