Its debatable…Speak Up!

April 30, 2010

“Great Debate” = Great Success

I am writing about an exciting new speaking opportunity CSU Chico and the Chico City Council has introduced to our community this semester and which it looks like we will be continuing into future semesters.  Designated as the “Great Debate”, this was a one-day event that took place at our City Council Chambers (and two additional meeting rooms in that facility) and involved students from our Small Group, Public Speaking, Argumentation and Debate, Forensics, and some select English classes.  The process actually began before this semester, when we met with the Assistant City Manager for Chico, who was looking for a way to foster more healthy and civil discussions at City Council meetings and other political events in the area.  We discussed controversial issues that would be of interest to the citizens of Chico as well as the students and landed on the Tax, Regulate and Control Act of 2010 – a marijuana legalization initiative that will appear on the California ballot in November.

We had stakeholders from the community come to campus and do presentations and answer interview questions from the English students, who then posted the interviews on a website for review.  We assigned students in select sections of Small Group communication a group presentation representing a specific stakeholder group in the debate – law enforcement, recreational users, medicinal marijuana users, addiction counselors/health care workers, local/county officials, and state legislators.  The presentation was designed to be an informative presentation on the stakeholders position.  Public Speaking students from select sections of the Public Speaking course were assigned a persuasive speech on marijuana legalization – taking either the pro or con stance.  Argumentation and Debate students researched and wrote affirmative and negative cases on adopting the initiative in the State of California.  Finally, two debaters from the Forensics team were assigned to do a demo debate on the issue for the “main event”.  Top performers in each of the classes were invited to present at the City Council offices throughout the day, with webcasting being done for those presenting in the City Council Chambers.

The “main event” consisted of the team debaters from the Forensics team doing a debate on the initiative, followed by a debate between community members who are active in the marijuana legalization debate.  The debate between the two debate team members was amazing – it was a proud moment for me and I think the audience and the community members who had to follow them were extremely impressed.  Footage of them made up the bulk of the local TV coverage at 11 p.m. last night!  The debate between the community members was also impressive – respectful, insightful, educational, and truly representational of what can be done when you get rid of the hostility and partisanship that often is involved in these debates.  The speeches were not designed to be filled with sound bytes, but actually included research, studies, and valuable information for the audience-members.

I’m not sure that anyone’s mind was changed or made-up because of the events that took place in yesterday’s Great Debate, but I can tell you that students were made to feel like what they had to say mattered for something other than a grade.  Community members were made to feel like their opinions were important, but were not the ONLY opinions that mattered.  Faculty were shown that students can do amazing things when empowered and given a forum.  Finally, the community was shown that contentious issues need not be discussed in a contentious way, but instead can be presented in an open forum, with both sides well-represented and articulately explaining their position without ad homs or anger.  I think we all learned a lot from the experience and I look forward to learning more each semester from this program.

Here are some additional links to coverage of the event:

TV coverage of daytime student presentations

Newspaper coverage of evening events

I encourage all of you to explore ways to reach out to your community if you are not already doing so.  I was shocked to hear from one of the initiative’s spokespersons that this was the FIRST forum of its kind on this initiative!  This initiative has received nationwide attention and has been in the media for months.  I can’t imagine this being the first forum that involved both sides in a format that allowed both sides to present their concerns and their hopes and their fears.  What better way to foster good decision-making in a democracy?  If you are in California and would like to put a similar program together in your area, I know the initiative representatives are interested and I bet you can find some community members who are also interested.  Its a great way to have your students see the value of debate and public speaking in the public arena and I really can’t say enough good things about our experience!


June 13, 2009

Gordon Mitchell on Ethics and Evidence – Repost from edebate 5-18-09

Filed under: Academics,Blogging,Debate,Pedagogy,Research,Technology — bk2nocal @ 1:23 pm

The following is a repost of an edebate post from Gordon Mitchell, Director of UPitt’s William Pitt Debating Union.  It is one of the most comprehensive and useful posts on ethics and evidence I have seen to date.  I believe this will be a big issue in the coming years in debate and getting ahead of the curve as far as evaluating evidence is concerned will be helpful.


What is a legitimate source to cite as evidence in a policy debate contest round? Should forensic specialists publish material that addresses the topic area on which they are currently coaching? How can members of the policy debate community relate their simulation-based research to “real world” decision-making and analysis of relevant policy issues?

These questions about publicity and publication have received extended treatment recently on debate lists and discussion boards, with conversation sparked by specific events. On the high school level, controversy swirled in the wake of revelations that a high school coach apparently published a topic-relevant article using a pseudonym with fictitious credentials (Marburry, 2009). Then two Center for Strategic and International Studies analysts (CSIS JY, 2009, 8) successfully persuaded college debaters and forensics specialists to select nuclear weapons policy as the 2009-2010 intercollegiate policy debate topic area, in part by claiming, “there will be a demand for your expertise in the policy analysis community.”

Roughly speaking, the act of publishing entails preparing material for public uptake, and then announcing the event to facilitate circulation. For many years, this process was structured largely as an economic transaction between authors and printing press owners, with editors often serving as gatekeepers who would vet and filter material. Readers relied on markers of professionalism (quality of print and ink, circulation, reputation of editors) to judge the relative credibility of publications. In the academy, referees employed similar metrics to assess a given writer’s degree of scholarly authority, metrics that were rooted in principles of publication scarcity and exclusivity – that a scholar’s caliber was in part demonstrated by his or her ability to persuade editors to publish their work.

