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Author Topic: Shirley Announcements - 11/1/13  (Read 3403 times)
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Posts: 87

« on: November 01, 2013, 08:50:25 AM »


We start every Wake Forest Squad meeting with a list of shout-outs to debaters who have gone above and beyond expectations - who have inspired us as coaches - it’s our way of saying thank-you, please keep it up, you are making us all better, you are an inspiration.  Below is our list of shout-outs over the past few weeks - we hope others take the opportunity to fill in their own shout-outs in the forums they find appropriate - our list is by no means complete...

1 - All of the students who have had to struggle with institutional support just to ensure they could attend debate tournaments: Ameena, Korey, Kevin, and Lenny from Towson; Matt, Ricardo, Ravi, and Dillon from Georgia Tech; and many others we don’t know about.
2 - All of those who started in college as novices.
3 - All of those who have expressed what they have been afraid to express in the past.
4 - All of those who have struggled before us.
5 - All who have taken time to offer suggestions on how we can run an effective tournament.  We’ve heard from close friends (new and old) and those from bygone eras, thank-you.
6 - Wake Forest Coaching staff.  They have worked tirelessly on many questions we wrestled with below.  What follows is an example of dialogue, but not necessarily full consensus.

Echoing Ideas from Others

Before we get into tournament procedures, we wanted to share a few ideas from others on how to make our community better:
- Talk to someone you don't normally talk with.  Some of our coaching staff's best friends think differently about debate, but have learned to be life-long friends because they spent time together in the past.  We still disagree about political choices, but now respect each other as people.  Come to the tent!
- Respect the effort of each other - Judges try their hardest, so do debaters.
- Consider planning positive feedback in the post round.  We usually plan for who won, questions from the debaters about how we reached a decision, and what could be done better next time.  Don’t forget about the “what went well” part for both teams.

Further Community Building Efforts

- Friday Night Discussions: We are not releasing pairings on Friday night. We are still doing the coach of the year award. Rather than trying one big forum, we are in negotiations with the hotel to get a series of spaces for informal conversations. If people want to announce some conversation topics we can try to coordinate the spaces, but we want the conversations to come from you. We can imagine discussions of speaker points, discussions of MPJ with Gary, discussions of judge philosophies, etc…but we want you all to have the say over what is most important. Please announce your discussion ideas publically so everyone sees the options.

-Where Are You From? Project. The tournament has partnered with the Where Are You From Project to provide an opportunity for all debaters, judges, coaches, and alumni to share their experiences with the debate community and beyond. We will set up a video booth on campus and everyone that chooses to participate will be asked: Where are you from?; How did you become involved in debate/Why?; Is debate your home and if so, why?; What is most valuable/important about your experience with debate? The videos will be compiled and put into a series of videos online. You can read more and watch some of the videos:

- We will have a talent show (think Night at the Apollo/America’s Got Talent style…) during the traditional survivors party. Ryan Wash has agreed to serve as the MC.  Potential acts include: magic show, spoken word, music (we will have guitars, a rudimentary keyboard, and microphones available) we have karaoke available, comedy routine, whatever...We will ask for entries ahead of time.  There is a time limit.  Prizes.

- Vince Binder Charity poker tournament.  Awards instead of cash.  Details to follow.

- First year judge slide show - designed to introduce the people who judge them. Projected on to a screen next to the big tent.  Ask each judge to submit some fun facts.  Put people and faces with names on a strike sheet.

- The Big Tent - We will have a question of the round up on a board.  Come by use it as a foray to talk with someone you don’t know.  We’ll have snacks and drinks.

- We will have an awards assembly.  It will be late Sunday night; we provide dinner. Pairings to come out after.  

Shirley Innovation

The Shirley has been the site of significant innovations. Some of them have been adopted more widely (6 minute rebuttals, integrating opp win into the pairing procedure, etc…) others have been abandoned altogether (100 point speaker scale). Although we have always enjoyed the experiments, we have never adopted an experiment for the sake of experimentation perspective.

We have had a tumultuous season so far with public controversies over some of the core tenets of what it means to participate in this activity, what it means to judge this activity, what it means to host a tournament, what it means to burn it down, and what, if anything, should remain. We cannot speak for any other people (even on our squad), but these conversations have been wildly productive in generating self-reflexivity for us. Self-reflection is powerful, but it does not always produce consensus.

Tournament Procedures

With that being said, here are the tournament procedures for the 2013 Franklin R. Shirley Classic:

1- We will return to MPJ. We believe we can increase placement of under-represented judges in prelims without having to abandon the basic features of MPJ..

2- We will engage in aggressive elim placement of non-male and black judges to ensure proportional representation. We hope that this will garner some of the original goals of the mutuality plan by making sure that the non-male and black judges have a chance to elimination debates. We want the debaters to have control, but we understand that too much control can adversely affect some parts of the judging pool. We want to state as clearly as possible that if you want to win the Shirley, you will have to debate in front of a proportional representation of black and non-male judges in elims!

