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Author Topic: ADA Summer Business Meeting  (Read 13252 times)
mph
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« on: March 30, 2011, 10:09:51 AM »

The ADA business meeting will be hosted by the University of Mary Washington on May 20, 2011.  Hotel details and schedule are forthcoming.  Any proposals to change the standing rules or constitution should be submitted to mphall at liberty dot edu by May 6.
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RGarrett
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 12:35:41 PM »

I have been working on the following amendment proposal for some time now, I would hope people read the entire rationale and not just the amendment.  If anyone has useful suggestions for editing the amendment text or for an alternate amendment to address some of these issues I would be happy to hear them so that I can finalize changes before the May 6th deadline.

Proposed Amendment:

All tournaments sanctioned by the American Debate Association shall offer a division of competition that uses a closed set of evidence (a set of evidence containing enough cards to debate on both the affirmative and negative) that is approved by the American Debate Association for the current year’s debate topic.
Evidence from the closed set may be underlined, tagged, and combined in any way debaters see fit to construct their arguments.  The evidence set may be expanded after the first semester.

Purpose of the Amendment:

To clarify the purpose of this amendment it is important to note that no one questions the value of research in policy debate.  That is why the ADA should continue to offer open research divisions as it currently does.  For people who love the research part of debate it may be hard to read this amendment and see past this point.

The purpose of this amendment is to promote the ADA’s fundamental goal of increasing participation in debate.
There are several reasons that this type of division may be necessary:

First, it coincides with a long history in the ADA of attempting to limit the content of debate in order to produce educational and accessible debate.  The ADA has experimented more with limitations of argument to foster participation than any other debate organization.

Second, there are many students who wish to participate in policy debate, but because of jobs or other campus commitments cannot participate because of the time demands of the activity.  Our activity has become inaccessible to many bright students because of its time demands.  This division attempts to offer a true version of policy debate, but to control for one of the most time consuming aspects. These students can be great members of the team and representatives of the team to the general student body.  Additionally, many universities have sought to fund debate teams that can allow more students to participate, and this would also help teams fill that need. 

Third, it can be difficult to start debate teams at new institutions.  Many universities will never have policy debate teams without a large push from a faculty or administration member.  This division would lower the barriers for entry for student run programs.  The long term goal would be that teams that participate in this division eventually desire to be able to research their own arguments and compete in other divisions.  In this way it is similar to encouraging novice debate to increase participation, but the main difference is that this division can appeal to those with high school debate experience who no longer have the time or are unsure about fully committing to policy debate.

Fourth, the division would still allow for argument creativity.  By limiting the evidence set debaters will be encouraged to read evidence to discover every argument or warrant that a piece of evidence might support.  In this way debaters might better learn to use both analytical arguments and careful evidence reading to support their arguments.

Fifth, many opponents of this amendment will suggest that without research our activity is useless.  This fallacy is perhaps the most dangerous one in attempting to experiment and improve debate.  While everyone agrees that there should be research intensive policy debate the closest alternative of non-research intensive policy debate still has great value.  It is almost universally agreed that learning the skill of arguing in the context of policy debate is important and this division would still preserve all of those benefits.


While no suggestion to improve debate participation is perfect, this amendment can offer the ADA the ability to create the first experiment in non-research intensive policy based debate.  By preserving separate divisions for research intensive policy based debate the ADA can continue to promote traditional policy debate while adding this division to increase participation.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 12:38:15 PM by RGarrett » Logged
neil berch
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 12:56:13 PM »

Ross:  Thanks for your creativity.  I will fully admit upfront that I'm likely to oppose this idea, but I applaud your thoughtfulness.  Right now, though, I have some questions of clarification.  Would this division be a Novice division (you seem to imply that it would not)?  If so, would it be THE Novice division, or would there be two Novice divisions?  If it's not a Novice division, why would Novices want to participate in it against people with high school experience?  Who would decide which cards would make the cut?  Would cards that form a kritik be part of this set?  Performance?  Only traditional policy arguments?

