Candidate statements for the 2016-2017 elections are below. You can scroll down to see them, or use the following links to jump to particular statements:
- Vice President of Operations
- Vice President of Finance
- Member at Large
My name is Jerusalem Demsas, and I am running to be APDA President for the 2016 – 2017 season. I am currently a Member-at-Large, the President of the William & Mary Debate Society and have served as a member of Women's Initiative, a member of the Equal Opportunity Facilitator's Program as well as the Vice President of Operations on my own team. Debate is something I found by chance, and APDA has become a real home for me. I am so grateful for all of the people and opportunities that I have come across and am excited and hopeful for the ability to give back in any way I can. There are three main attributes that I believe make me qualified for the position: experience, organization and personality.
As the only person running for Board who has served on the APDA Board before, I believe I have the unique ability to make sure that next year's board is well equipped to handle the duties of the board. As a Member-At-Large, I spent much of my time liaising with the Equal Opportunity Facilitators. I was there as a resource, consistently made myself available to them, particularly Vegas Longlois, the chair, and advised them on by-laws and other important league interests. Further, recognizing that there were many things that this Board was unable to accomplish only makes me more determined and ready to fix the hindrances which stopped us in the past.
The single most important thing that is needed to be APDA President is organization. Keeping track of everyone else's duties as well as being open and responsive to questions and concerns from the league as a whole is incredibly important. My own experience as President of the William & Mary Debate Society has made me aware of the difficulties of working with several board members to ensure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and working towards mutual goals. My sophomore year, my team elected me as Vice President of Operations, I was in charge of registration, a budget, housing at tournaments, car rentals, maintaining our bank account with our finicky local bank in Williamsburg, pairings, registration breaks, the list goes on. My team entrusted me with this responsibility because of my organizational skills.
Finally, I believe my personality lends itself well to this position. As an EOF my sophomore year, I had to deal with several challenges. I was not a confrontational person but learning how to speak up for others was an incredibly fulfilling part of my experience on APDA. My ability to be firm, yet understanding allowed me to approach equity as a learning experience which I hope helped several people. As such, I was asked to be an Equity Officer for 10 tournaments that year. Further, this year, even though I have not been a formal member of the EOF program, several people, many of whom I do not know, have come to me with equity concerns. This demonstrates my ability to be an open resource to the league for serious problems as well as administrative ones. A trait that is necessary for anyone wishing to be a member of the APDA Board.
Thanks for reading! And if you have any questions feel free to talk to me on facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks a ton!
VICE PRESIDENT FOR OPERATIONS
My name is Andrew Bowles, and I'm currently a junior at GW. I've been debating on APDA since Hopkins my freshman year, which was my introduction to competitive debate. As a sophomore I was a Novice Mentor, a member of the Women's Initiative, and the Vice President for Operations of the GW Parliamentary Debate Society. This year, I've served as the Southern Events Coordinator for the Novice Mentor committee, a member of the Video Task Force, and the President of the GWPDS. Membership in those committees and holding leadership roles on my own team have been among the most rewarding parts of my experience on APDA.
I'm running for Vice President for Operations of the APDA board with the goal of ensuring APDA can be as positive and rewarding a space for everyone who might be a part of it as it has been for me. I was incredibly fortunate to join a reasonably well established team as a novice, and have mentors and varsity debaters who helped me learn. I joined an incredibly accepting environment, and the GW team quickly became home for me. I know, though, that this isn't the experience many have on the circuit, and my goal in running for the board is to try to change that.
As a member of APDA's various committees, I've already started some of the work that I think is so important to the future of this league. As a novice mentor, I've worked with novices from a number of schools, and tried to learn as much as I can about what makes people stick around or not on the league. As a member of the Women's Initiative, I was involved in conversations that have stuck with me about the injustices sexism imposes on our league. As a member of the VTF, I'm trying to get as many rounds recorded as possible, to be a resource for debaters who can't afford to compete every weekend. I want to use what I've learned working for these committees to help whoever I can, wherever I can, access APDA better.
From these experiences, I've seen a few things I'd like to change through the board. In particular, I think the board needs to take a more active role in supporting teams on the fringes. This starts with the expansion committee being more active in providing resources, but honestly a lot of it comes down to individual members of the board and the committee's pushing to get more videos online as learning tools, helping to convince schools administrations that funding is worthwhile where they can, and generally being accessible to schools that are not already established. If the board can reach out more actively, and ensure that all the resources we already have are accessible, I think that will make a huge difference in the long run. I think one of the easiest ways to do this would be to replicate the office hours concept several committee's already do, to make board members and committee members explicitly available to anyone who needs help.