Acceleration of Internet communication and the advent of digital online publication destabilized these arrangements fundamentally. Publication, previously a one-to-many transaction, has become a many-to-many enterprise unfolding across a complex latticework of internetworked digital nodes. Now weblogs, e-books, online journals, and print-on-demand book production and delivery systems make it possible for a whole new population of prospective authors to publish material in what Michael Jensen (2008), National Academy of Sciences Director of Strategic Web Communications, calls an “era of content democracy and abundance.”

In content abundance, the key challenge for readers and referees has less to do with finding scarce information, and more to do with sorting wheat from the proverbial chaff (the ever-burgeoning surplus of digital material available online). The pressing nature of this information-overload challenge has spurred invention of what Jensen (2007) calls “new metrics of scholarly authority” – essentially, new ways of measuring the credibility and gravitas of knowledge producers in a digital world of content abundance.

For Jensen, traditional “authority 1.0” metrics, such as book reviews, peer-reviewed journal publications, and journal “impact factors,” are gradually being supplanted in popular culture by “authority 2.0” metrics such as Google page ranks, blog post trackbacks, and diggs. Jensen’s point is not that these new metrics of scholarly authority are necessarily superior to the old measurement tools, or that they are especially reliable or appropriate for assessing any given author’s credibility (especially in an academic context). His point is that they are developing very fast, and becoming more widespread as markers of intellectual gravitas: “Scholarly authority, the nuanced, deep, perspective-laden authority we hold dear, is under threat by the easily-computable metrics of popularity, famousness, and binary votes, which are amplified by the nature of abundance-jaded audiences” (Jensen, 2008, 25).

While Jensen (2008, 25) sees this current trend from an era to content scarcity to an era of content abundance as a “revolutionary shift,” a “cultural U-turn so extreme it’s hard to comprehend,” he also eschews determinism by stipulating that this “is a transformation we can influence.” One key avenue of influence entails invention and refinement of what Jensen calls “authority 3.0” metrics – sophisticated instruments that track and measure knowledge creation and dissemination in ways that blend traditional “authority 1.0” principles such as peer review with newfangled digital tools like Reference Finder (a National Academies Press “fuzzy matching” search tool) and Microsoft’s Photosynth.

How does this relate to the world of policy debate? Certainly the new metrics present tools for debaters to measure the credibility of online publications, a task that is becoming increasingly salient as digital material increasingly finds its way into contest rounds (see e.g. Alderete, 2009; Phillips, 2009). But there are also other connections. Jensen’s brother was a successful high school debater under Randy McCutcheon at East High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, so Jensen knows all about inherency, index cards and spewdown delivery. And in the debate community’s early efforts at collaborative online knowledge production (such as DebateResults, Planet Debate, and caselist wikis), Jensen sees seeds of new metrics of scholarly authority.

Consider what takes place in a debate tournament contest round, one held under today’s conditions of digitally networked transparency. Debaters present their research on both sides of a given topic, citing evidence to support their claims. Those claims (and increasingly, the precise citations or exact performative elements supporting them) are often transcribed and then uploaded to a publicly available digital archive. The yield is a remarkably intricate and detailed map of a whole set of interwoven policy controversies falling under the rubric of yearlong national policy debate resolution. Who cares about this? Of course debaters and forensics specialists preparing for the next tournament take interest, as the map provides a navigational tool that leverages preparation for future contests. But recall the CSIS JY (2009) pitch to college debaters and forensics specialists researching nuclear weapons policy: “There will be a demand for your expertise in the policy analysis comm
unity.” Let us reflect on how this demand could manifest, and how intercollegiate debate might meet it halfway.

* Professional training. On a most basic level, the CSIS JY “public merits” case for the nuclear weapons policy topic area is colored by the legacy of William Taylor, former vice president and now senior adviser at CSIS. Taylor created a fellowship program that brought recently graduated intercollegiate debaters to Washington, D.C. for work at his highly influential security think tank. Since 1997, a host of former debaters have utilized their debate research skills in applied policy analysis for CSIS, often on nuclear issues. Meanwhile, other former debaters have ascended to prominent posts in academia, where they often mentor scholars on nuclear policy. In this respect, debate training on nuclear policy today might result in career advancement in a research field tomorrow, where there is “demand” for the unique type of skill-set honed in the crucible of debate competition. These types of opportunities could be cultivated further by through informal recruitment channels, inf
ormation exchange, and perhaps development of additional fellowship programs modeled on the CSIS Taylor initiative.

* Digital debate archive (DDA) as a public research resource. With refinement (perhaps through incorporation of Django, GeNIe and SMILE web tools), online caselist wikis could be transformed into publicly accessible databases designed to provide policy-makers, journalists, and others resources for interactive study of the nuclear weapons policy controversy. Let’s say a reporter for the Global Security Newswire is following the START arms control beat. She could visit the DDA and not only pull up hundreds of the contest rounds where arms control was debated; she could click through to find out how certain teams deployed similar arguments, which citations were getting the most play, which sources were cited most frequently by winning teams, and which citations on arms control were new at the last tournament. Such post-mortem analysis of the debate process could enable non-debaters to “replay the chess match” that took place at unintelligible speed during a given contest round (
Jensen, 2009; see also Woods, et al., 2006).

