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Author Topic: Bring back Latin America!  (Read 3379 times)
jamesherndon3
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« on: May 06, 2014, 07:33:47 PM »

Facebook is a bad forum, for reasons of people like me accidentally high jacking a thread. 

Ricardo has asked that his paper be put back on for several good reasons.  The vote was evidently "close".  Can one of those voters be persuaded otherwise?

I think the threshold for a undergrad only produced topic should be lower. 

For the record, I think everything Galloway said is right about the topic.
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rsl
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Posts: 4


« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2014, 07:44:46 PM »

For context, here's what I originally posted on Facebook.

Debate Community –

As you might have seen earlier today, the topic paper that I submitted on Latin American Drug Policy was not included in the final ballot. This decision was made by the topic committee and was explained to me as a “close vote”. The RFD I was given was due to concerns about me not providing enough guidance to the topic committee. When I pushed further why this was valid, they explained to me that if this paper were to win, they would have to do too much work in the wording portion of the process meaning this was not a viable resolution.

I was not given a chance to defend the paper that I had submitted. I only got notified that a vote happened. This brings up a few questions that I still have not gotten a good answer to:

1) If the topic that I suggested was such a bad idea, would the community just not reject it? What is the disad to having it on the ballot?

2) Is the topic process accessible to undergraduate students, or is it up coaches to submit topics that they think serve the interests of debaters? I think this one is especially problematic in my instance where I don’t have a coaching staff and am a part of a student-run program. How do we get a voice?

3) Isn’t the point of the second phase of the topic process to figure out the wording? I had very limited time due to me driving to and from Kentucky for the TOC, competing at a tournament, and streaming the NDCA (yes – those were back-to-back-to-back) which is why I decided I should focus more on defining the topic area itself rather than providing some random wordings I could find 3 lines in some evidence to support (and if you read the cards I provided, you will see some categories of drug policy reform and mechanism for reform).

I stayed up until the early hours of the morning finishing this paper after driving back from Kentucky because I saw the list of topics offered and felt there should be another option for those wanting to debate an international topic. This was against many people telling me “It will never win after high school debates it” (an assumption I find very problematic… do you only want to talk about Latin America every once in a while because it is a burden? Do you assume that everything about Latin America can be covered in one topic? I highly doubt that the high school topic covered everything we could debate about in Latin America). I’d imagine you would be pretty upset if something you worked that hard on does not even get to be part of the discussion.

The committee told me that I should just work on it some more and submit it next year. There’s a few reasons I’m not interested in that:

1) It is my senior year. I won’t get to debate that topic even if it wins.

2) After seeing the lack of transparency in their process, I have little faith in the topic committee. I hope they decide to change how they go about the area selection process, but that’s not good enough for me. The NDT’s clear announcement of alternates this year didn’t really help Matt and me the year before when we thought that it was going to be the first time that Georgia Tech was ever going to be represented at the NDT.

Why am I telling you this? I demand the paper that I submitted to be part of the discussion. I’ve tried to work with CEDA leadership internally and had little luck. I was hoping that the community could do me a favor and talk to members of the topic committee and convince them to put my topic back on the ballot. It would mean the world to me. We have plenty of time before voting closes.

Thanks for your help.

Your friendly neighborhood video guy,
-Ricardo
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tpacheco
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Posts: 5


« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2014, 08:58:33 PM »

Questions-
Why was the process so untransparent?
Shouldn't the community be told a paper isn't up to par and get some say before the topic committee wishes it away?
Who defended his paper to the committee?
What was so different about the other papers that made them okay?
What were the current debater on the committee and the grad assistant's opinions on this?
Why did no one meaningfully consult with Ricardo?
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kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
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Posts: 345


« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2014, 01:18:59 AM »

May 7, 2014

Dear Ricardo,

The Topic Committee has continued to deliberate about the Latin America topic and the process quite intently.  All the members of the Committee and a number of other CEDA leaders have been devoted to reading all of the papers and producing a ballot of viable controversy areas.  These folks deserve to be thanked for their work on this, especially the students on the Committee who are more than representing the debaters and graduate students through their efforts on evaluating these papers during a busy time in the semester immediately following the national tournaments.

That said, the appreciation goes even further when a member of our community is attending a huge number of tournaments and bringing hundreds of top debates to thousands of people who cannot attend these tournaments or were not able to watch the rounds because they were competing or judging.  The debates, Ricardo, that you are recording and making available are the most extensive and powerful defense of the activity that any one person has ever achieved across a lifetime of service.  Lots of people are following debate and watching debate and realizing how intense and powerful it really is because of your work.  Just as there is uncertainty and racist fear coming from media sources on the right, there is a much more powerful, even if unspoken, feeling of pride and accomplishment and educational rigor among most of the folks who know, follow, love, and are the debate community.