The place I've learned the most about debate, though, is from my own team. When I joined the GW team, we had 5-6 active upperclassmen and 2-3 novices. Last year, I was the Vice President for Operations when we had the largest recruitment class in institutional memory. I signed up to take a leadership position in a team of a 8 or 9 people and suddenly was responsible for managing logistics for 20+ people every weekend. It was difficult, but also one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had- seeing everyone get an opportunity to debate made the hours of dealing with our school's administration more than worth it. That's why I ended up the President of the GW team this year, where we've taken on a similarly large recruitment class and I've been in the same place- overworked but honored to be a part of giving back to a team that gave so much to me. I'm running for the board because APDA gave me as much if not more than GW did, and I want to be able to do the same for the league.
My name is Mars He. I'm a sophomore at Harvard and I'm running for Vice President of Operations. APDA has been a huge part of my life for the past two years and I'd love to be able to do as much as I can do make it as good as an experience for others as it has been for me.
Having served as VP-Ops for the Harvard team, organizing reg, transportation, and housing, I've had plenty of experience in making sure that administrative tasks get done properly and on time. My experience, in combination with the fact that APDA Web is already on my "most visited websites" list on my phone browser, means that I'll definitely fulfill my responsibilities of making sure that the forum is updated with results, minutes, and announcements. I'll also be keeping track of tabs and results from tournaments for Eligibility and –OTY purposes.
Another duty of VP Ops is to help run meetings and take notes. I think that this duty isn't only important in a purely administrative sense – especially after attending the Rutgers APDA meeting this year, and seeing the importance of these meetings as a space for much-needed discussion, I think this role is also important for cementing and documenting real and important change that APDA makes towards becoming a more inclusive institution. I already attend tournaments almost every weekend, so I'd have no problem and would be quite happy to do this job.
Finally, I'll be keeping APDA Web updated. I'll make sure that I do a good job of this because I recognize how important the website is. It's often the firstâ€”and onlyâ€”online resource that novices have access to, and for newer teams it could potentially serve as one of their most important links to learning about and getting involved with APDA and APDA-style debate.
VP Ops is also responsible for appointing the committee that selects the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, which emphasizes non-competitive dimensions of what it means to be successful on APDA, including devotion to APDA and Debating itself. Since becoming the VP Training for the Harvard team, I've focused on encouragement and proper recognition of being not only good debaters but also good people. Having served on the Diversity Initiative Committee and as current Co-Chair of the Novice Mentor committee, I've had the privilege of meeting many different and wonderful debaters from across the circuit, on the committees and through both my novice hybrids. I'd ensure that the Distinguished Service Award had a committee behind it that would consider the full spectrum of contributions that debaters have made to APDA.
That being said, I want to make sure that recognition of the many great contributions that debaters make to APDA, both in and out of rounds (and in outrounds) is not limited only to a few awards. I think making sure that debaters that make APDA a happier and more inclusive space have the opportunity to be on the committees that will only multiply their reach, and also that debaters that need that space can access it. Because I think APDA can and should become more inclusive and accessible, I'll make sure to keep all of this in mind when working with the rest of the Board to decide committee assignments. If you have any questions, please reach out on the boards, on Facebook, or at email@example.com.
Thanks so much!
VICE PRESIDENT FOR FINANCE
Hi APDA! I'm currently a junior at Brown University, running for Vice President of Finance. I'm qualified for this position, and I have ideas that can help APDA to become a more equitable and more accessible place for current and future debaters.
My past experiences have prepared me for both of the primary responsibilities of the VP Finance position: filing APDA's (990-N) tax-exempt status with the IRS, and collecting and managing annual dues from member institutions. I've had previous experience working for an educational nonprofit where I assisted in filing for tax-exempt status for the organization, as well as grant-writing. I'm also currently the Vice President of Finance for the Brown team, and am responsible for writing the budget, handling payments and collections of payments for our tournament, and communicating with the Brown Undergraduate Finance Board and the Brown Debate Union's eboard.
There are a number of other proposals that I would hope to support as VP Finance: First, I believe that ADPA could better assist its current programs (such as Gender Empowerment Initiative or the Equal Opportunity Facilitators Program) at tournaments. Oftentimes these programs hold meetings at tournaments. But leaders of the committees say that one of the biggest barriers for them is getting through all that they want to present before tab tells them that it's time to go, or getting people to show up at all if the tournament is having banquet or the break announcement somewhere else. The board could both encourage tournaments to take measures to make it easier to hold EOF and GEI meetings: tournaments can allow EOF and GEI meetings to happen at banquet or GBM and could also make sure to coordinate with tab to hold rounds or the break until these meetings are over. Additionally, the board itself could set aside funds to help these programs, giving financial support so that the EOF or GEI can better change the league (through even relatively inexpensive means, such as getting refreshments for meetings to draw more debaters).