* Authority 3.0 metrics. The marriage of a DDA with Jon Bruschke’s ingenious DebateResults online resource could pave the way for a host of new statistical measures with great salience for a wide array of audiences. Internally, the debate community could benefit from development of a new set of measures and corresponding rewards associated with research outcomes. Who are the most productive individual researchers in the nation? The most original? Which debater or forensics specialist has the greatest “research impact factor” (a possible metric measuring the persons whose arguments tend to be picked up and replicated most by others in contest round competition). A system for tracking and publishing answers to these questions could open up a new symbolic reward economy, with potential to counter the drift toward sportification entailed in strict tournament-outcome oriented reward structure. The same system could be used to track frequency and mode of source citations, yielding
statistics that could answer such questions as: Which experts on nuclear weapons policy are cited most frequently in contest rounds? Which experts are cited most broadly (on a wide range of sub-topics)? When a given expert is sided by one side, who are the experts most likely to be cited by the opposing side? Scholars are increasingly using similar data to document their research impact during professional reviews (see Meho, 2007). Since the intercollegiate policy debate is driven by an intellectual community committed to the rigorous standards of evidence analysis and argument testing, a strong case could be made that citation in that community is more meaningful than an website hit indicating that a scholar’s work product was viewed by an anonymous person browsing the Internet (this is a good example of the difference between a 3.0 and 2.0 scholarly metric).

* Publication of policy analysis. One exemplar of this mode of engagement comes from the 1992-1993 intercollegiate policy debate season, when the University of Texas extended its advocacy of a Flood Action Plan affirmative case beyond the contest round grid: “The skills honed during preparation for and participation in academic debate can be utilized as powerful tools in this regard. Using sophisticated research, critical thinking, and concise argument presentation, argumentation scholars can become formidable actors in the public realm, advocating on behalf of a particular issue, agenda, or viewpoint. For competitive academic debaters, this sort of advocacy can become an important extension of a long research project culminating in a strong personal judgment regarding a given policy issue and a concrete plan to intervene politically in pursuit of those beliefs. For example, on the 1992-93 intercollegiate policy debate topic dealing with U.S. development assistance policy, th
e University of Texas team ran an extraordinarily successful affirmative case that called for the United States to terminate its support for the Flood Action Plan, a disaster-management program proposed to equip the people of Bangladesh to deal with the consequences of flooding. During the course of their research, Texas debaters developed close working links with the International Rivers Network, a Berkeley-based social movement devoted to stopping the Flood Action Plan. These links not only created a fruitful research channel of primary information to the Texas team; they helped Texas debaters organize sympathetic members of the debate community to support efforts by the International Rivers Network to block the Flood Action Plan. The University of Texas team capped off an extraordinary year of contest round success arguing for a ban on the Flood Action Plan with an activist project in which team members supplemented contest round advocacy with other modes of political org
anizing. Specifically, Texas debaters circulated a petition calling for suspension of the Flood Action Plan, organized channels of debater input to ‘pressure points’ such as the World Bank and U.S. Congress, and solicited capital donations for the International Rivers Network. In a letter circulated publicly to multiple audiences inside and outside the debate community, Texas assistant coach Ryan Goodman linked the arguments of the debate community to wider public audiences by explaining the enormous competitive success of the ban Flood Action Plan affirmative on the intercollegiate tournament circuit. The debate activity, Goodman wrote, ‘brings a unique aspect to the marketplace of ideas. Ideas most often gain success not through politics, the persons who support them, or through forcing out other voices through sheer economic power, but rather on their own merit’ (1993). To emphasize the point that this competitive success should be treated as an important factor in public
policy-making, Goodman compared the level of rigor and intensity of debate research and preparation over the course of a year to the work involved in completion of masters’ thesis” (Mitchell, 1998).

Regarding the latter engagement mode, publication of policy analysis, it is illuminating to compare the 1992-1993 Texas Flood Action Plan initiative with Justin Skarb’s recent publication of debate-related research on solar-powered satellites with Space Review. While the work products stemming from both projects evince a level of polish and detail that is de rigueur for advocates trained in the art of policy debate, there are significant differences. One significant difference concerns representation of authorship status to external audiences, with the Texas project backed by the actual identities of the debaters and forensics specialists who worked on the development assistance topic, and the Skarb piece carrying the pseudonym “John Marburry” (replete with fictitious qualifications). Although use of pen names by authors is uncommon, it is sometimes justified under special circumstances, and even celebrated in fantastic cases. However, in these exceptional instances (e.g. for
mer CIA analyst Michael Scheuer’s publication of a book by Brassey’s as “anonymous”), usually readers gain confidence that the editor knows the author’s real identity, and sanctions use of a pen name for a justified reason. As Space Review editor Jeff Foust’s account attests, this did not appear to be the case in the Skarb affair:

“I added the note crediting Skarb the same day the article was originally published (April 27), after getting a request to do so from ‘Marburry’ (he said that the omission was an oversight because ‘neither of them’ were sure the article would even be published, and that if it was not possible to do so it was fine with him.)  At the time I had no reason to believe that Marburry was not who he said he was, or that he was the same person as Skarb.  I am waiting to hear back from Marburry/Skarb regarding this situation.” (Foust, 2009)

A second level of distinction is that the Texas project transparently links contest round research with public advocacy, drawing explicitly upon the academic debate experience to ground public claims regarding undesirability of the Flood Action Plan. In contrast, the Skarb piece is opaque with respect to its origin as a work product flowing from debate research on the 2008-2009 interscholastic alternative energy topic. The result of such opacity is a missed opportunity for Skarb to highlight the methodology of debate as constitutive of his work product, an aspect that CSIS JY suggests may be especially appealing for external audiences.

To more fully unpack this final point, it may be useful to revisit David Zarefsky’s (1972, 1979) theory of academic debate as hypothesis testing. During the heyday of policy debate’s “paradigm wars,” hypothesis testing had its share of adherents, some in the judging ranks who applied the paradigm as a tool for adjudication of individual contest rounds, and others in the debating ranks, who used the paradigm to justify certain argumentative strategies (e.g. multiple, conditional and contradictory negative counterplans).