Many, many people who were being told that “debate is broken,” “it’s all falling apart,” or “the activity is being destroyed,” have watched debates that you made available and have seen for themselves how amazing and unbelievably expressive our activity is.  They see a wide range of styles, all making arguments in very compelling, yet different ways—but all demonstrating that there are students out there who care.  The most advanced and academically challenging activity on just about any level is clearly debate and it is taking place every weekend all across the country.  You make that position and that advocacy possible because you allow anyone to see a vast array of college and high school policy debates from anywhere in the world.  And many of these debates, no matter how you slice the content, are impressive displays of a work ethic and commitment to education that many people believe has died.  

In short, Ricardo, given the number of incredibly amazing debates that you are bringing to the community, what I mentioned to you a few weeks ago is not an exaggeration: you are literally the most influential advocate of policy debate in history because you are bringing the best debates—full rounds—to more people than anyone else ever has.  When Scott Odekirk posted about a dozen debates or so on his web site a few years ago, the number of people who viewed those entire rounds was simply astounding.  The numbers were well into the thousands for every single debate.  Typically, a debate in front of fifty people is extremely rare and, even if that debate happened to be recorded, it was not often put on-line in an accessible way.  There were very few full on-line policy debates of high quality on-line prior to your efforts.  Yes, Tuna Snider has done the same kind of work (and his instructional videos including demonstration debates are one of the most significant archives available), but Vermont’s material is not focused on actual tournament policy debates like yours.  That is huge—really, really huge!

That’s a long and perhaps unnecessary tangent about the incredible work that you are doing, but it needs to be said as much as possible.  I do think the author matters in terms of assessing a controversy paper, partly because Foucault is wrong in “What is an Author,” but also because I know that the TC works closely with paper authors when we can and it’s good to have someone you can talk to and work with about where to take the paper.   As a result, I went into my relationship with your paper very willing to fill in holes that might be missing and to give the paper the benefit of the doubt.  I knew the paper was a little short and we talked about that, but my concern was that it needed a “mechanism” to pass muster.  You satisfied my concerns and then some—the generosity I was ready to extend to your paper based on your overall service was not even necessary in order to vote for it in my opinion.

Because I liked your paper and because we had a regular back-and-forth during a relatively short period of time, I am a bit surprised by some of your claims about the Committee.  It is true that your paper did not receive enough votes to be included, but I am not sure you were slighted by the process in the way that you portray it.  I won’t re-post our rather extensive email exchange about that unless you give me permission, but I will say with confidence that we both know you have received a lot of information and a lot of consultation from me along the way.  One message of note was the one where I suggested that the paper might not pass as is and, although it was up to you to submit, it might be something to refine for a later submission.  That happens—in fact it happens about half the time.  The Education paper did not come together (but it will!) because the key people working on it had too much school work crop up in the weeks prior to the deadline.  The Entitlements paper has been postponed.  The “violence vs. oppression” topic had traction for some time but did not get submitted (hopefully it will).  These experiences with other papers led me to caution you a bit about submitting even though it was ultimately your choice.  

That was the first stage—the night you sent me the paper a short period before the extended deadline.  I wish we could have had more of an exchange than we did.  To be honest, I did not know you were submitting a paper until that night—that is not a reason to wait until next year, but it is a reason why consultation with Mike Davis or other authors of previous Latin America topics did not happen.  The fact that there was not a post in the CEDA Forums or elsewhere about an in-coming Latin America topic for the last few weeks is probably due to your NDT/CEDA/NDCA/TOC whirlwind bonanza, but it did prevent us from diving into the literature a bit ahead of time and offering some help.  The extra time I had that Monday night was primarily going toward the labor unions work.  All of these papers come in just under the wire and the timing variables do matter.

The second stage involved the reading of the papers (hundreds of pages) and assessing which ones should be included on the ballot.  During that stage, I think you could have been consulted more and I apologize for that.  Usually, the major consultation occurs before the submission itself, but there is no reason against extending consultation through the deliberation process.   Personally I thought your paper might make it--I was quite convinced by the argument made in your paper that I think bypasses the question of “what is the mechanism?” in a way that answers potential concerns about the depth of the drug policy debate and what aff and neg ground would look like.  One way you answered those concerns for me (because there is a dearth of evidence on some issues involving drug policy reform, particularly on the negative against resolutions with a non-USFG actor in your paper), was by arguing against a topic with the US as the agent.

In that world, in my mind, your evidence was more than sufficient to lead the Committee to a viable slate of resolutions.  If it came down to it, we could just pick 5 or 6 countries and have a set of resolutions based on this model:

R: Columbia/Cuba/Mexico/Peru/ Brazil/ the UN etc. should substantially reform/reverse/eliminate its drug policy/anti-narcotics policies/current approach to illegal drugs.

