Louisville – At it Again?
There they go, protesting again. But wait, there is something different this time. Something so, well, un-Louisville like. Their protest is a balanced criticism of how the debate community needs to bring it’s competitive norms and procedures with an emphasis on the evaluation process, in line with the governing documents of the organizations of policy debate: the Cross Examination Debate Association; the American Debate Association, the National Debate Tournament, and the umbrella for them all, the American Forensics Organizations. Whew, that’s a mouthful, huh?
This time, the protest is backed by legal force, and the notion that the debate evaluation system, largely produced by a written act, flowing, to direct and guide an oral activity of communication like debate, transforms the competition away from all the wonderful ideas and thoughts embraced in the educationally-based mission statements.
Our students have truth on their side, now it’s about learning how to execute their arguments, and by what I saw today, they are well on their way. Lead by the senior driven leadership of Rosie Washington, Tiffany McCollum, Jason Walker, and Marian Kennedy, this semester is truly going to blossom.
So we went to the Navy tournament, and I can assure you controversy and chaos are back! Not many wins, but people were thinking, talking, and engaging because they had to. Some went to great lengths to keep Louisville in its place.
One team cleared, Rosie Washington and Jason Walker. At 4-2 and the 11th seed, they debated Liberty University in the elmination round. The protest was in full effect with an important and powerful moment of protest when Liberty asked a cross-examination question, and Louisville, and I mean LOUISVILLE, answered with the credo from the “Great Debaters:”
Who is the Judge”.
“The judge is God.”
“Why is He God.”
“Because He decides who wins and loses, not my opponent.”
“Who is my opponent?”
“They are invisible.”
“Why are they invisible?”
“Because they are merely a dissenting voice to the truth I speak.”
The decision was a 3-0 for Liberty, one judge voting on the educational value of cross-examination being lost by Louisville’s decision to not engage Liberty’s cross-examination questions. The big picture again falls victim to a minor detail, the story of our lives.
In spite of that, Walker and Washington, in addition to Marian Kennedy, Chris Vincent, Tiffany McCollum, Whitney Abernathy, Shelby Pumphrey, Aaron Weathers, Brian Paige, all Tiffany Dillard, came home excited, rejuvenated, and ready for the next sit-in.
I was so proud of them that I could literally visualize past student movements while watching them: Apartheid, the Freedom Riders, and of course, the Great Debaters. History will remember these students for their role in the urgency and importance of educational reform. One thing is certain: the stronger and more nuanced our arguement gets, the more the community hunkers down and tries to blatantly use their power and privilege to eliminate the threat. On the Naval Academy campus, in the hostile environment of the ADA, the waters seethed with disrespect and hostility everywhere.
But this time as they mobilize through their use of the ballot, and open acts of hostility, we will respond with reinforcements…We will not allow our students to be treated this way without consequences and reprecussions…so stay tuned!
And their successes will be tied to the legacy of those who sacrificed before them in debate: the Great Debaters, Malcolm X, and the UofL Debate Society from 2000 until now.
Below I have added our casebook entry, which explains in detail our argument. While it’s early, I have every reason to believe there will be articles written, talk in the hallway, and a buzz in the air over the meaning of the call made by these educational revolutionaries. It will be fun to watch! Let the hallway discussions begin!
Submitted by Dr. Ede Warner, Jr., an Affirmative Action Professor
Spring 2010, NDT/CEDA/ADA Casebook Entry for all Louisville Debate Teams
All Louisville Teams/Affirmative and Negative:
- Overview: Every participant is bound to utilize debate community norms and procedures consistent with all of the constitutional and operating documents of the three organizations which govern the Navy tournament: the American Debate Association (ADA); the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA); and the umbrella organization of both, the American Forensics Association (AFA). Because the activity should be built on an assumption of “shared governance” between students as debaters, coaches/graduate assistants as judges and directors as faculty administrators who create the governing documents, the evaluation process for every debate must be tested and proven to be consistent with those governing documents. Accountability through faculty governance is missing in construction of a debate evaluation process currently created solely by students and judges.
- Our Criticism: We believe the current evaluation process in every CEDA/ADA/AFA policy debate is not constitutional for three reasons:
- While possible individual evaluation norms and procedures are identified, discussed and advocated openly, both inside and outside of every debate, the construction of an evaluation process for each debate using these conventions is unspoken, covert, and lacks transparency (which ones are used, how they are prioritized, how they work together, etc).