Lost in this process of reduction was Zarefsky’s vision of academic debate as a vehicle to transport the theory and practice of argumentation to wider society (see e.g. Sillars & Zarefsky, 1975; Zarefsky, 1980). Hypothesis testing, in this wider frame, was a construct for establishing the gravitas and authority of forensics specialists in conversations about the nature of argumentation beyond the contest round setting. Here, the analogy linking debate to scientific hypothesis testing was not designed to show how debate itself was a scientific process, but rather to alert external audiences to the fact that academic debate, while deviating significantly from established patterns of scientific inquiry, features its own set of rigorous procedures for the testing of argumentative hypothesis. Skarb missed a chance to leverage his claims regarding solar power satellite policy by making a similar point, an oversight that future attempts of a similar sort might do well to bear in min


Alderete, T. (2009). Just musings and questions. Standards for Evidence thread. website. May 13.

CSIS JY. (2009). Nuclear policy topic paper — draft. April 23. Cross Examination Debate Association website. Online at

Foust, J. (2009). Personal correspondence with the author. May 14.

Jensen, M. (2007). The new metrics of scholarly authority. Chronicle of Higher Education, June 15. Online at:

Jensen, M. (2008). Scholarly authority in the age of abundance: Retaining relevance within the new landscape. Keynote address at the JSTOR Annual Participating Publisher’s Conference. May 13. Online at:

Jensen, M. (2009). Personal correspondence with the author. February 27.

Marburry, J. (2009). Space-based solar power: right here, right now? Space Review, April 27. Online at:

Meho, L.I. (2007). The rise and rise of citation analysis. Physics World, January, 32-36.

Mitchell, G.R. (1998). Pedagogical possibilities for argumentative agency in academic debate. Argumentation & Advocacy, 35, 41-60.

Phillips, S. (2009). SPS article controversy. The 3NR: A Collaborative Blog about High School Policy Debate. May 11. Online at:

Sillars, M.O. & D. Zarefsky. (1975). Future goals and roles of forensics. In J.H. McBath (Ed.), Forensics as communication: The argumentative perspective (pp. 83-93). Skokie, Illinois: National Textbook Company.

Woods, C., Brigham, M., Konishi, T., Heavner, B. Rief, J., Saindon, B., & Mitchell, G.R. (2006). Deliberating debate’s digital futures. Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, 27, 81-105.

Zarefsky, D. (1972). A reformulation of the concept of presumption. Paper presented at the Central States Speech Association Convention. April 7. Chicago, Illinois.

Zarefsky, D. (1979). Argument as hypothesis-testing. In David A. Thomas (Ed.), Advanced debate: Readings in theory, practice and teaching (pp. 427-437). Skokie, Illinois: National Textbook Company.

Zarefsky, D. (1980). Argumentation and forensics. In J. Rhodes & S. Newell (Eds.), Proceedings of the summer conference on argumentation (pp. 20-25). Annandale, Virginia: Speech Communication Association.

March 25, 2009

Debate as Curriculum

Filed under: Academics,Debate,Instructional Ideas,Pedagogy — bk2nocal @ 11:02 pm

I remember joking around with people I went to college with that I wanted to start my own charter high school where all of the curriculum matter revolved around the high school debate topic for the year.  It would be the perfect way to solve the competition between homework and debate research – they would both be one and the same.  Considering the breadth of arguments on any debate topic, there is no reason you could not tie the topic into just about any class subject matter.  Of course, this was just a joke…but, then I read this post on a tech and learning blog that referred to this article about a district in Colorado that is switching over to student-designed curriculum, joint grades, etc.

So, if debaters could design their own curriculum, would they learn more than they learn in traditional classes?  Would they work harder at it?  Interesting thought…

March 22, 2008

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Meeting at CEDA

Filed under: Community Outreach,Debate,Forensics - General,Pedagogy — bk2nocal @ 6:17 pm

Saturday at CEDA Nationals we held a drop-in informational discussion on current issues in debate, including but not limited to the discrimination and sexual harassment policies for the CEDA National Tournament and beyond. The Sexual Harassment Officers (SHOs) for this year are myself (Sue Peterson) and ML Sandoz from Vanderbilt. For those unfamiliar with the constitution, there are two sections in the document pertaining to the discussion. First, the Statement of Ethical Principles:

Preamble: The Cross Examination Debate Association is committed to promoting ethical communication behavior. Its members recognize that the adversarial and competitive nature of academic debate places participants students, educators, judges and tournament administrators in the position of having to weigh the merits of competing strategies that may have ethical implications. This Article attempts to set forth the aspirations of the Association for ethical and
educational debate activity. It is hoped that this statement of ethical principles will promote behavior and discussion which ensure the long-term growth and survival of intercollegiate debate.
Section 1: Competitor Practices
Students competing in CEDA debate contests share a unique opportunity to develop their abilities to analyze, research, organize, evaluate and communicate ideas and to experience personal growth. This opportunity is maximized when participants recognize their responsibility to preserve and promote the educational benefits of intercollegiate debate.
A. Participation
Participants in CEDA debate should recognize that their academic program is more important than their competitive success. Minimally, students who compete in CEDA debate should be in good standing at and be making normal progress toward a degree from the institution which they represent in competition. Maximally, students who compete in CEDA debate will apply their developing abilities in such a way as to achieve the very best academic standing of which they are capable. Sacrificing one’s academic progress for competitive success, or extending one’s college career to excessive length in order to go on debating are behaviors contrary to the goals of this organization While there are exceptional occasions in which a student with a baccalaureate degree wishes to participate in debate (e.g. a non-traditional student seeking certification to teach), CEDA debate is designed to be primarily an undergraduate activity. Competitive fairness is best maintained for all students when eligibility standards and division definitions are respected by all participants. Students should be familiar with the eligibility provisions and division definitions of the CEDA constitution and bylaws and of individual tournaments and should abide by those limits.
B. Competitive Behavior
Students participating in CEDA debate are obligated to adhere to high ethical standards. Such an ethical commitment by debaters is essential because the value of tournament activity is directly dependent upon the integrity of those involved. For that reason, it is the duty of each debater to participate honestly and fairly. Furthermore, students should remember that debate is an oral, interactive process. It is the debater’s duty to aspire to the objective of effective oral expression of ideas. Behaviors which belittle, degrade, demean, or otherwise dehumanize others are not in the best interest of the activity because they interfere with the goals of education and personal growth. The ethical CEDA debater recognizes the rights of others and communicates with respect for opponents, colleagues, critics and audience members. Communication which engenders ill-will and disrespect for forensics ultimately reduces the utility of forensics for all who participate in it and should, therefore, be avoided. Students should recognize the importance of judges to the debate activity. Students should be willing to listen to judges’ statements regarding conduct of rounds suggestions for improvement and reasons for decisions. While debaters should feel free to ask questions of judges, they should be wary of badgering judges for decisions and comments during the course of a tournament; they should recognize that the written ballot is the primary means of communicating reasons for decision and that tournament rules often prohibit revelation of decisions.
C. Use of Debate Materials
The primary creation of argument and the primary research effort in CEDA debate must be the student’s. Students who rely on briefs written or evidence researched by faculty or graduate assistants, on handbook evidence rather than library research, or materials and evidence traded among programs fall short of the goal of maximizing their development as competent arguers and users of evidence. Evidence plays a key role in debate. It is important, therefore, that debaters use evidence responsibly. Responsible use of evidence includes accurate recording and documenting of material, as well as avoidance of plagiarism, misrepresentation, distortion, or fabrication. Debaters are responsible for the integrity of all the evidence they use. Debaters should clearly identify and qualify, during their speeches, the source of all the evidence they use. Omitting the source of evidence denies opponents, judges and the audience the opportunity to evaluate the quality of the information. Claiming another’s written or spoken words as one’s own is plagiarism, a very serious offense against responsible scholarship. Debaters should use only evidence which is in the public domain and, hence, open to critical evaluation by others.

Debaters should not fabricate, distort, or misrepresent evidence. If evidence is misrepresented, distorted, or fabricated, the conclusions drawn from it are meaningless and ethically suspect. Fabrication of evidence refers to falsely representing a cited fact or statement of opinion as evidence when the material in question is not authentic. Distorted evidence refers to misrepresenting the actual or implied content of the factual or opinion evidence. In determining whether evidence has been distorted, debaters should ask if the evidence deviates from the quality, quantity, probability, or degree of force of the author’s position on the particular point in question. Any such deviation should be avoided because such alteration can give undue rhetorical force to an advocate’s argument. Distortions include, but are not limited to:
1. quoting out of context;
2. misinterpreting the evidence so as to alter its meaning;
3. omitting salient information from quotations or paraphrases;
4. adding words to a quotation which were not present in the original source of the evidence without identifying such as addition;
5. failure to provide within a reasonable time complete documentation of the evidence [name of author(s), source of publication, full date, page numbers and author(s) credentials when available in the original] when challenged.
D. Commitment to Program
Debaters should recognize that when they join a forensics program, that program commits substantial teaching and monetary resources to their education and personal growth. Consequently, transferring from one CEDA debate program to another is not encouraged. A student who is considering transferring to another debate program should notify his/her current coach as soon as possible. The student should consult with his/her coach about the desirability of the transfer prior to making the final decision and should notify the former coach as soon as possible after the final decision is made.
Section 2: Educator Practices
Because CEDA debate is primarily an educational activity, forensics educators should emphasize learning before competitive success and should try to pass on this view to their students. It is the responsibility of the forensics educator to maximize the opportunity for ethical development and behavior among all debate participants. Ethical principles for forensics educators participating in CEDA include:

A. Forensics educators should enter student competitors in accordance with national, regional and individual tournament regulations for eligibility.

B. Forensics educators should encourage their students to compete honestly, fairly and ethically in each and every competitive debate round in which they participate.

C. Because students differ in talent, experience, motivation and purpose, forensic educators should adapt pedagogical methods to student needs. In all cases, however, coaching efforts should supplement, not substitute for, student efforts. The primary creation of argument and the primary research effort in debate must be the student’s. Forensics educators may engage in limited research designed to teach students research techniques, demonstrate model evidence or briefs, or identify key areas of argument while teaching scholarly techniques in debate, but the fundamental arguments, cases, briefs and research must be the students’ own.

D. Forensics educators should maintain and teach their students to maintain, the highest ethical principles of logic and reasoning, evidence and behavior in debate. Forensics educators should teach students the principles and objectives of sound reasoning and the value of rigorous scholarship.

E. Forensics educators should encourage behavior that will insure ordinary progress towards the completion of students’ undergraduate degrees. Forensics educators should also recognize the importance of students’ development as whole persons, including positive relationships with family, friends, employers and community.

F. Because all students can benefit from debate experience at some level and because all students, at whatever level, require and deserve coaches’ attention and efforts, forensics educators should treat all students fairly and promote equality of opportunity for appropriate and challenging learning experiences for all students.

G. Forensics educators should recognize that the recruiting and transfer issues in collegiate debate are sensitive ones. The standard in recruiting and transfer should always be the overall best interests of the student. CEDA endorses the following guidelines for forensics educators:

1. Forensics educators should be honest with students concerning the educational opportunities of their schools and of their forensics programs and of the educational opportunities and forensics programs of other institutions

2. Forensics educators should avoid unduly influencing students from another program. When transfer between programs becomes a serious possibility, the student’s new coach should seek professional contact with the student’s current coach to discuss the matter.

