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Author Topic: Topic Ballot  (Read 23294 times)
Hester
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Posts: 153


« Reply #45 on: June 10, 2012, 11:48:06 AM »

a proposal to improve the Topic Process:

The ultimate goal of this proposal is to generate a Resolution Ballot with 3-6 resolutions on a Topic Area that reflect the various constituencies in the community. The basic idea is to modify how the Topic Committee works between the time the Topic Area is selected and the CEDA Topic meetings take place.

Step 1: After the topic area vote has occurred and the new topic area has been selected, the 9 voting members of the Topic Committee would divide into three 3-person "Resolution Research Groups", with each group charged with showing up to the Topic Meetings with a "resolution proposal." It would be a full resolution, with sections devoted to "defining key terms," and "AFF/NEG ground." To come up with their proposals, the groups could either do their own work or enlist the help of research associates - i.e., interested members of the community. The groups would share their ideas along the way, so as to avoid (as much as possible) redundancy in the resolutions they are working on.

Anyone in the debate community can contribute to the Resolution Proposal stage. Community members who, for whatever reason, do not want to collaborate with the Resolution Research Groups can present their own Resolution proposals (more details of how that works in the Step 3).

Step 2: There would be a deadline one week prior to the CEDA business meetings when the Resolution Research Groups would post their Resolution Proposal to the other members of the committee. This would allow for the committee members to provide input on the other proposals, BUT the interpretation and intentions of the group that constructed their resolution would have presumption on the wording they selected (more explanation of this in Step 3). The proposals could also be posted to this forum at that time, again so as to invite input from the community.

Step 3: At the Topic Committee meetings, each group would present their Resolution Proposal, and any proposal that garnered 5 votes from the Committee would get a spot on the ballot.

This proposal is intended to alter one key aspect of the current process: how to deal with differences of opinion. Currently, the Topic Committee bends over backward to make sure everyone who has anything to say about any proposed resolution not only gets a chance to express themselves, but also tries extremely hard to make sure those thoughts influence how that resolution is worded. The intention is to be pluralistic and respectful of as many different opinions as possible. The result, however, is 'too many chefs spoiling the soup' (those familiar with my cake analogy know what i mean - check out my podcast interview with Odekirk if you don't). Because there are people with very different ideas for what makes a good resolution, attempts to make sure everyone's thoughts about each resolution are included in its construction end up deforming every resolution into a twisted concoction that satisfies few, if anyone.

The reference above to 'presumption' is my way of saying that the point is not to satisfy everyone who has any idea about a resolution, but rather to make sure the people who want that particular resolution get the wording they think will best generate the kinds of debates they want. All editing suggestions would still be entertained, but they'd all be filtered by the group that originally constructed the resolution. Does the editing suggestion (punctuation, verb phrase, term of art, etc) help that resolution achieve the kind of debates that group was shooting for? If not, it's not useful and should not be brought up - save those ideas for the resolution that better fits the kinds of debates you want.

Two examples from the most recent Topic Meeting may help explain this point. Instead of Group A arguing with Group B that B's resolution shouldn't include renewable energy sources because Group A's reading of the Topic Paper would exclude them, Group B merely has to convince 5 voters their reading of the Topic Paper would be effectively generated under their resolution. Similarly, Group C wouldn't have to convince Group B that "regulatory and/or statutory" isn't necessary to modify "regulations," but only convince 5 voters that their resolution achieves the goals Group C had in mind when they constructed their resolution.

Because it would still take 5 votes, there shouldn't be any concern resolutions so out of bounds as to be 'outlandish' would make it onto the ballot. If five committee members think it's worthy of being on the ballot, it's a legitimate option. And because it's a fair assumption that each resolution would start with 3 votes (the group members) and thus only need two more, the focus would need only be on convincing those two voters that the group's resolution will do what it intends to do. And community members not on the Topic Committee could also present their Resolution Proposals, if they didn't feel their idea of the best resolution was represented among the choices emanating from the groups. Again, any resolution proposal would need 5 votes to make it on the ballot.