Lots of questions here, and I suspect you won't satisfy me (but your answers might help you with persuading others), but, again, kudos to you for offering a concrete proposal to deal with what you view as a major flaw in some of what we do!

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
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antonucci23
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2011, 01:31:16 PM »

@Garrett:

I am not a member of the ADA, so I am probably not qualified to speak.

That said, this idea seems really, really smart.
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RGarrett
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2011, 03:13:43 PM »

Ross:  Thanks for your creativity.  I will fully admit upfront that I'm likely to oppose this idea, but I applaud your thoughtfulness.  Right now, though, I have some questions of clarification.  Would this division be a Novice division (you seem to imply that it would not)?  If so, would it be THE Novice division, or would there be two Novice divisions?  If it's not a Novice division, why would Novices want to participate in it against people with high school experience?

In my vision this would be an 'open' division in terms of competition experience. I have quite a bit of experience with being a team mate and now a coach for novices, and I think for the most part novices are not bogged down by card cutting rather their team usually helps a lot.  This would be a great division so that some novices who could not commit to the time requirements of cutting evidence could continue their debate careers, but overall I think the ADA does a great job with novice debate right now.

I think if this experiment is wildly popular and what I term non-research intensive policy debate is an enjoyable event maybe you would offer three divisions of competition.  Overall though unless someone makes another argument I think the programs that want to promote novice debate do so very successfully right now.


Who would decide which cards would make the cut?  Would cards that form a kritik be part of this set?  Performance?  Only traditional policy arguments?


I think this is obviously the most ideologically contentious portion of my proposal, because everybody has strong opinions about what constitutes a good debate, I will give a sort of broad outline of my vision below.  However, your question assumes that debate will be very strongly limited based on whatever the author of the evidence packet intends.  My experience with debaters anticipates the exact opposite happening, debaters will find ways to be creative to delve into very interesting possibilities, I think that no format can truly limit the creative thinking of debaters.  Our activity has made some very strong assumptions that limited amounts of evidence would strictly limit the content of debate, and I think this is not true.  Many who oppose my amendment will disagree with this prediction about non-research based policy debate, or will disagree with the problem of participation as I have outlined them.  If my guess is right that these are the two sticking points I would enjoy discussing why people think my predictions are incorrect.

I think the ADA executive committee could make the decision on what evidence is in, or they could delegate it to an individual.  I envision a world where there would be a good number of policy options (although without rapid updating my format does probably destroy the politics DA which will upset many).  I would like to see critical literature as it relates to the topic, for instance on nuclear weapons arguments like Chernus that pertain quite closely to the topic (that is just one example off the top of my head of a fairly topic specific K.)
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V I Keenan
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2011, 04:57:27 PM »

er .... so limited research policy question accessible experiments do exist for those who want to follow-up.  Example:

http://www.sunyrockland.edu/current-students/student-activities/student-clubs-and-organizations/rccdebate/speech-and-debate-team

I think relevant to the motivations posed by Ross is guideline #5: New students should be able to successfully compete in a week.

PFDL (no, not that cross-fire/Ted Turner crap that forgot to check if the name was already in use), is functionally an attempt to address the research burden and time constraint issues associated with NDT/CEDA style debate.  Also, it's one day because the real issue for students who really rely on their jobs is that we have 2-3 day tournaments, not the preparation issue.  I think this proposal could only successfully attract those who find the research burden the overwhelming obstacle, but not those with other time constraint issues. (And as this is in the structure of the ADA, these are all 3 day tournaments).

The PFDL does not coincide with the CEDA/NDT topic, which would be a benefit to the current proposal.  However, what is being proposed could in theory take teams that are already competing and move them to the limited-evidence division, thereby creating a net loss to existing divisions.  Basically, the cautionary model is that this is great if it brings more people into debate, but could be problematic if it divides the existing numbers into a 4th division on a permanent basis.  This is only a relevant concern if people obsess over points and division sizes, but some do, so it should be spoken about.  Also, as the amendment proposes ALL ADA sanctioned tournaments, I think it hurts some hosting autonomy.  A 4th division to tab, order awards for, designate a judge pool for ... that would take an increased level of coordination, work, and cost for not necessarily an increased attendance.  