Second, I think that there are policies that the board can encourage schools could take to be able to expand reg breaks. While the current system of evaluating the financial condition of schools provides a way to assist many schools, the reality is still that many schools are unable to give reg breaks or unwilling to cut into their own profits to do so. One way to provide potentially more funds for reg breaks is to set up more individual sponsorships between corporations and tournaments, which would provide an additional source of revenue. I would be willing and able to help schools with reaching out to different sponsors, which would allow individual schools the financial ability to give more reg breaks.
My last proposal is provide more support to expansion schools. Many expansion schools have relatively scarce funding, and obtain much of their small budget from their tournaments rather than their institutions. While there are many ways to assist expansion schools (getting them on the schedule, making APDA tournaments a more friendly place in general to debaters from expansion schools), I think assisting expansion schools with their tournaments is one of the most important areas that needs attention. Smaller schools often do not have the tab staff to run a tournament, the funds to pay for a tab observer or the connections to easily find a reputable tab observer, or enough members to share the work of running a tournament. The board could help in all of these areas: we could do our best to make sure that expansion are always staffed with reputable tab observers, and that they have the money to pay for a tab observer to travel to their tournament, and stay in contact with senior members of the team to support and answer the questions of a team that has not run many, or any, tournaments before.
Should I be elected, I would always be willing to listen to feedback from the broader community in order to help more debaters gain easier access to a fairer league. If you have any concerns, questions, or comments about my ideas or any other areas of my candidacy, please reach out to me to via Facebook or email.
MEMBER AT LARGE
My name is Ricky Cambo, currently a senior at Brown University and running for Member at Large of the APDA Board. I have been on the league for almost 3 years now and have grown to view this league as my home. I want to do whatever I can to give back and help make this league a better place.
I have been a member of Brown's Executive Board this past year as their Events Coordinator Chair, and I have also spent the past two years serving on the Video Task Force. This past summer, I was allowed to Chair the committee and it has been my largest contribution to the league this year. I have been helping with the maintenance of the videos.apdaweb.org website and I also helped create a list of every video on the website by topic area to assist people when they try to learn from these videos. I also have been in contact with tournaments all year about calibration. I want to run for MAL because I have a few unique ideas that can help the league, and I believe I can uniquely use information I gathered by being the head of the Video Task Force to accomplish my goals.
First and foremost, I have a very strong desire to make sure every tournament is calibrating their judging pools in the best way possible. This involves not only making sure that tournaments have calibration rounds to calibrate their judges, but that they also have information collected from Dinos across the circuit that help them properly grade the calibration results. The VTF distributed calibration materials to many schools in the first semester, but I want to increase the amount of schools that are calibrating their judges. This is something I can better accomplish by being a MAL because one of the unique jobs of the MAL is to coordinate with tournaments, especially smaller tournaments, about setting up TOs and providing any help the tournament may need. This gives me a unique ability to help assist as many tournaments as possible in calibration by making sure they all have calibration materials.
Better calibration on the circuit not only helps the circuit with judging, but this also can help fix a lot of the equity issues in debate. Most of the issues in creating a safe space for everyone on the league comes from many people usually getting feedback from judges that can be insensitive and embedded with racist and/or sexist undertones. Better calibration can help solve for this by removing these judges from higher-level rounds. We can also create judging training programs to help these schools train their varsity and novice classes. This involves not just providing a teaching tool as to how to judge a debate round, but providing a guideline where these schools can go over what it really means to engage in sexist and/or racist Judging. Many of these judges that do make people feel uncomfortable with their feedback largely do so because they don't have the awareness that there is a problem with their judging. Often the important step in fixing this type of judging is to make people aware that there is a problem in the first place.
I would also work very hard to make sure tournaments have all the tournament staff they need to run a Tab Room. A big problem on the league this year has been a lack of proper tabbing. Many tournaments this year have had some Tab issues that came up because of general unfamiliarity with Tab software, lack of a present TO, and lack of communication with an outside TO. I will be very involved to make sure these issues aren't present next year so that the APDA Board can feel comfortable that every school has the proper people in place to make sure the tournament runs smoothly. Tab problems are a serious concern because when tournaments have tab issues, that usually means the tournament runs out of schedule and takes a lot longer. This makes tournaments less fun and makes it more likely novices don't enjoy their weekends and drop out of the league.
I would also try to make sure that I help tournaments make APDA's public resources known to everyone in GA. Oftentimes many individuals are not aware of resources like Novice Mentors, EOFs, GEI, VTF, etc. Every tournament I attend I will work with the committee members to make sure that they all make themselves present to the debaters so these resources can be maximized by everyone on the league.