Keep in mind, though, that only one of the papers was supported by all the members of the Topic Committee and there were a number of controversies that were within a few votes of being excluded.   Personally, as I mentioned, I voted to include your paper because of the way you dealt with the agent question and because I basically have a very very low threshold for voting against a paper.  My feeling is that we need these papers desperately and we have to be supportive of anyone who puts something together that at all makes sense.  Your paper was 4 to 5 times more developed than it needed to be in order to pass my threshold.  But, in defense of the other members of the topic committee, they did not all see your paper in the same way I did and even the members who voted to include it had different reasoning.  I do know, regardless of the direction of the votes, that the TC worked hard to really give all the papers a lot of attention.   The arguments against including your paper are sound and well-warranted even though I disagree.

So, we have come to an impasse.  The TC has taken your message to heart as we took your paper to heart and we voted on a motion to reconsider your controversy paper.  If it is possible to add the Latin America option without adding time to the voting process, we are voting on whether to reconsider adding it to the ballot.  If the motion to reconsider passes and it is feasible to add the Latin America area to the ballot, it will then be necessary for a change in vote from one of the committee members who initially voted to exclude it.  We will keep you posted on how this proceeds.  I will be honest—it’s a long shot.  So, from here, where do we go?  I’ll do my best to keep you posted on the reasoning and the votes and the results.  If and when you are Ok with adding some of our earlier exchanges to this response, we can talk more about working to codify the standards for inclusion.  We have great guidelines for paper authors from Dr. Stables, now we need to think about publicizing some guidelines that the Committee uses to make the determination to include or not.  

Thank you once again, and please continue to stay in touch.  I am more than willing to share our earlier consultation with a wider audience if you are comfortable with that.  Just let me know and keep fighting the good fight.

Sincerely,

Kevin Kuswa
Topic Committee Chair
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 08:21:38 PM by kevin kuswa » Logged
rsl
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Posts: 4


« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2014, 05:56:25 AM »

I'm happy to share all email exchanges between us. They are compiled and attached in the PDF below. I don't know if we have the same definition of extensive.

* Email Exchange between Ricardo and Kevin.pdf (125.97 KB - downloaded 487 times.)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 08:18:45 AM by rsl » Logged
kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
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Posts: 345


« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2014, 10:12:08 AM »

Hi Ricardo,

Thanks for compiling these.  I suppose our exchanges are not as extensive as they could be, but I don't think I need to shove my foot too far down my throat (just yet) Smiley.  Keep in mind that I didn't know the paper was coming in and we still managed to have all of these exchanges over a 1-day period--often things like this take a lot longer and the feedback is even more cryptic.  It's a small and maybe meaningless consolation, but your work on the paper and this process will help make a difference as we strive for the best ways to generate a controversy ballot and a slate of wordings.

More shortly,

Kevin
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kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
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Posts: 345


« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2014, 10:54:05 AM »

Decision not to reconsider Latin America:

The TC has voted not to reconsider Latin America.  I am not going to copy and paste all of the reasoning here, but I will provide a summary and try to answer some of the questions in the original demand for inclusion posted yesterday afternoon.  You can also contact any of the Committee members for further information.  The Latin America paper is not ready for inclusion on the ballot and the attempt to reconsider it and change the ballot is a precedent not worth setting.  Even though it is not the way I personally voted on this question, I respect the TC’s decision.  We have decided on the ballot and we should move ahead with those choices.  According to a majority, there are some DAs to adding the area, including one or more of these arguments:

1. It could win and it does not have the direction or depth needed to assist the community and the TC in coming up with a diverse and viable set of resolutions.

2. All of the papers had to receive at least 5 votes for inclusion and others were also close.  To single out one paper that did not make it and give it a nod would distort the reason for voting on inclusion in the first place.

3. Although it is not the case with this paper, we cannot set a precedent for a controversy ballot that has every phrase and word that people decide to submit, regardless of the research and development behind those phrases.  Everything submitted does not automatically reach the ballot—some standards have to be applied.

4. Yes, those standards need codification, but each person on the TC tried to follow the very general question of whether the controversy paper in question should be included.  A majority decided no and that vote should carry the decision.

5. It is not final in terms of the future viability of this area and this paper.  It may not be possible to debate on this topic this year, but it has to be recognized that these papers take some time and often need more work to be ready.  Consulting with previous paper authors in the same area and responding to feedback from more than the TC over a longer period of time is also a helpful goal.  All of that is possible with the Latin America topic.

6. Other, more individualized thoughts on this that each TC member can relate.

It is unfortunate, but that is where we are.  Please continue to stay in touch and let us know if there are any other questions.  We have a good ballot of topics and we will stay as transparent as we possibly can.

Sincerely,

Kevin
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rsl
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Posts: 4


« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2014, 07:16:15 PM »

That's very disappointing. I do not plan on continuing to work on my topic paper. I hope others will take it up and submit it for next year, but I have a feeling that won't happen. It's an interesting area.

For the record - there is only one person called Jesus in the debate community that I know of and he is a debater for Bingmapton University. I don't know why that comment was necessary.

I have more to say, but i'm going to hold it until after the area vote is done. Please discuss all of the resolutions y'all. The amount of silence on everything but Russia on this forum and facebook is creepy.

-Ricardo
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 07:18:36 PM by rsl » Logged
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