I also think one of Neil's concerns is more relevant that initially assumed - argument limitations.  The proposal is not simply debate with limited research.  I am interpreting it as "ADA Rules Enforced Debate" with limited research, which is a different understanding.  Critical literature might be germane to the evidence set, but one that critical literature must have a policy based alternative (which might be more difficult to find in the selected literature), there will be some very real argumentation limitations, whether intended or not.

Also, I'm not sure in the world of ADI evidence sharing, caselist wikis, and opensource projects that "evidence" is the critical barrier to program development.  University internal bureaucracy, lack of funding, lack of coaching/guidance, and generating campus based support/enthusiasm are generally the larger obstacles.  Therefore, whatever generates the most enthusiasm of new programs and debaters may be a more important criteria.  Clearly, there are two geographic regions with distinctly different views on what generates that enthusiasm - limitations that create managability and prowess versus more of "laissez faire" (unless in context of capitalism) attitude, and BOTH have been successful in different ways.  This isn't to say that the experiment wouldn't be helpful, just to acknowledge the limitations of assistance it might offer and the competing pedagogy it ignores.

Anyway, if this is going to be explored, I might suggest extensive conversation with Andrew Jacobs from Rockland about his experiences with the PFDL start-up and the challenges or successes therein so that you can hear irst hand what the resistance will be.  I'll also ask when I'm at their tournament next Sunday.

-VIK
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 04:59:23 PM by V I Keenan » Logged
RGarrett
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2011, 05:51:21 PM »

I read the link, my main problem is that your example bans debate jargon, and from my reading practically evidence entirely.  I think we can all agree that is not really a form of policy debate, the purpose of my amendment is to try and find a version of policy debate that is more accessible through limitations.

You say that the 3 day format is a major deterrent to folks, but the ADA doesn't do full 3 day tournaments but rather Friday afternoon and the weekend.  Secondarily, if it is concluded that shortened time lengths are important a tournament could abide by this amendment while only offering 1 day of this division, just as long as the division is offered at some point during their tournament.  This would mean your consideration could be addressed within my framework, and I would encourage others to author amendments to address other concerns that could help address my original list of problems.  I think tournament length is an issue tournament directors can decide themselves without an amendment which is why I will not author one.

I think also that some of the things discussed about the ADA are somewhat dated.  For instance there is no restriction to policy alternatives, and hasn't been for a few years. https://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=22660  While there may be an ideological aversion to the ADA I think that is a gigantic distraction. Every year I've listened to people get into massive ideological fights over topics and resolutions and I think that many decisions are made SOLELY based on trying to win some ideological war or tilt the overall ideology of the community.  This amendment does not have to promote a specific ideology of debate, and should not be construed as an attempt to do so.  In my opinion the ADA has already experimented extensively in that area and that is not what I am attempting to do.

One final note is that I have heard some suggestions and I think I am probably going to re-work the amendment to address some of the limitations with a top down closed set of evidence, while still solving for most of my original problems.
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V I Keenan
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2011, 06:18:48 PM »

I think creating a non 3-day option goes a lot towards the stated goals.  I would probably also amend the "every" ADA tournament in some manner (either offering it as a suggestion, like teach-ins; or stating a minimum number of offerings).   