Unfortunately, I will not be present at the Princeton elections. I am traveling with my family to Colorado and Texas during the week as that week is my spring break. This trip has been planned for a full year and I unfortunately can't get out of it as non-refundable plane tickets and many other reservations have already been made. I promise I will be very active on the Forums to answer any and all questions about my candidacy and I will do what I can to make myself available over the phone during the MAL elections to answer any other questions people may have.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook at "Ricky Cambo" if you have anymore questions about my platform. Thanks!
My name is Harry Elliott, and I'm a Stanford sophomore running for Member-at-Large. It's been an interesting two years on the league studying two and a half thousand miles away from most tournaments. Attending a competition means a three-day commitment and a bleak journey across the country, and my team at the time I joined had minimal experience and few cases. That said, the community that has always welcomed me makes the effort worth it.
I've had the honour of being a financial officer for Stanford's debate society, and an Expansion Coordinator for the West this year. I know the board has limited immediate power, but the measures I want to enact require a vigorous push from the top. I'm not northern or southern, so hope to get past the worst regionalism we've seen in recent years to bring clear change to the league.
My candidacy for MAL has four key components. First, I want to launch a clear and strong effort to build up the West's presence on the league, not only for Stanford and Berkeley but also for smaller schools like SJSU who constantly express interest in participating but need more resources than a sole EC can provide. I will spearhead initiatives like constant sparring rounds between Bay Area schools and more in-depth tournament assistance that will give the league a meaningful west coast presence. As a foreigner who still finds the nuances of APDA marginally alien at heart – and who has a geographic presence in the area – I am the only person able to offer this significant expansion to the league. I would also push to help spur interest in APDA in the West, members' votes permitting, by making Berkeley finals an auto-qual, to give teams with few resources to travel a serious motivation to participate.
Second, I want to use my skills as an Expansion Coordinator within the board to provide clear materials and resources to schools that need it. This includes both case-writing workshops online that I am happy to lead, knowing that many schools are just not close enough to work in person with ECs, and also logistical help. Having rebooked a string of flights and been stranded in JFK after a snowstorm, I am well aware of the issues new schools face when they are further away than a two-hour drive. I have the experience and the organisational skills to launch a formalised ride-sharing service for teams coming from afar, and to provide other transportation and logistical assistance. I can also assist tournaments in reaching out to nearby schools. I have previously faced administrative roadblocks with my school's administration when going to tournaments, so have experience that I would be eager to put to use.
Third, I want to bring what I have learned from two years on the British circuit and judging BP rounds to APDA's paradigms, by instituting international norms of equity and fairness on APDA. This means guaranteed help for tournaments looking for adjudication teams, including rosters of suggested names based on location, background, experience and diversity. I would also like to normalize Australs-style motions – where both teams rank three motions per round and debate their mutual preference, mitigating the impact of triggers – or otherwise provide tournaments with the oversight they need to ensure rounds are fair and non-exclusionary.
I would apply stronger standards to judging on the league. We should normalise the BP practice of creating clear judging guides for people new to the activity. Judges should be required to defend their RFDs orally, and also be asked to provide a brief written RFD to accompany online rounds, to help expansion schools and novices. I be happy to write potential RFDs myself so debaters can learn more than "Gov won". I would introduce standardized calibration rounds and judge feedback from debaters to give tournaments more information than comes from favouritism and past success. Good debaters do not always make good judges.
Fourth, I believe there are a number of clear equity policies that ought be enacted yet have not been thus far. The board should advocate more strongly for alternative social events at tournaments that are less centred around drinking. We should also mandate one sober EOF to take care of issues that arise at social events, to ensure people always have support when they require it.
I am happy to say these ideas are not exclusively mine, but rather built up from conversations I have had with dozens of teams on the league in past weeks. I look forward to talking with many more of you in the coming weeks. Thank you for your time, and please don't hesitate to reach out (email@example.com / 650-898-9179) if you have further questions.
You're the light, you're the night, you're the colors on my flow. You're the cure, you're the pain, you're the community that I've grown to love. Never knew that it could mean so much, so much!
By chance I joined the Harvard parliamentary debate team freshman year, and APDA has been my second home ever since. Debate itself is a rewarding activity, and the people on this circuit are the reason that I travel to tournaments every weekend. To give back to this wonderful community, I am running for a MAL position on the 2016 Executive Board.