3. Forensics educators should avoid conflict of interest vis a vis their recruiting efforts when running a workshop or tournament (e.g., granting potential recruits special jobs or opportunities), or when judging (e.g., rewarding decisions or high points to promote recruiting goals).

Section 3: Judge Practices
Judges are important to the debate activity. In addition to supplying decisions as judges, they educate the student participants through their reasons for decision and suggestions for improvement. CEDA recognizes the inherent tension and potential conflict between these two roles. In an attempt to facilitate both functions, CEDA encourages judge-educators to acknowledge their two-fold responsibility and act with competence, integrity, fairness and courtesy before, during and after each debate round. Debate seeks to be a full, free testing of ideas. Yet as educators, some feel a responsibility to discourage student behavior they find to be counterproductive. Often judges must delicately balance these two considerations: the need for rigorous examination of any and all views, however unpopular or unrealistic and the guidance and direction of student behavior. If undesirable behavior is discouraged in a positive, fair and courteous manner, the judge/educator roles can be simultaneously satisfied. Ethical principles for judges participating in CEDA include:

A. Judges should strive at all times to render impartial decisions. Judges should excuse themselves from rounds they do not feel they could judge fairly.

B. Judges should be willing to inform debaters, either through a statement of philosophy or through response to student questions, of strongly held beliefs or standards that could affect the outcome of the debate round.

C. Judges should evaluate debate rounds on the arguments as they are presented by the debaters, rather than on personal knowledge of or opinion about particular substantive arguments. Judges need not be “tabula rasa” but do need to be fair.

D. Judges should provide detailed and constructive criticism of any and all rounds of debate they evaluate. Reasons for decision should be in accordance with any beliefs or standards announced at the outset of the round. Judges are expected to provide written comments on the ballots provided by the tournament, even if they also provide an oral critique. These written comments should be made available to all the debaters a judge has heard by the conclusion of the tournament.

E. Judges have an ethical obligation to uphold without exception the tournament rules. Judges should inform the tournament director of any conflicts which could prevent them from carrying out this duty.

F. Judges who have the misfortune of witnessing fraudulent behavior on the part of competitors they are judging should:
1. conform to tournament rules (if any), and
2. act in accordance with their consciences in assessing appropriate sanctions.

Section 4: Tournament Administration Recommendations
In administering tournaments, educators should strive to insure that all students have an equal opportunity to excel. Educators should be particularly cognizant of the issues involved in scheduling and judge assignment. Tournament administration should seek to promote high quality and fair learning experiences for all debaters. Tournaments should be hosted for educational, not profit-making, reasons.

A. In order to give all participants equal information about tournament procedures, tournament invitations should include clear definitions of events and divisions, clear explanations of matching and judge assignment systems, clear explanations of criteria for advancement to elimination rounds and for awards, clear announcements of fees and schedules and a clear statement of tournament rules.

B. In order to provide a fair and educational tournament, administrators matching debate rounds should attempt to allow students an equal number of rounds on each side of the resolution and should maximize insofar as possible the range of opponents encountered by each team.

C. In order to provide a fair and educational tournament, judge assignment insofar as possible should be systematic, bsed upon a predefined process. Debaters should have equal opportunity to be heard by a range of judges and to be protected from judges who might have a conflict of interest.

D. In order to maximize the educational function of tournaments, administrators should make results and ballots available to all participants as soon as possible at the end of competition.

Section 5: Epilogue
Provisions of this article are not subject to adjudication. For specific standards regarding eligibility and their adjudication, participants should consult the CEDA bylaws. Resources used in the preparation of this document include the American Forensic Association Professional Relations Committee Code of Forensics Program and Forensics Tournament Standards for Colleges and Universities (1982), American Forensics in Perspective: Papers from the Second National Conference on Forensics (1984) and the Statement of Ethics for the Northwest Forensic Conference (1985).

The second is the Statement on Sexual Discrimination:

Preamble: The Cross Examination Debate Association is dedicated to the principle of free expression and exploration of ideas in an atmosphere of civility and mutual respect. Related to this principle is the belief that all members of this community will have access to CEDA debate activities without regard to race, creed, age, sex, national origin, sexual or affectional preference, or non-disqualifying handicap. These principles should guide the behavior of the organization’s
members and participants.
Section 1: The Nature of the Academic Debate Community
It is the nature of the academic debate community to provide a forum for the robust expression, criticism and discussion (and for the tolerance) of the widest range of opinions. It does not provide a license for bigotry in the form of demeaning, discriminatory speech actions and it does not tolerate sexual harassment. Any member of this community who is threatened by discrimination or harassment is liable to be harmed in mind, body or performance and is denied the guarantee of an equal opportunity to work, learn and grow inherent in the above principles. In the debate community, the presentation of a reasoned or evidenced claim about a societal group that offends members of that group is to be distinguished from a gratuitous denigrating claim about, or addressed to, an individual or group such as those enumerated above. The former is bona fide academic behavior while the latter may demean, degrade or victimize in a discriminatory manner and, if so, undermines the above principles. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and consists of verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, imposed on the basis of sex, that has the effect of denying or limiting one’s right to participate in the activity, or creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment that places the victim in an untenable situation and/or diminishes the victim’s opportunity to participate fairly. Sexual conduct can become discriminatory and harassing when the nature of the interaction is unwelcome, or when a pattern of behavior that is offensive to a “reasonable woman” exists. Discrimination or harassment by one person against another is particularly abhorrent when the first person is in a position of power with respect to the second. At the same time, it should be understood that false accusations, whether malicious or fanciful, have serious far-reaching effects. A deliberate false accusation will be regarded as a very serious matter, as will threats of retaliation by the accused against individuals who have filed complaints of discrimination or harassment. In formulating a policy on discrimination and sexual harassment, CEDA hopes to eliminate a rather narrow range of behaviors and actions from this activity. But, we cannot guarantee that the environment will be comfortable for all members of the community all the time. Often, arguments in debate are unsettling and disturbing. When one’s ideas are under attack the experience can be both painful and highly educational. The simple fact that a situation is uncomfortable does not automatically make it discriminatory or harassing. In this regard, it is central to debate that teachers and students should be able to take controversial positions without fear, in accordance with the principles of academic freedom. Being able to determine when something is outside the bounds of academic legitimate debate strategy or argumentation, or simple civility and good taste comes with education, experience and social maturity. The following policy is designed to foster education and provide grievance procedures for discrimination and sexual harassment complaints and help reestablish a working and learning environment free of harassment.
Section 2: Methods of Dealing with Harassment and Discrimination