And the reason PFDL would be helpful to you is understanding that is premised upon the idea that there is NDT/CEDA debate and that there should be an option for those who can't quite commit to that.  Unlike most forms of debate which are about preferences in debate because of some platonic ideal of competitive argumentation practice, PFDL is literally a league created to address specific barriers to participation in our own activity.  Unlike other experiments, it also isn't by someone who inherently hates what we do, just recognizes what often the barriers are and really tried to address them (for example, tournaments on Sunday to address the Orthodox community).  The lack of jargon is more of a necessary requirement to the requisite lay judging pool and barrier issues than our typical experience with jargon bad (also, there are K's, CP's, and DA's, just more normally named).  The evidence seems minimal because the evidence based subset rotates in topic (much like HS LD) on a regular basis to minimize the advantage of "backfiles" and to allow new comers a more equal shot at the entry level.  It's an evolution of what they are trying to accomplish, not necessarily by design.  But keep in mind, all of this started from the same place you are - how to increase access.  That's why studying what has come before will not give you an idea of where you don't want to go, but where objections will come from.

Much like the history of the ADA in limiting certain kinds of argumentation, other kinds of adaptions to create certain limits to increase accessibility of debate to some are simply useful guides to what has been accepted and rejected by the community in the past.  Both those successes and failures can be helpful in designing the "experiment" more thoroughly.

-VIK

*side note:  PFDL dates back to just after the merger, so the values tradition of CEDA was more a part of the day to day language, which is why the resolutions can sound less "policy" oriented.  Even if the current form has moved on, understanding it has an origin much like what you're discussing is basically the point.  This is only one example - I picked it because I actually have students who have the same barriers we typically discuss and this is what they do instead of CX.  There are others, and I'd really suggest a survey of them to best articulate the pros of your proposal. 
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neil berch
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2011, 06:29:45 PM »

Ross:  Thanks for your responses.  I will ponder them and likely respond further.  I think finding a way around a top-down evidence set selection helps.  A couple of other things to ponder (I also share some of Vik's concerns):
1.  What if you only end up with 5 or 6 teams in your closed evidence set division?  Do you collapse that division with one or more of the others?
2.  Again, what if you end up with 20 teams, and 3 are Open teams that didn't have time to do research this year, and three others are JV teams fresh out of four years of high school debate?  How will the 14 Novice teams react to that?  Wouldn't a lot of them feel like they'd never have a chance to compete?

Best,
Neil
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antonucci23
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2011, 06:32:00 PM »

However, what is being proposed could in theory take teams that are already competing and move them to the limited-evidence division, thereby creating a net loss to existing divisions.  

Seems unlikely.  I mean, the divide in terms of intensity is pretty clear.

Let's be realistic.  There are always going to be a number of students who want to do debate without the time commitment involved in the total war version.  (I personally love total war, but my tastes are not universal.)  There's always a bottom, and it's always dropping out.

This inevitable drift or attrition can either drain from competitive debate into parli, or it can be more carefully managed.  I applaud Ross' suggestion for its realism and attempt to create a middle path, where students who drop out can still reap some of the benefits of intense policy debate without drifting into a reactionary argument community.

Basically, the cautionary model is that this is great if it brings more people into debate, but could be problematic if it divides the existing numbers into a 4th division on a permanent basis.  This is only a relevant concern if people obsess over points and division sizes, but some do, so it should be spoken about.  Also, as the amendment proposes ALL ADA sanctioned tournaments, I think it hurts some hosting autonomy.  A 4th division to tab, order awards for, designate a judge pool for ... that would take an increased level of coordination, work, and cost for not necessarily an increased attendance.  

This administrative cost seems small relative to the potential benefits.  (Of course, that's me being generous with someone else's time, but still.)

I also think one of Neil's concerns is more relevant that initially assumed - argument limitations.  The proposal is not simply debate with limited research.  I am interpreting it as "ADA Rules Enforced Debate" with limited research, which is a different understanding.  Critical literature might be germane to the evidence set, but one that critical literature must have a policy based alternative (which might be more difficult to find in the selected literature), there will be some very real argumentation limitations, whether intended or not.

Two options:

1. Put a bunch of Ks in the set.

2. If this is really a dealbreaker, convert the Garrett proposal into a full open source model.  Students can submit research for topics that interest them, but it has to be approved and reposted.