I have been heavily involved with the Gender Empowerment Initiative and the Expansions Committee. We transitioned from Women's Initiative to GEI to become more inclusive and respectful of different identities. Chairing it has made me very aware of the gender-based barriers that people face, and I collaborated with the EOF Chair (Vegas Longlois) to put together a survey on the experiences of trans and gender non-binary debaters. At Yale ProAms, I presented a Gender 101 workshop as part of the larger Equity/Gender Equity event. As a committee, each of us hosts office hours and hybrids with debaters of minority backgrounds. While we still have a long way to go, I am incredibly proud of how far we've come in the open dialogues and the increased representation and success of women at tournaments.
I have also served as the New England Expansions Coordinator for the past two semesters. I've connected schools with resources and a guide-to-APDA that Geneva Kropper and I wrote. Additionally, I've offered to assist with tournament logistics and reg breaks to schools that do not compete as often.
On my own team, I'm mostly involved with running our annual APDA tournament and helping with retention of novices and female debaters. Running the tournament this year and directing tab last year were amazing learning experiences as I helped negotiate rooms and housing to accommodate for 350+ people and oversaw tab. Our inaugural run with Tabroom was successful and we were the most on time than we've been in the past few years. While the tournament has often been in good hands, an issue we've had as a team is the retention of female and novice debaters. I've helped to bridge the gender gap by competing every weekend so that the team has consistent female representation, assisting with the tryout process and participating in our demo debates, reaching out to individual debaters during and after tournaments, and offering myself as a resource during the school year. Our retention of female debaters and novices has vastly improved in the past year, and I am very grateful to be a part of the more diverse team.
As a MAL, I hope to continue making APDA a more equitable and accessible place. I will be more than happy to liaise for GEI, EOF, and the Diversity Initiative. Additionally, I will help GEI continue its gender-related workshops and surveys as it goes into its second semester. As I have made active efforts to get to know most debaters at tournaments, I will continue to do so and make myself available as a resource for people both at and outside of tournaments. I will also continue debating and hybriding with women and other minorities on the circuit. My experience serving on GEI will be valuable to the board as we look to implement broader initiatives in inclusivity.
Additionally, it seems one of the bigger issues on the circuit is some teams' unfamiliarity with the tournament process and tabbing software. As a previous TD, I sympathize. As a MAL, I will actively work to check in with the hosting schools to make sure that they have every available resource at their disposal. I think having a uniform speaker point scale or judging guide to distribute at tournaments would be very helpful. Also, connecting schools with dinos who can serve as Tab Observers can ensure that everything goes according to plans. Especially for teams who have not had much experience using tab software (Tabroom and MIT Tab), checking in with the tab staff ahead of time will help prevent potential technical issues.
I am open to suggestions and comments if you have other ideas on how to improve our community. It's a love story--APDA just say yes?
Hi everyone -- my name is Pallavi Gulati, I attend UNC - Chapel Hill, am a member of Carolina Debating Union, and I am running for Member-at-Large on the APDA Board for the 2016-2017 year. Since coming to college, APDA has been an incredibly positive and empowering experience. As such, I want to be able to provide people with a similar experience, so that it can be rewarding and inclusive of everyone. I'm going to focus on two things in statement: my qualifications and then my plans.
My leadership positions both within my team and on the league (as Vice President of Finance for my team, an Expansion Committee member in both the Fall and Spring, and Novice Mentor in the Spring) have given me the necessary experience for this position. As Vice President of Finance, I have successfully managed a very small budget that has allowed all debaters to go to the tournaments they want to without incurring any personal cost. UNC has almost no funding, so I am responsible for a number of things including negotiating reg breaks, creating and balancing our budget, handling reimbursements and any extra costs. My experience in these matters is something that would translate well to the MAL position, as I have a deeper understanding of the financial limitations faced by many teams, and am thus prepared to help advocate for them.
As a member of Expansion Committee, I currently work with four schools in the South (Emory, Vanderbilt, FAU, and Duke) who are developing their teams and have helped them with a number of issues including working with their administrations, providing them guides to debate, and putting them in contact with other useful people. This has included things like conducting joint practices with Duke, visiting Florida Atlantic University to work with their president, and providing them with any additional resources they lack. This past semester, Michelle Jiang and I put together a very extensive guide that cataloged all the steps to joining APDA; including guides to retention, alcohol policies, recruitment methods, resources, and individuals to contact for expansion schools joining the league which is more extensive than any guide before it.
I have also been training my own team's novices for the past year. Due to measures implemented by myself and the other members of our debate board, we have had strong retention in novices, from a diversity of backgrounds, and a larger class than ever before. We have focused specifically on development of a holistic skill set, with more explanation of how things like flowing and argument generation work, which has served to increase retention of novices without high school debate experience. This experience with my own novices, and conversations I've had with other novices on the circuit from schools that are not traditionally successful on APDA, is what encouraged me to join Novice Mentors in the hopes of helping to create a more diverse circuit with greater novice retention.