3- Speaker Points - In the next week, we will publish a distribution scale as a suggestion.  We strongly recommend that each judge identify in their judge philosophy how they plan to administer points.  Transparency on this question benefits all.  Judges, please do not use points as an explicit method to reward a particular style of argument or pledges to debaters beyond the debate round.  The integrity of our activity is undermined when this happens.  Be open to the debate.  Try not to dismiss an argument immediately upon hearing it.  We would like to reverse the trend that judges shape the debate based on their philosophy. Debaters, if you go 5-3 and desire to clear, recognize there is an inherent sense of luck involved that is beyond your control.  This was true at UMKC and GSU this year and at Wake Forest in 1983.

4 - Any Speaker who receives a zero due to their unethical use of evidence as described by the recent CTD document will be ineligible for speaker awards.  This zero will not be dropped in the high-low calculation for potential out-round placement or seeding.

5 - Margin of Victory Award - Each judge will be asked the margin of victory.  If this were an elim debate does the judge predict it would be a 3-2, 4-1, or a 5-0. The goal is to let coaches and debaters know how close the judge felt the debate was.  We will give an award to the best 5 performing teams in prelims based on total margin of victory.  These do not factor into who breaks.  The goal is to coaches and debater how “close” judges felt the debate was.  Judges can choose to disclose this or not, just like speaker points.

6 - Elim Day Time Limits.  We will follow a hard 2:45 decision time cap.  There will be a hard cap of 30 minutes for panels to announce decisions/discuss.  We suggest that each judge limit their comments.  We will set timers for those who have a history of being long-winded to ensure that everyone on the panel has an opportunity to speak.  At 3:15 we will release panels for the next debate.  We hope that the community does not look disfavorably upon a team who dismisses themselves at that point to prepare for the next debate.  Those who are not coaching teams and the losing team should discuss for longer as they see fit, but please move the location of the discussion if another team needs to move into that space.  

How did your coaching staff decide to prefer MPJ with no extra rounds over mutuality?

The core question was simple: is it the right time for the original experiment? Is now the time for the Shirley to conduct an experiment that focuses on mutuality with the premise that putting fresh faces in the back of the room is one of the few ways to produce the positive community interactions we need for long term change? The answer, however, is complex. Some argued persuasively that now has to be the time; that most people in the community want a system open to different types of debate and are willing to listen, and given what has happened at the beginning of the year, this may be our best opportunity to take a chance on cracking the ideologically segregated system of debating and judging that has dominated our community for the last decade. IIf we can’t do it now, then when can we? There will always be an excuse not to act. If we don’t proceed then we will never know whether the community can truly confront the controversy. If we believe in the goodwill and trust that will be required for any long term solution then we must we willing to put that faith into the community at this very moment. The delay was described as “kicking the can down the road” and it was very persuasive.

When all was said and done, it was decided that Mutual Preference Judging with aggressive elim placement and no extra rounds was the superior option.  There were still dissenting voices whose words we thought deserved to be heard. Which is why we summarized their position above (we hope we did it justice).  Whether it is tournament procedures, speaker points, and/or judge philosophies, the one group that has had the least power in any of these controversies is the debaters. To say, however, that all of the debaters in the community have been equally affected by these controversies misses some of the most important parts of the conversations we have been having together.There has never been a moment when more people are watching both their own behavior and the behavior of others, no time when we can expect this level of individual effort to truly listen both in and out of debates than we can expect at the Shirley this year.  

The original Shirley proposal was designed for the judges/coaches. It was designed to get more people judging that do not get an ample opportunity to judge in an MPJ system. The experiment required taking more control away from the debaters to ensure that the judges would be both allowed to judge more debaters and forced to interact with different debaters. We don’t want to speak for the rest of our staff, but for us the key argument was that this would disproportionately affect the debaters in our community with the least power. Given the raw numbers in the pool, the likelihood that a team would have to seriously adapt or spend an entire round educating a judge about their arguments would disproportionately fall on the debaters that have had a semester of tournaments subject to controversies over how the adults deal with their arguments. As Neil Berch and others have demonstrated, the judge philosophies reveal that “politics and the case” carries a vocabulary and familiarity among the vast majority of the judging pool. Even if we assumed the total goodwill of the judges, some debaters would spend 8 debates explaining the premise of their arguments and teaching the judges a new vocabulary while others might only have to adapt in a round or two. Yes, this may be the long term solution, but right now that seems like an unfair burden.

Some of our coaches are still comfortable with putting the emphasis on the judges and not the debaters. They argued that the judges need the confrontation and accountability and that the debaters are the right people to do that. In the end, we have asked so much of all the debaters this year (and the black and brown debaters in particular) that it is more important to tip the balance back in favor of empowering the debaters with the full knowledge that this means less opportunity to shake up judge placement. We still think that we have some ways to put some fresh faces in the back of important debates but we want to acknowledge upfront that we are choosing to de-emphasize the judges in the name of creating more control for the debaters.

We have not abandoned the idea of mutuality for future Shirley’s; we hope that judges will work on understanding different ideas and associated vocabularies.  We take these measures with the hope of helping make our community a better place for all. We also hope that the community building continue well beyond the confines of the Wake Forest campus.

Looking forward to hosting everyone in Winston,

Jarrod and Justin on behalf of Wake Forest Debate
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 11:45:41 AM by JustinGreen » Logged
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