A. Direct, Personal Strategies–the Preferred Model

1. You can sometimes stop harassment by taking direct action. Past experience within organizations and academic institutions indicates that many grievances can be resolved without resorting to a formal investigation. Therefore, this section outlines a series of steps that might be followed in an attempt to reach a satisfactory resolution when an individual chooses not to follow formal grievance procedures immediately.

a. Say “No” to the harasser. Ignoring the situation will not make it go away.

b. Ask the judge to intervene. Sexual harassment is a case when judge intervention may be required to comply with the letter of the law.

c. Write a note to the harasser. Describe the incident and how it made you feel. State that you want the harassment to stop. Keep a copy.

d. Keep a record of what happened, when it happened and who might have witnessed the event.

e. Ask another person (coach, friend, trusted colleague, the judge in the round) to intervene in your behalf–make good use of the fact that we are people trained in or learning about argument and conflict resolution. Talk out as many cases as possible.

2. In the event that a personal approach is inappropriate or unlikely to produce change, resort to filing a formal complaint as outlined below.

B. Strategies: Administrative Structure and Duties;

1. The President of the Cross Examination Debate Association will appoint a Sexual Harassment Officer (SHO), preferably a woman, who will chair the Committee on Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (CDSH). The CDSH will consist of no fewer than threeand no more than five active CEDA members. The CDSH will be provided with adequate and appropriate training.

2. The names of the SHO and CDSH members will be widely published: listed innewsletters, included in the national tournament invitation and made known in other appropriate ways.

3. The SHO and CDSH members shall be available to consult with complainants within the procedure as outlined in this procedure. (It is particularly important that the SHO be available at the National Tournament.)

4. The CDSH shall facilitate and review an educational program annually, informing members of the CEDA debate community about the definitions and interpretations of discrimination and sexual harassment and about procedures for initiating complaints.

C. Procedures in Cases of Discrimination or Sexual Harassment (these procedures only apply to incidents that occur during the duration of the CEDA National Tournament):
1. Complainants will have until the end of the following CEDA National Tournament to present complaints.

2. At any point during the proceedings any of the parties involved may choose to be accompanied by an adviser. All parties are free to consult with an attorney, if they choose to do so, but the investigation and hearing procedure is not a legal proceeding and attorneys may not be present or participate.

3. At all times throughout the procedures outlined below confidentiality will be preserved carefully whenever appropriate.

4. All written records pertaining to case shall be kept permanently in a confidential file held by the CEDA Executive Secretary.

5. Procedures:
a. If agreeable to the complainant, an informal meeting with both parties and the Sexual Harassment Committee will be the first step pursued. If an acceptable outcome is not reached, then the complainant may proceed to the following steps.
b. The complainant submits a detailed complaint, in writing, to the SHO.
c. Once the complaint has been filed and accepted by the SHO, the complainant shall be considered solely as a witness in an investigation by the CDSH.
d. As expeditiously as possible, the SHO and CDSH (or appropriate replacements) will investigate, meet with all parties involved and ensuring that the accused has an opportunity to see and respond to all statements made against him or her.
e. If the CDSH finds that no discrimination or harassment has taken place, the matter will stop at this point and the immediate parties shall receive notification that the case will go no further. Copies of this report and other relevant information will be kept on file permanently.
f. If the CDSH is convinced that discrimination or harassment has occurred, they will prepare a complete report including their findings, the statements of the accused party as well as the other witnesses and their conclusions about the nature and seriousness of the event that has taken place.
g. This report shall be submitted to the President, who shall review the evidence and, if necessary, request additional information.
h. In consultation with the CDSH, the President shall determine an appropriate sanction. Depending on the severity of the event, this sanction may include any of the following (this should not be viewed as an exhaustive listing of all possible sanctions, just the most likely): oral reprimands; written reprimands to be sent to directors of forensics and/or Deans of Faculty or Students and/or College or University Presidents; removal from future participation at the National Tournament (either competing or judging); removal of CEDA points; or suspension of membership in CEDA.

D. Appeals Procedures:
1. If the individual(s) found guilty of discrimination or harassment wishes to appeal the President’s decision, he/she or they may request that a hearing be held to review the decision. Ordinarily, such an appeal will be possible only if the individual(s) involved can present new evidence not previously considered or evidence of procedural violations during the formal procedures.
2. The Appeals Board will consist of those available members of the Executive Committee, not previously involved in the formal hearing and not having conflicts of interest. Replacements may need to be appointed to produce a committee of at least five members.
3. The Appeals Board shall review the written evidence in the case, consider new evidence provided to them, interview witnesses as they deem necessary and shall consider the proposed disciplinary action in relation to the evidence provided.
4. The findings and recommendations from the Appeals Board are considered final.
5. All reports are to be filed permanently with the Executive Secretary
Section 3: Epilogue:
Resources used in preparing this document include Sexual Harassment in Higher Education: Concepts and Issues, NEA, 1992; Sexual Harassment: It’s Not Academic, Dept. of Education, 1984; Sexual Harassment, Cornell University, 1990; Statement on Discrimination and Academic Freedom, Carleton College, 1990; and Whitman College Staff Handbook, 1992.