These experiences demonstrate my dedication to and skills in APDA.
I think many of the major issues on APDA are highly intertwined, and solving or at least mitigating them stands to benefit everyone. To this effect, I believe targeting the issues of expansion, retention, and proper calibration are ones that I genuinely care about and will be beneficial to all of APDA.
In regards to expansion, I believe that there are two essential considerations in helping new schools grow and thrive. The first is helping these schools access and succeed at tournaments. Encouraging expansion schools to attend novice tournaments, and facilitating their ability to do so through things like reg breaks, allows them an opportunity to both compete with people who are similarly new to APDA and to create friendships and connections earlier on in the year. In addition, they are more likely to receive more nuanced feedback given that the judges are varsity and dino debaters with more judging and calibration experience. Beyond simply novice tournaments, being granted reg breaks and waiving other fees and requirements is essential in allowing expansion schools to more easily access APDA. As Member-At-Large, I would be happy to coordinate with expansion schools to appeal for reduced reg fees, waived judge requirements, and anything else that is needed to allow more people to compete. Lastly, making sure they also have access to materials that allow them to succeed on APDA--such as guides to debate, recruitment, and more--is essential. As mentioned above, I worked with Michelle Jiang to create such a guide, and as MAL, would continue to coordinate with expansion committee and expansion schools to add any other needed information. The second consideration in helping expansion schools is aiding them in running their tournaments. This has positive repercussions for everyone on APDA, as it creates a better competitive experience for everyone else, and when well organized, is a positive source of income for many teams with smaller budgets. To this end, I believe that there are simple solutions to ensure that expansion schools know what they need in order to run a tournament. The first is the creation of something like a checklist to be given to each school before their tournament, with both the necessary materials (reserve rooms, get a tab observer, etc.) and a timeline to help them plan. I additionally believe that board members should check in to ensure that these things are done, both for the sake of the school hosting the tournament, and for the people competing.
The second issue, that of calibration, is obviously one that concerns all of APDA. While judging may never be perfect, there are certainly ways in which it can be improved, and I believe that I could help implement them as a Member-At-Large. Firstly, it is essential that schools have access to all necessary resources in order to calibrate, such as the RFDs of highly calibrated and experienced judges in addition to good calibration rounds. Having TOs who can help them do this is also important, even if the person cannot be at the tournament physically. Instituting something like a TO-on-call program would be extremely helpful, both for the team running the tournament and for the competitors, in ensuring that it is fairly run. Additionally, to combat issues of systemic discrimination on APDA, ensuring that these rounds represent gender and racial diversity is essential, as are judge trainings that include discussions of things like judge biases. Obviously, not every school has the infrastructure or experience to give these trainings, but I would like to work with members of the DI, GEI, EOF program, and VTF to create guide videos on how to judge without biases and how to weigh things like personal experiences in a round to ensure that no one feels as though they or their experiences are being belittled. I would also encourage schools to have judge feedback forms, as were used as the American tournament and at the UNC tournament this year, as they help weed discriminatory judges out of the pool. In addition, the APDA board requiring proof of calibration (along with number of schools, number of competitors, etc.) after tournaments helps solve for many of these issues. This means every tournament has to calibrate their judges, or at least has a much higher incentive to do so, because failure to will at the very least be brought up at tournament scheduling meetings. Including watching and adjudicating rounds as part of practice for schools newer to the circuit (and schools generally!) also helps create better judging experiences, in addition to helping these individuals grow as debaters.
Finally, retention. It should be acknowledged that the people who could teach us the most about what changes are needed to create better retention rates are in fact the people who drop off. Their voices generally are not heard, and this creates a sort of feedback loop wherein not much positive change is effected. In order to address this, I would be interested in working with EOF to create a climate survey asking people about their experiences on APDA, times they've felt close to quitting, and so on. Asking schools to reach out to people on their team who've dropped off to ask them why also generates more information that allows for more focused approaches to retention. In addition, simple fixes like having designated non drinkers at every party, providing bottled water, making sure that everyone is invited to social occasions, and ensuring no one has to pay out of pocket for food are simple ways to make people feel more at home on APDA. Encouraging committees (and people generally) to prize intersectionality in their hybrids also helps a great deal, as does providing materials to help debaters with no high school experience. Through implementation of these ideas, and generation of and response to feedback, we will be able to create a more diverse and welcoming circuit. APDA has been a second home to me, and I would like to provide everyone else with that experience. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions either over Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
My name is Katy Li, and I'm a sophomore from Johns Hopkins running for Member-at-Large. APDA has been a second community to me during my time in college, and it's my goal to make this true for everyone who wants to be a part of the league. I think the progress we've made as a community in the past few years is extremely impressive, and I would be grateful to have an opportunity to help continue this trend. I believe that my previous experience makes me uniquely suited to this role in several ways. I'll first speak about my position on the Hopkins team, then my work for APDA in general. The Hopkins Debate Team has no formal leadership structure and has historically been quite small, so most varsity are expected to contribute to the management of the team. As one of only four or five varsity members on the team this school year (dropping from five to four after a member graduated a semester early), I have frequently arranged and lead our twice-a-week novice practices, assisted novices with casewriting, taught them the mechanics of APDA-style debate, and looked after them at tournaments. The Hopkins varsity as a whole have also made a concerted effort to form stronger social bonds with the novices than in previous years, which has resulted in an active novice class over twice the size of what we had at this same time in 2015.
