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Re: A second proposal for the novice division.
Fair warning: I'm about to go off; if you find that boring, blip out
I've been kidding around with this whole SDSS "movement" for a while,
trying not to take some of the rhetoric too seriously. But some of
it's gotten too personal, and some of it is simply "out of line."
I've never seen a debate organization more positively responsive to
criticism as CEDA. Just try criticizing parli for its "no evidence"
style of debate, and skip over to the ie-l and watch what's been
happening with me for trying to get a couple of the nfa l-d people to
'fess up that nuclear conflict just MIGHT be a relevant issue should
the US and China engage in military escalation (many l-d people have
backchanneled me in support, by the way). Of course, CEDA has
problems. Of course, there have been some bad decisions made, and
others in progress. Find me the perfect organization. But folks,
here beginneth the rant: YOU'RE EITHER PART OF THE SOLUTION, OR
YOU'RE PART OF THE PROBLEM. LET'S TALK ABOUT A COUPLE OF THE
BRILLIANT SOLUTIONS IN THE SDSS WORLD:
1) Narrower topics for novices: Neat new idea, huh? WRONG! This
was proposed on the CEDA-L last year. I did my damndest to get the
leader of the SDSS to sign up for a committee to create the narrow
topic--to no avail. GUESS WHO IS ACTUALLY DOING IT??? "THE MAN!!!"
Although I doubt that Carrie Crenshaw (who I believe is heading the
committee) often thinks of herself as a "man." We have a committee
which will be proposing more limited versions of the topic after it
is selected, which doesn't occur until August 1. WHERE HAVE THE SDSS
PEOPLE BEEN??? It's a lot easier to sit around and whine about "the
man" than it is to spend a great deal of our copious spare time
ACTUALLY SOLVING PROBLEMS.
2) Predictable case lists. CEDA people (particularly Josh Hoe) have
been at the forefront of making this a reality for at least the last
two years. But I tried to initiate discussion of other problems with
this concept last spring to no avail. I think a FAR MORE SEVERE
PROBLEM lies in trying to explain to novices why they can run their
affirmative case, then listen while the "negative" (what does that
word mean anymore?) gets up and runs THEIR affirmative case. If I
can't even get the concepts of affirmative and negative ground clear
for my novices, what good is a freakin' case list anyway? And don't
give me the standard operational bullshit about "plan focus" means
"affirmative" presents a plan and anything else is therefore
"negative." If that's all the words "affirmative" or "negative"
mean, then there's no reason not to just start designating teams "1"
and "2." Or "you" and "youse." My point: designated case lists are
NOT going to solve "the problem" with keeping novices in debate.
They may be part of the solution, but until we get some pedagogy into
our activity, it's still going to be "anything goes"--and only people
who have mucho hs experience, multiple institutes, and lots of spare
time are going to succeed toward the upper echelons of debate.
3) Topic selection. Some SDSS proponents wax eloquent about the
"good old days" of "narrow" CEDA topics. Must not have been debating
in the midwest. Every damn one of those topics exploded by mid-
semester. And how great were those topics? Many placed presumption
with the affirmative. Many had wording that could be easily twisted
to make the topic mean something else entirely, or to define either
team out of the round--same problems we're having now. And the
PROCESS for topic selection was horrible--conference calls and
guesswork. Now, we have an ELECTED (not "selected") topic committee
which meets and works hard to analyze TOPIC PAPERS submitted by the
membership. The people writing these topic papers have gone to
considerable trouble to examine the wording and the literature, and
the committee is probably the most open process in the history of
intercollegiate debate. I listed the topic committee members in an
earlier post--COME ON, SDSS; WHICH OF THESE PEOPLE ARE "THE MAN"???
Why did no SDSS members submit a topic paper? Could anyone have
possibly believed that ANY topic on SE Asia could be "narrow"?
Maybe; that's another debate. But, again, I hear a lot of whining
after the fact from people who didn't appear when the work was being
OK, I guess my emotions are evening out. I have great respect for
people on both sides of this issue. But we have to get out of this
"us against them" mentality. CEDA is an open process; become part of
the solution. And let's stop with insulting sexist militaristic
rhetoric which can have no positive effect on anything whatsoever.
> Date sent: Sat, 19 Jul 1997 15:58:17 CST
> Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
> From: BOB ALEXANDER <email@example.com>
> To: Issues concerning CEDA Debate <CEDA-L@cornell.edu>
> Subject: A second proposal for the novice division.
> Originally to: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Thank you to all who commented on my first suggestion of subsets of the rez for
> novice divisions. I'm not backing away from my advocacy, but offering another
> opinion of how we could better serve the first-time debaters wanting to join
> our programs.....mandatory case lists.
> One of the toughest things to explain (and indeed often discourages individuals
> from joining programs) to true novice debaters is that they will have absolutelyno idea of what they will be debating until the round starts, or perhaps 5
> minutes before, if the team discloses. This, obviously, significantly inhibits
> a novices ability to prepare. They need not have a complete flow of the case
> so they can "prep-out"; but if we could at least tell them, "you will be going
> negative 3 times on Friday/Saturday against 3 of these 10 cases" then they
> would have some time to think/ask questions about the cases. The result would
> be a better case debate from the negative, also forcing the affirmative to
> offer better explanations of there affirmative--overall better debate!!!
> For those who believe in the in-round education value of debate (I do), the
> in-round debate would be better, thereby increasing education. Furthermore,
> we would be able to offer the assurance to our first time competitors that they
> will know what they will be debating.
> For these reasons, I propose:
> 1) Individual tournaments establish a mandatory case list rule for novice
> divisions. When entry's are made, the plan's which may be run by novice
> teams should be disclosed at this time. (option-just prelims or entire
> tournament, something to consider).
> 2) Once entries are finalized, this info should be made known to all schools
> with competitors in the novice divisions.
> 3) All novice teams are required to run an affirmative case from the list
> which they submitted.
> Obviously there are potentials for abuse which follow:
> Coaches wishing to take advantage of the system could submit a dozen cases
> for each team, knowing they will only run one. Others will submit variations
> of plans written intentionally vague, as to mask the true intent of case.
> Etc. However, what this asks is for us to develop a prioritization for
> winning/education + involvement. If winning is your primary goal, this
> plan is not for you, bottom line. However, those who truly care about education, you can relate to the objectives of such a plan, and seek to develop a
> similar, workable proposal.
> Let's work to put this in practice for 97-98
> Bob Alexander,
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