The meeting brought out a number of concerns about the constitution, how it is written and some things that we can improve. We are definitely considering some revisions to the constitution and would welcome input on that. But, the other concerns raised/suggestions made were:

1. The Sexual Harassment Officer(s) and committee should be more visible. The guidelines and statements from the constitution should also be made more visible/better communicated to the greater community.

2. We should figure out a way to provide educational materials/best practices guidelines to participants, including judges, coaches, directors and debaters, in how to deal with situations of perceived discrimination/harassment.

3. Question as to what procedures (if any) should be applied to situations outside of the national tournament. This included both other tournaments and other areas including hotels, vehicles, etc.

4. Regional SHOs (a title which the current SHOs do not embrace) could be named for each region and be sitting members of the Commitee on Discrimination and Sexual Harassment.

5. Issues/concerns about the area of the constitution describing possible sanctions, especially those that include notification of home institutions, etc.

6. Larger efforts to contact new coaches/grad students/directors in order to disseminate educational materials and best practices.

7. Revising the constitution to make clear inclusion of racial discrimination, gender and sexual orientation discrimination.

I would like to thank Omar Guevara for offering to help with constructing the Best Practices document for educational purposes and I would like to encourage others to get involved in the process as well, either through this blog, through email to me, and/or talking to me or ML Sandoz in person!

January 25, 2008

Competition or Education – A response to

Filed under: Debate,Forensics - General,Instructional Ideas,NFA LD,Pedagogy — bk2nocal @ 12:24 pm

An interesting and challenging question was posed over at on the Teleology of Debate.  I have struggled with this in my own coaching, not only in debate but also in IEs.  After all, everything we do in forensics is highly formulaic and not necessarily what works best in the “real world”.  But, I think we need to ask ourselves not whether EVERY skill that students learn in forensics transfers well to the post-forensics world, but whether those skills help or hinder their ability to function effectively in the post-forensics world.  Speaking fast or speaking “robotically” (as I’ve heard outsiders use to describe some IE presenters) is something we need to explain to our students as a tool for THIS activity.  A tool, that like any other tool, is inappropriate for other jobs.  To use a bad analogy, if I were teaching students construction, I would not tell my students to NEVER use a hammer, but I certainly would tell them that using a hammer to try to screw in a screw would not be effective. 
I think what we often lose sight of in forensics is that what we do is contextual – a lot like what students do in other areas of their lives.  But, if we try to make this an activity where EVERYTHING transfers EXACTLY in to the post-forensics world, than I think we lose sight of some of the UNIQUE learning that takes place in this activity.  We become another speech or debate “class” instead of a place where students can truly test their ability to adapt to different expectations and audiences as well as perform to the highest standards for professionals  who have a unique ability to listen, understand and evaluate arguments.  The lay-audience is limiting in ways that the forensics audience is not.  I think that is a GREAT benefit to students in that it allows them to step outside traditional expectations and explore new methods of delivery or new types of arguments.
The biggest problem I have with forensics competition is when judges/coaches are unwilling or unable to look past their own biases when educating students.  Although we all coach students to perform in a way that we think is best, we sometimes get so caught up in it that we deny students the ability to test their own ideas about performing.  Whether it is letting students talk fast (or slow) in debate or letting students do speeches on topics that are not considered “competitive” according to unwritten rules of platform speaking or letting students use non-traditional sources in extemporaneous speaking or running critiques in debate, strictly denying a student these opportunities (to fail maybe) seems overlimiting to me.  I don’t think we need to vote for these students or give them positive reinforcement, but we do need to use these as opportunities to educate them.  I will obviously tell my students when I think a speech topic will not be received well by judges or when a disad lacks the traditional impacts most judges are looking for or when a form of presentation is going to be competitively disadvantageous.  But, I also think its important that I allow them to learn for themselves and take risks in this activity.  After all, I think that is one of the most important things forensics provides to students – a “safe” place to test out ideas and presentational styles and arguments.  Its rare in this world of “you’re either with us or against us” that students can feel safe doing that.  It is important that they realize these “risks” will often result in “failure” competitively, but it may also result in learning a new lesson about argument or presentation.  I think this is where education can take the front seat and competition the backseat. 

On the flipside, I think that if a student is really competitive, then giving them the best TOOLS possible to win is something for which a coach is responsible.  I think that the lines are not so easily blurred between evidentiary or contextual fabrication and strategic use of evidence.  In the same way that when taking a class a student can strive for an A and put a very high value on achieving that, but still realize that cheating on a test is not a legitimate way of reaching that goal, we can teach our students that although winning is important, it can not be sought after in illegitimate ways.  But, I think we can also delineate speaking fast as being different from fabricating evidence, or running arguments that are strategically valuable but morally questionable (e.g. malthus) is different from taking arguments out of the context of the author’s usage.  I believe that is part of what we do as coaches.  We teach our students how to win without sacrificing standards of academic integrity. 
Through all this, I think its important that we as coaches are constantly stepping back and doing exactly what the post at challenges us to do.  THINK ABOUT IT!  Consider where we are coming from philosophically and teleologically and pedagogically and whether what we are doing as coaches is really demonstrating those beliefs and values.  And if not, what can we do to change our coaching to be more in line with who we are as people and educators. 

Thanks for a great, inspirational, thought-provoking blog entry over at!

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