Summary:
This change in how the Topic Meeting engages each resolution would result in a wider variety of choices on the ballot. People who like a broad, elegantly written (i.e., brief) resolution could make their case and defend their resolution. Folks who prefer a more narrow, precisely written (i.e., elegance be damned, keep AFF ground under control) could make their case and defend their resolution. Because this isn't a debate over what ONE resolution will be debated, but merely what choices should be on the ballot, there shouldn't be such micro-managing by every interested party of every resolution.

It would also allow the weekend of the Topic Meeting to be more focused on 'double-checking' (punctuation, terms of art, etc), balancing the ballot should imbalance be perceived (e.g., if Group A was the only group to come up with a 'fossil fuels only' resolution, time could be spent constructing a parallel resolution and having four choices on the ballot - this is what i had in mind when i stated there'd be 3-6 resolutions on the final ballot), or synthesizing (if two independent proposals made by others not in one of the groups are decided to be similar enough, one hybrid resolution could be formulated). As it stands now, almost all the work the committee had to do prior to the meetings has to be re-done so as to satisfy everyone, which is frustrating for them and leads to delays and bottlenecks in discussions that inevitably short-change other discussions which could be occurring.

This proposal can help streamline the process of creating the resolutions ballot while also allowing for more people to feel like the kind of resolution they wanted to debate shows up on that ballot. Ultimately, the Ballot will allow a majority of the community to decide what kind of resolution they want to debate the next season.

p.s. - i'm not as nice as Antonucci, so don't expect lengthy line-by-line rebuttals from me on this proposal. if you have minor tweaks you believe will help this idea achieve the goals i've stated, please suggest them. if you think this entire idea is dumb, fine, say so. just don't expect me to bicker with you on this forum.
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whwatson
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Posts: 22


« Reply #46 on: June 11, 2012, 08:36:48 AM »

My suggestion to improve the topic ballot/selection process:

I'd push back the topic committee meeting back at least 2 weeks to give interested stakeholders more time to produce "wording papers" - it is always a very short turn around between when the topic area vote is announced and when wording papers are due.  As a result, I think we're left with too many unanswered questions/un-researched questions when the topic committee convenes...and it's too much to ask the committee to sort through all of the various topic questions/concerns in a weekend in my opinion. 

More time means more research means more deliberation (and probably more transparency).  Having participated in a few topic committee meetings before, I think this would increase the chances of improving both the process and the product.

Scheduling issues (e.g. summer camp starting dates) are an obvious issue - but a better college topic process and product might be the result. 

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Ermo
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Posts: 243


« Reply #47 on: June 11, 2012, 11:00:47 AM »

As someone who routinely spends my anniversary at the TC meeting, I have sympathy for Whit's proposal. Nonetheless, the summer school / summer camp trade off concern is real. NFL Nationals has conflicted with the TC some years as well.

One place where we could shrink time from the process would be to shrink the time between submitting the ballot and closing down voting. Making it just one week instead of two would require amending the CEDA Constitution, but a week gives people time to have a squad meeting to consult if they use such a procedure. If the TC clears controversy papers as they arrive, instead of waiting until the deadline, there would be less time crunch during that one week.
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Whit
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Posts: 79


« Reply #48 on: June 11, 2012, 02:27:28 PM »

As someone who routinely spends my anniversary at the TC meeting, I have sympathy for Whit's proposal. Nonetheless, the summer school / summer camp trade off concern is real. NFL Nationals has conflicted with the TC some years as well.

One place where we could shrink time from the process would be to shrink the time between submitting the ballot and closing down voting. Making it just one week instead of two would require amending the CEDA Constitution, but a week gives people time to have a squad meeting to consult if they use such a procedure. If the TC clears controversy papers as they arrive, instead of waiting until the deadline, there would be less time crunch during that one week.

I don't think I've made a proposal.
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Ermo
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Posts: 243


« Reply #49 on: June 11, 2012, 02:31:56 PM »

I don't think I've made a proposal.

Well played.
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stables
Administrator
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Posts: 334


« Reply #50 on: July 18, 2012, 10:07:58 AM »

A quick reminder that ballots are due by midnight (central) tonight. The winning topic will be announced on Friday, July 20.

The ballot is available at: http://www.cedadebate.org/july2012ballot

Contact Jeff Jarman if you are unable to login.
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
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