Also, I'm not sure in the world of ADI evidence sharing, caselist wikis, and opensource projects that "evidence" is the critical barrier to program development.  

None of those partial measures are actual controls on debate's evidence economy.  Information is very fungible, but only this sort of proposal effectively decommodifies it.  That's rather important, because unregulated capitalism trends toward monopolization, both in debate and in the larger economy.  (To extend the conceit a bit, philanthropic projects exist to justify current relations of production, not revise them.)

In more debate-y terms:
The problem isn't having some cards.   The problem is the time investment involved in having enough cards to, you know, win.  If I have 100 widgets of labor inputs and you have 50, I'm going to be way ahead, even if you have > 0 widgets.

(The current transparency measures suffer from their own internal problems, of course.  Is it just me, or is wikification getting worse and worse, except when maintained by a neutral party as it was at the NDT?)

University internal bureaucracy, lack of funding, lack of coaching/guidance, and generating campus based support/enthusiasm are generally the larger obstacles.  Therefore, whatever generates the most enthusiasm of new programs and debaters may be a more important criteria.  Clearly, there are two geographic regions with distinctly different views on what generates that enthusiasm - limitations that create managability and prowess versus more of "laissez faire" (unless in context of capitalism) attitude, and BOTH have been successful in different ways.  This isn't to say that the experiment wouldn't be helpful, just to acknowledge the limitations of assistance it might offer and the competing pedagogy it ignores.

Seems like alt causes vs. a pretty linear advantage.

These concerns are certainly valid questions, and the suggestions sound very valuable as well.  I'm obviously a hack here, but I really think the Garrett proposal stands absent more sustained refutation.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 06:57:07 PM by antonucci23 » Logged
antonucci23
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2011, 06:50:33 PM »

I think finding a way around a top-down evidence set selection helps. 

I disagree.  I think that the top down evidence set selection is the good thing about it.  It's the thing about it, at least, for better or worse. It's why this proposal is more elegant and effective than cited previous proposal that tried to make policy debate easier by taking the "policy" and "debate" out of it.

Absent that stipulation, the proposal isn't a middle path - it's just nothing. 

This statement translates into "I would like your proposal if it didn't exist."

That's my last post on the subject; this isn't my proposal, after all, but it's a little tragic to watch a good idea die of a thousand cuts.
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neil berch
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2011, 06:55:25 PM »

While it's nice of you to defend top-down evidence set as key to the proposal, the proposal's author has already said he's going to rethink that aspect of it.  He says:
"One final note is that I have heard some suggestions and I think I am probably going to re-work the amendment to address some of the limitations with a top down closed set of evidence, while still solving for most of my original problems."

You see this as a thousand cuts; I see it as working with someone who has an interesting idea--even though I probably don't support the idea.  I commend Ross for his open-mindedness in engaging both Vik and me.

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University (very long-time ADA member)
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antonucci23
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2011, 06:59:30 PM »

I'm not really making a normative statement there.  I'm just making a descriptive one.

This was a closed-evidence proposal. 

Absent the closed-evidence part, I don't see what part of the original amendment text survives? 

I suppose we should both let Mr. Garrett speak for himself, though.
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neil berch
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2011, 07:07:07 PM »

1.  I did let him speak for himself.  That's why I quoted him.
2.  I think we're talking past each other.  I took the passage from Ross's response to mean that he would try to find a way around the top-down model of having the ADA Executive Committee (or a designated person) decide what goes in the evidence set.  I didn't think he was walking away from the closed evidence set, just from the mechanism for deciding what goes into the set.  And I was commending him for that.  Certainly, I agree that if I was saying I like the proposal without a closed evidence set, you would be correct that I was saying, "I would like your proposal if it didn't exist."  That's not what I said.  I was focused on the "top-down" issue.

Ross:  Is that a correct interpretation of the change you said you'd consider?--Neil
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antonucci23
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2011, 07:25:09 PM »

k, sure

curious about your conception of a closed-evidence system if not top-down.  that's actually a question, not an argument
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