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Re: Eligibility-1 Year Extension Plan
Although I have the utmost respect for Gary Larson and I usually find
myself agreeing with most of the arguments he makes, I definately
disagree with his position on changing eligibility requirements.
Although there are a lot of different ideas for how we as an
organization can address the problem of eligibility requirements, I
think we need to see that the change will not come all at once and that
it will have to be an evolutionary process by which we can incrementally
make changes. Regardless of whether or not I believe we should
completely abolish eligibility requirements, I do believe that would be
too radical a step for our organization to make at this time. What I do
support is the following:
* Changing the 8 semesters/4 Nationals rule to 10 semesters/5 nationals
* Changing Article VII of the CEDA Constitution to allow Enrolled
Graduate Students to compete in Inter-Collegiate Debate without
restriction or need of petition from the Executive Council.
Why do I think this would be a good change for our organization. Before
addressing Gary's arguments, some initial observations:
* The NCAA allows students to compete as Graduate students if they have
eligibility remaining. Why can't CEDA do the same?
* Students can stop playing the game of extending their undergraduate
years artificially to allow them to debate. I know for myself that I
graduated in 4 years but I put a lot of thought into artificially
extending my "undergraduate experience" so that I could debate some more
(I graduated with a year and a half of eligibility and 2 CEDA Nationals
* I believe students will finish their undergraduate program on time (or
at least in less time than currently) if they know they won't lose their
* In the last four years, I have judged a number of students that were
older than me and had enough credits to graduate but were prolonging
their undergraduate days. Why do we encourage this behavior? If these
students have enough credits for an undergraduate degree (or two) than
why do we continue to allow this artificial distintion of the B.A. to be
the ultimate standard of determining eligibility. Shouldn't supporters
of the status quo really support making the eligibility standard a
maximum credit cap instead of the degree? This would create a host of
* I've had a lot of students turn away from debate because they were
Juniors or Seniors and they didn't want to engage in an activity that
they would only have two years to master. I believe that at least some
of these students would debate if they knew that they could compete as
* I don't believe that this rule change would effect that great a
population. Most students will be out of eligibility by the time they
graduate so all we are doing is protecting the rights of the minority of
students out there that finish up degree programs before they run out of
* The inherent contradiction in the reasoning employed by supporters of
the status quo is that on one hand they will recognize that it takes
many students longer to finish their degree programs now thab say 10
years ago. They will also argue that removing the B.A. requirement will
have a lot of people in Graduate Schools debating. If students are
taking considerably more time to graduate than what makes you believe
that we will have so many students enrolled in Graduate School that have
any eligibility left.
* Most of the students that would benefit from such a change would not
be "career debaters" since most of them debated in High School and
started right away in college. The students that would benefit are
students that were not exposed to debate in High School or early in
their college careers (like myself).
* Imagine how many more people will be turned on to debate if we
actually were able to recruit older students and graduate students. If
we are really concerned about our shrinking numbers, I can't see why the
"10/5 and graduate students eligible" rule is such a bad idea.
Now on to what Gary had to say:
So why should we care at all? Eliminating all eligibility requirements
treats everyone "equitably". But there are several reasons to place
limits on eligibility. 1) The requirement that debaters be "students"
clearly demanded by the majority of institutions and departments that
2) In many cases, funding and other forms of institutional
support would be clearly limited to undergraduate students (particularly
institutions with only undergraduate programs and programs that fund
debate from undergraduate student fees).
Why is this anargument. If equity is the issue, than why don't we ban
the use of GA's as assistant coaches in order to be fair to the small
college program? There are a lot worse things that decrease equity that
need to be addressed before this issue.
3) Even if we weren't concerned
about the programmatic inequities that would be created, I am concerned
the blurring of the line between coaching and competing.
This issue needs to be dealt with by a responsible DOF. A responsible
DOF should be able to handle the blurred distinction between
coaching/debating and the blurred distinction between judging/debating
could be handled with a rule that does not allow a Graduate Student to
debate and judge either while in the same time block (reasonable) or
even the same year (a bit unreasonable, but at least it reduces the
problem.) So for example, Korcok and Larson (man would that be an
interesting team) couldn't debate at SIU and then go judge the next week
significantly on graduate students to coach and judge in our activity.
Many of these would still have eligibility.
I question just how high this number really is. I would argue that most
people that stick with the activity past the undergraduate level are not
doing it for the money and not for the lovely travel schedule or even
the tremendous accomodations that they get on weekends. They are doing
it because they love debate. Most (not all) people that love debate
that much will finish their eligibility before graduating.
Additionally, Grad School is pretty tough. How many folks with
eligibility will actually want to debate while in Grad. School?
How would the activity find a
principled way to distinguish the two groups?
4) I am also concerned that
GA support could (or would) be used for participants rather than
I don't think many D.O.F.'s will say "Boy, I'd love to use my two
assistantships on coaches to help me out but instead, I'll use my T.A.
positions for two more debaters so I get to do all of the coaching by
myself! Who needs any Graduate Assistant Coaches! Just give me more
debaters! I can do it all by myself!" Highly unlikely scenario.
Since GA support often is significantly greater than UG scholarship
support, this could create another significant resource inequity (most
schools in the activity do not have GA lines in comm depts (or others)
that could be used to support debaters.
First of all, I question the significance of this argument. Secondly,
If using one of your assistantships from a Graduate Debater means you
lose an assistant coach, than how is the inequity gap widened? You gain
a debater and lose a coach. The overall number of squad personnel stays
the same. Lastly, I think the turn on this argument is that there are
more programs with GTA support (assistantships and stipends) than
scholarship support for undergraduate debaters. Theoretically, a small
to midsize program with no debate scholarship money but with support for
GTA's (like Syracuse) could use their graduate assistant monies on
someone with eligibility left, thus increasing equity. If a D.O.F. is
willing to work without (or with reduced) an assistant, they could
actually have scholarship money for a graduate debater.
I guess you can say that I support the "10/5 and graduate Students can
debate rule. I just don't think there is a compelling argument beyond
tradition or fear of the unknown that should keep us as a community from
changing our current eligibility guidelines. Thanks for reading.
Frank P. Irizarry Office # (315) 443-5143
Director of Debate Home # (607) 749-8715
Syracuse University Fax # (315) 443-5143
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
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