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Author Topic: Concrete proposals  (Read 1115 times)
neil berch
Full Member
Posts: 153

« on: June 11, 2013, 01:05:49 PM »

I just sent this to the Northeast Regional listserv.  It's mainly for regional discussion, but I'd welcome critiques, comments, etc. here, too.

Hi, everyone!  I hope you're enjoying your summers.  As some of you know, much of the discussion at the CEDA Business meeting had to do with MPJ and diversity in the judging pool.  Judging by Mike Davis's excellent minutes, very little in the way of concrete change was proposed and certainly not much was adopted.  It may very well be that the CEDA national organization is not the forum for making changes in this regard (and this is an issue we've talked about for a long time with little progress).  It may, in fact be that regions and individual tournaments are better suited to make changes more quickly.  I think, to give our students the best possible educational experience, the Northeast region should take the lead in this regard.  I'm going to throw out some ideas (at least one of which is an attempt to implement a concrete suggestion that Rashad Evans made on the CEDA Forums a couple of weeks ago); feel free to tell me why they won't increase diversity, but please come up with something better.  I'm making these suggestions now, and it would seem that any tournament is free to implement them (or any others); depending upon reaction, I will probably introduce them (or alternatives) as potential regional norms when we meet at West Point.

First, though, let's be clear that there are three places we can go to improve diversity in the judging pool:  hiring practices, how we fill out our pref sheets, and tournament administration.  It's pretty clear from the reaction to earlier ideas, that people will resist anything that restricts (or reveals) how they fill out pref sheets.  So these proposals focus on the other two areas.

1.  We should virtually eliminate the cushion that we typically use to ensure that everyone gets the best possible preferences at Regional tournaments.  Yes, the one that results when I (if I'm tabbing) beg people to volunteer extra rounds, both before and during tournaments.  The motivation for that process is to provide the best possible service to the debaters, but I've come to believe it has a number of disadvantages, including a marginal decrease in diversity.  Virtually eliminating the cushion would mean that almost everyone would judge the number of preliminary rounds they were committed for.  It would, as Gary Larson and others note, mean that average prefs (and perhaps mutuality) would drop some, but I think it would be worth it.  I'd leave just enough of a cushion to allow for judges who get sick, can't read a pairing, or forget to report conflicts until they're assigned to judge a round they can't judge.

2.  To the extent that not every judge is needed in the first or second outround, we should aim to increase the diversity of the pool for those rounds.  The methodology might depend upon the particular number of judges needed (versus the size of the pool), but it could involve the tabroom randomly removing from the pool (for a particular round) some percentage of moderately preferred judges who have not identified themselves as members of an underrepresented group.  The key to me is to do this in a systematic and transparent fashion, rather than having the tab room make the call to replace particular judges with others after the program has already assigned judges.

3.  Schools that cover at least 2/3 of the rounds in their judging obligation at any particular tournament with people who self-identify as members of underrepresented groups should receive a 50% reduction in their entry fees for that tournament.  This will impact both hiring of coaches and hiring of per tournament judges for individual tournaments.  It might be expected that tournaments would increase their entry fees to cover this cost, so the entire Region would be subsidizing the cost of increasing diversity.  Please note that if this proposal is adopted, WVU will refuse any discounts that we might earn for at least the first three years.

I'm sure these proposals are not perfect, but I'm also sure that we need to do something.



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