2002-2003 President’s Final Report: TJ (Tajesh) Adhihetty


Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate

General Meeting
Saturday March 15 and Sunday March 16, 2003
Dalhousie University

President, 2002-2003
Written Report
TJ (Tajesh) Adhihetty

Summary of Activities

1. Membership Lists and Updating Information – CUSID’s Online Filing Cabinet

This year we have attempted to collect the information which is required of full members (those in Schedule A) to become members in good standing. These requirements, as stipulated in section 17 of the Constitution, include the list of club executive members, their email addresses, and telephone numbers. This information is needed because:

1) it is a Constitutional condition of membership, but more importantly

2) the Executive need to be in contact with club executives,

3) emergencies (e.g. medical problems) do arise at tournaments and contact information must be readily available at any given location,

4) future club executives may need to get a hold of past executive members and such information is vital to that search.

There have been a number of cases where past club executives were needed for the resolution of a current issue. Sometimes clubs have remained dormant for years and are being resurrected, and in other cases old financial problems need to be rectified. All executive lists that have been provided to us are stored in the Executive forum of CUSIDnet. This forum is open only to Executive members so privacy concerns are mitigated, but access is now available wherever an internet connection exists.

The Executive forum serves as an excellent online filing cabinet for CUSID. Since we have Executive members spread throughout the country, such universal access is necessary. Furthermore, our organization depends on institutional memory. This new use of the Executive forum will be an excellent and necessary archive for future years.

2. To Be Bilingual or Not To Be

Based on the comments of individual debaters and input to the Mandate Committee, the question of whether CUSID should remain bilingual was raised in the first term. Arguments in favour of a unilingual organization included the poor job undertaken by CUSID thus far regarding French debating, the fact that resources could be better spent elsewhere and most international competitions are in English. It was also suggested that a separate national French debating organization would be more beneficial for the establishment and growth of that format.

At the November CUSID General Meeting, the membership voted in favour of the following resolution:

Be it resolved that the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate / Societe Universitaire Canadienne pour le Debat Intercolleigal remain a bilingual student organization.

The membership felt that if French debating was left on its own that it would not survive or at the very least would wither further away. As well, members cited the promotion of French public speaking at the Queen’s Chancellor’s Cup. It was argued that more could be done to promote French debating in CUSID.

3. Ombudsperson & Equity/Complaint Officers

Although the deadline for Ombudsperson applications was extended, no one applied for the position. I decided that the most prudent course of action would be to insure that all CUSID sanctioned tournaments had at least one Equity/Complaints Officer. Tournament directors were very cooperative in making sure the position was filed by qualified members of their club. Furthermore, invitational tournaments began establishing such positions. Credit must be given to Zara Lam, past Vice-President Central, for this initiative.

Future calls for applications should stress that the Ombudsperson must not only have experience dealing with official complaints management, but also have a vision for the position. It is a fledgling role in CUSID which needs greater promotion and clarification. The positions of the regional ombudspersons should be eliminated or such responsibilities could be incorporated into the duties of the regional Vice-Presidents. A number of senior debaters and Executive members have expressed their opinion that the regional ombudspersons are not necessary and were not utilized during their tenure in previous years. For investigative purposes, regional Vice-Presidents could assist the National Ombudsperson. If the regional Vice-President is under investigation, then the President of a CUSID member is the next alternative choice.

4. CUSID Surplus

The CUSID surplus has been an ongoing problem. This Executive entered our term without knowledge of the whereabouts of the bank account, the amount within the account, or the contact information for Sarah Mahoney, past CUSID Treasurer.

Sarah Mahoney has been tracked down with the assistance of Megan de Graaf of Dalhousie University. Sarah was the CUSID Treasurer in 1998/1999. Apparently the transfer of signing authority from her executive team to the next was not appropriately completed. As such, the account remained dormant in a Wolfville bank account. Sarah is currently residing in Toronto. She has been helpful in passing on old account information to Allan Ferriss, the current Treasurer. Unfortunately, the account itself is proving to be a problem. I have been informed that Mike Shore and Ranjan Agarwal (and Sarah) have signed the necessary documentation to close the account and issue a cheque in the name of CUSID. We were under the assumption that the “cheque was in the mail”, but it has not come through as of yet. As it stands, we are again working with Sarah to establish contact with the bank.

5. British Parliamentary vs. Canadian Parliamentary

A question was raised on CUSIDnet whether CUSID should switch to British Parliamentary-style (BP) debating, or at the very least whether first term tournaments should be BP to help prepare teams for the World Championships in December/January. After a lengthy CUSIDnet discussion, the Regional Vice-Presidents were instructed to consult with the schools within their respective region. The schools were asked to express their level of interest in switching over to BP for one trial year. Emphasis was given to schools hosting first term tournaments. The Executive appreciated that most schools did not want to commit future club executives to hosting a BP tournament, and therefore we only gauged a level of interest. This input was necessary if CUSID wanted to make a consolidated effort to adopt a new style. If a majority of schools desired the change, the Executive would have to consider such things as the scheduling of more training sessions (in BP) at first term tournaments and possible constitutional amendments.

The majority of comments provided to the Vice-Presidents were either in opposition to BP or were weak signs of support. A number of schools did not feel that BP would enhance debating in Canada. Smaller clubs (i.e. small number of debaters in the club) were worried that they would not have the adequate training to fully switch styles and that practice rounds would be difficult because of their small population. A couple of schools did express interest in switching over their first term tournament.

A consolidated switch to BP is not currently viable. Clubs interested in switching their tournament to BP have been encouraged to do so by individual debaters, but the CUSID membership has clearly indicated that they do not want to attempt a trial year at this time.