Working closely with our novices this year has given me valuable insight into the best ways to help inexperienced debaters overcome their lack of confidence, which I believe is one of the greatest barriers to increasing novice participation on the league. This confidence gap, as described by a GEI survey last semester, stems not only from a fear of debating itself, but also from some novices' inability to become fully integrated into the social side of APDA, a central part of the experience. Feeling socially excluded is a problem that, like biased judging, most profoundly affects gender and racial minorities and is undoubtedly a major factor in decreasing their representation on this league. My efforts with our current novices and my own experiences as a novice on the league allow me to understand the alienation many newcomers feel, making me well-qualified to address these concerns. To this end, I have pushed myself to be much more social this year than last and reach out to people I had not previously interacted with, particularly freshmen and sophomores. Since one of the main purposes of Members-at-Large is to be a source of support for people on APDA, being seen as open and welcoming as an important part of the position.
Aside from these factors, my work as a member of the Gender Empowerment Initiative Committee has also prepared me for the responsibilities of MAL. My main responsibility last semester was interviewing about a dozen female APDA alumnae about their experiences on APDA and life afterwards and taking notes so they could later be turned into articles. The intent was to raise the profile of often overlooked female debaters, since most conversation about APDA alumni centers around men, and have some institutional record of their accomplishments. Hearing about the dramatic changes in APDA's culture within the last five years alone, from equity meetings being openly mocked to something that is accepted as an unquestionably good fixture of the league, was both inspiring and enlightening. While unfair judging is undoubtedly an issue that must be addressed, the thing most of the alumnae mentioned in their discussion of sexism on APDA was in fact the harmful social norms that pushed a lot of women out of debate. If we truly want to retain a more diverse class of debaters, this problem ought to be addressed as systematically as that of biased judges.
One possibility I would like to see implemented is hosting social mixers at tournaments specifically for novices (potentially sophomores as well), particularly those who are women. While encouraging bonds between varsity and novice would obviously be beneficial as well, I feel as though many novices, especially those who don't attend as many tournaments, feel somewhat intimidated by varsity and are less likely to approach them or feel comfortable enough to interact unrestrainedly. These barriers exist less between novices, making it more likely that they can form lasting bonds that will make them feel welcome on APDA and encourage them to come back. Putting aside certain social spaces solely for the purpose of novices getting to know each other at seems like an excellent way to facilitate this, particularly at the beginning of the year, when the social transition is most difficult. I also think the league should seriously consider a proposal Sean mentioned in his candidate statement last year, which was removing the membership cap for the Novice Mentor Committee. Requiring only one hybrid per semester is reasonable given that varsity are constrained for time and have a responsibility to their own team, but it also doesn't really allow for a strong relationship to form. If we had a larger novice mentor class, we could assign each novice mentor to one or two (or even three, if we're feeling ambitious) novices on the league, with minority novices and novices from expansion schools getting priority. These novice mentors could hybrid with their novices as much as is practical, but their main role would be providing debate-related (e.g. casewriting) and social support, providing an "in" to the league which many novices lack. In addition to being helpful on a practical level, it would also be incredibly heartening for otherwise marginalized novices to see that they have someone firmly in their corner.
Like many people have been pointing out this year, being a part of APDA is about more than just competitive success. Many of the best people on APDA don't regularly break or win speaker awards, and they undoubtedly contribute as much to the leagueâ€”or moreâ€”as those who do. If we want to continue the progress we have made towards creating a more welcoming environment, address the non-competitive inequalities that exist is crucial.
If you have any questions or ideas for me, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or message me on Facebook (Katy Jiayun Li)! I'm extremely open to any suggestions and will be happy to clarify my stance on anything. And please don't hesitate to contact me for any other reason as well!
My name is Eric Tannenbaum, and I am running for Member at Large. I am a sophomore at The College of New Jersey, and have served on their executive board for two years, as Vice President of Operations. I've been very active on APDA the last 2 years, and I've tried to go to as many tournaments as I can reasonably attend. I've also done my best to be an active part of the social aspect of APDA as well, reaching out to people on the league regardless of who they are.