Each debate begins with our opponent putting the content of their “arguments” in a casebook entry and a judging philosophy that discusses different possible debate conventions/strategies that can possibly be used in the evaluation of those arguments. However, it is impossible to test and critique the evaluation process created because 1) it develops organically through the application by a judge of some combination of several specific conventions during the debate; and 2) is not revealed to debaters until AFTER the debate.
In most cases, a judge uses a flow to separate the debate strategies/tactics/arguments, than relies on her or his training and experience to prioritize and assess the arguments and strategies, creating an individual evaluation process for that debate. However, this process is highly subjective, lacks transparency, and predictability since neither a team’s casebook entry nor judging philosophy explicate the entire process. This prevents any meaningful predictability as well as any level of fairness to allow our constitutionally protected challenge of the entire process. It is impossible to test whether the evaluation process is consistent with the organizational documents and principles that govern this debate. And when a flow is not used, the evaluation process is even more subjective, and that includes Louisville judges.
- Debaters and judges don’t consistently practice or enforce all of the individual organizational rules, especially the ADA standing rules.
- Specifically at this tournament, the American Debate Association does not demonstrate how their standing rules uphold, support, and are consistent with other ADA documents like the mission statement in the constitution, as well as the governing documents of the Cross Examination Debate Association and American Forensics Association.
- Our Speeches:
Our speeches in this debate provide ethos, pathos, and logos for our criticism above, demonstrating why our past attempts this season to offer an alternative evaluation process have consistently failed. We will challenge whether the contemporary evaluation process allows students, judges, and faculty governance to engage in the shared responsibility for the constructing a constitutional evaluation process. We protest that the existing process is incapable of protecting our constitutional rights as granted in the organizational documents (ADA/CEDA/AFA) that govern this debate. We choose to stand in unity with the entire University of Louisville Malcolm X Debate Society embracing our mission to “increase effective decision making for a multicultural democracy.
- Our Demands:
- That each team and judge must make a written commitment to follow organizational governing written documents. Doing so creates clear expectations of a constitutional evaluation process in every debate round at this tournament.
- That the evaluation process created from existing conventions, norms and procedures is made transparent through inclusion in each team’s casebook and every judge’s philosophy. This is necessary to create both predictability and accountability.
- That each participant of this tournament is held accountable for a reasonable assessment method of those written evaluation processes. In the CEDA Constitution, Article XV, the Statement of Ethical Principles, Section 2 on Educator Practices, part D. says that a written ballot must be provided for every debate. Since most tournaments no longer give out ballots, we have given you a ballot and ask that you complete it and return it to us before we leave this room.
These demands are not optional considerations for debaters and judges. The ignored community reality is that academic debate is a system of shared governance between faculty directors and administrators, graduate assistants as coaches, and students as debaters. The written documents that govern this tournament cannot be undermined, assumed, or usurped by the created evaluation process used in any debate. Moreover, we believe that the casebook and judging philosophy create a contractual relationship between members that serve to create accountability and responsibility in the shared governance process.
The casebook and judging philosophies are the customs used to facilitate preparation, and as such the entire evaluation process should be clearly communicated in these documents. Courts will likely recognize these types of customs as a large part of the contractual relationship for debate as a higher education systems of shared governance. Hence, we demand that the evaluation process is explicated in casebook entries and judging philosophies to ensure predictability, fairness, and accountability.
Steven Poskanzer’s 2002 Higher Education Law: The Faculty, concludes that “courts have become increasingly willing to recognize and enforce contractual relationships within the academy itself: between the institution and its faculty and between the institution and potential, current, and former students.” (p20) Kaplan and Lee’s 1995 3rd edition of The Law of Higher Education says that the scope and terms of the contract come from a variety of places. “The written contract may range from a notice of appointment…to a lengthy collective bargaining agreement…Or it may not be called a contract at all, but a faculty handbook or an institutional policy manual. (p150)” Poskanzer points out that “The significance of written institutional rules or policies- and, in their absence, unwritten institutional custom and practice- in defining the legal rights and duties of members of the academic community cannot be overestimated.”