I think I have a very unique experience on APDA, as I am coming from a school that prior to this year had 0 institutional success or resources. I had no successful varsity, no institutional casebooks, no knowledge on how to get better, and certainly no reputation to assist me. The last few years have been difficult to get the toe in the door in order to do well on APDA, as I often felt like going up against these venerated debate programs with massive resources and coaches was impossible. It is this experience that makes me want to be a member of the APDA board, because to be frank I would have quit the league if it wasn't for the kindness of people on the circuit who helped me succeed. APDA has been one of the most positive communities I've ever been a part of, and I would have no doubt have been worse off had I walked away. I want to extend the same kindness and inclusivity to as many people as possible, and I would make this my top priority if elected MAL.
APDA is a great community with a lot of assistance to newer debaters. Committees like expansion and novice mentors or practices like ride sharing are all wonderful initiatives, and should definitely continue. However they should also be expanded and made more public, and we as a league should be focusing more on reaching out to new debaters and expansion schools, rather than waiting for them to reach out to us. There is also the cultural aspect of APDA that could use some change, we all know about the little circle of debaters that forms in the front of the room talking about how many points they have. APDA is a league of people, not points, and as MAL I would not only be taking personal steps to be more inclusive to the people of APDA, but pushing everyone to be more open and friendly in GA. I think a more positive community would be good for both retention and the mental health of the league as a whole.
My time on TCNJ has been spent reforming the team for the better in numerous ways. With new recruiting and equity training our team has gone from having 0 female debaters to having several talented female novices. I've helped oversee discussions on inclusivity and equity, as well as spending large amounts of my personal time assisting our novices in writing cases and practicing, so they can have access to the institutions I lack. I also offer to do skype rounds with people from other schools who are unable to practice with their own team, and as MAL this is a practice I would continue. I have set up Novice Mentor hybrids for several of my novices in order to help them grow and develop, as well as just doing my best to be a good friend.As a member of the board I would be open to advice, suggestions, and criticism. I will listen to your concerns regardless of who you are and what school you come from. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you just want to talk I can be reached via Facebook or at my email: Tannene1@tcnj.edu.
My name is Pasha Temkin, and I'm a Rutgers sophomore running for Member at Large. This year, I've served as the Mid-Atlantic Coordinator on the Expansion Committee and as the President of the Rutgers University Debate Union. I care deeply about APDA, and I hope to give back to a community that has become my home.
This academic year, I have gone to an APDA tournament every single weekend, and I plan to do so for the rest of my APDA career. My dedication and commitment to APDA is what makes me the right choice as a Member at Large, because you can count on me to be at a tournament every single weekend. Moreover, this year I've had the pleasure of being on the Expansion Committee, helping new teams approach the league, and working with them to access reg breaks at tournaments, extract more funds from their administrations, and arrange hybrids with experienced members.
My experience as Expansion Coordinator and RUDU President has also been uniquely suited to understanding the difficulties of those who are financially barred from entering the league; despite having an active team, Rutgers has severely cut our budget, and as President I had to fight our administration to get funds, work with tournaments to manage reg swaps, and host an unopposed tournament on a shoestring budget. As Member at Large, I would work to further lower the financial barriers faced by teams in financial need.
This year, I have also worked to make Rutgers a safe space. Though we have historically had problems with female novice retention, I have worked with the team to create a less stressful, more casual atmosphere. On the league, I have also fought to allow those who do not feel safe to reaffiliate and come to Rutgers, and promise to do so further as Member at Large.
As a Member at Large, I hope to accomplish two specific things:
Firstly, I want to create a temporary committee to rewrite the APDA Bylaws over the next year. The issues we need to address are comprehension (removing obscure jargon, improving grammar and punctuation, resolving ambiguities, improving structure) and completeness (describing mechanisms for desanctioning and reaffiliation, clarifying eligibility). APDA has been around for over 30 years, and incorporated for 15; it is definitely time to update our governing document. This is important, because it would improve the ability of members to understand what the powers of the APDA board are (and are not), and would also clarify or codify the modern interpretations of the Bylaws by the APDA board, which have largely been based on precedent.
Second, I would work on making resources more accessible to novices and expansion schools. Currently, there are incredible guides available on the novice mentor website--unfortunately, not many people know about them. I want to make these resources more prominent on the website, advertise them on the forums, and display them at tournaments (especially novice/pro-am tournaments). Moreover, we should send these resources to all schools (most importantly expansion schools) at the beginning of each year, so that they have learning materials to distribute to their novice class.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, or at a tournament. Looking forward to the rest of the semester!