6. Mandate Committee

First, thank you to all the club executives that provided input to the Mandate Committee. Your comments provided great insight as to how people viewed CUSID and what it wanted to become. Second, thank you to the members of the Mandate Committee for their feedback. The members included the Executive as well as Megan de Graaf of Dalhousie University and Tamara Harder of the University of Saskatchewan.

The goal of the committee was to evaluate the purpose of CUSID. The organization has grown substantially from its constitutional roots of 1990. Issues such as equity and the creation of the ombudsperson have raised questions regarding the overall governance of CUSID. Should it become a governing body or should it remain a loose collection of clubs? Based on the input provided by CUSID members, the results of the committee are the proposed amendments to sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Constitution. The consensus amongst CUSID members was that the association should not become an over-arching governing body. It should be one where clubs maintain their autonomy, but come together to agree upon policy that would strengthen the level of competitive post-secondary debating in Canada. Therefore, a federation model of organization and governance was the most viable.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment

2. CUSID is a federation of Canadian post-secondary debating societies.

3. The purpose of CUSID is to:

a. promote a forum for post-secondary students to exchange ideas through debate and public speech,
b. establish standards in the areas of debate, public speech, individual and society conduct, tournament organization, judging, tournament eligibility, and other applicable topics,
c. provide collective resources to its members,
d. assist in the formation of post-secondary debating societies across Canada,
e. represent the interests of Canadian debaters internationally,
f. annually sanction: two National Championships, in both English and French, Regional Championships and Regional Novice Tournaments.

4. The purpose of CUSID is founded on the goodwill of each member and their shared commitment to fulfill this purpose.

7. Expansion

This year we were happy to welcome back the University of Manitoba as well as provide provisional membership status to Simon Fraser University and Tyndale College.

8. North American Championships (NorAms) Negotiations

The negotiations regarding the details of the tournament were difficult, especially regarding the fees. However a number of valuable lessons can be learned from this experience (see Recommendations).

Summary of Facts

The debate club at John Hopkins University (JHD) was made aware of the requirements of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on September 20th, 2002 via email. The MoU stipulates that the two national Presidents must approve a number of items including the fee. Information regarding the tournament fee was specifically requested and a link to the MoU on the CUSID website was provided in the September 20th email. It should be noted that a prior message was sent to JHD over the summer, but the MoU was not available in electronic format at that time. However, the question of the tournament fee was asked in that message. Unfortunately, email records only start as of September 20th. After the message of September 20th, eight other email messages were sent to various executive members at JHD and the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA). The fee ($250 USD per team) was communicated to us on December 5th, 2002.

Summary of Events

The negotiations regarding the fee and the budget were not successful. Due to the commencement of the winter examination period, JHD was not able to negotiate as effectively as was needed in this situation. Although a number of fee models were discussed between Greg Jennings (APDA President) and myself via emails and telephone conversations, none of them were adopted by JHD. To their credit, JHD did provide discounts for teams that opted to be billeted. This option was not in their original announcement, but was negotiated on a school by school basis. Greg and I attempted to ensure that all schools received equal and fair treatment. JHD also implemented a fee for judges after I raised concerns that judges were being hosted at the hotel for free. Furthermore, a number of concerns which were raised regarding their budget and unusual expenditures were not addressed by JHD. They had promised us a response to our concerns by January 12th, 2003. JHD was very accommodating in regards to tabulation regulations and debating guidelines. They were efficient in getting those sorted out.

From email and telephone conversations that I had regarding the outcome of the tournament, I would say that JHD ran a solid tournament. There were no outstanding problems with judging or tabulations. My thanks goes to Rory McKeown of Hart House (University of Toronto) who was the Deputy Chief Adjudicator for Canada. Furthermore, thank you to Greg Jennings and Kate Meyers (APDA Vice-President Operations) for their assistance, patience, fairness, and genuine commitment to their duties.

9. World Universities Debating Council (WUDC)

Selection of Worlds 2005 Host

The University of Zagreb in Croatia won the bid over Bristol University of England. Prior to the bid selection meeting, I spoke with both organizing committees via email and in person at the tournament. I voted for Bristol University because I had greater confidence in their judging pool, organizational abilities, and it would be less expensive to fly to Britain versus Croatia. Bristol also guaranteed that one Deputy Chief Adjudicator (DCA) would come from North America. Although having voted for Bristol, I am still confident in Croatia’s abilities to host Worlds. Their bid was impressive. During the question and answer period, Iva Kutle (ivakutle@yahoo.com), the bid organizer and expected Chief Adjudicator of Zagreb 2005, indicated that one of the DCAs would come from North America. Speaking to her after the meeting, she was receptive of having CUSID (along with the Americans) assist in the selection of that person.

Motion regarding 9th Round Resolution

In round 9 the resolution was: This House believes that Sharon should stand beside Milosevic. The Israeli delegation took great offence to this and brought forth a motion at the WUDC meeting requesting the organizers apologize for the resolution. They were upset for a number of reasons; comparison of the Israeli Prime Minister to a known war criminal and the treatment of Israeli debaters and judges during the round. The Israeli delegate informed us that the comments of certain Israeli judges were dismissed in their panels because they were told they were biased. Israeli teams also had to “suffer” through rounds where the actions of Sharon were compared to the Nazi genocide. After much heated debate, the WUDC passed a motion which indicated that the wording of the resolution was ill-chosen. It should be noted that the Israelis would have accepted a 9th round resolution which called for the indictment of Sharon before a war crimes tribunal.

Qualifications of Ravi Viswanathan, Chief Adjudicator for Singapore 2004

Questions were raised as to the qualifications of Ravi and whether he would be up to the challenge of being Chief Adjudicator (CA). The controversy arose after Amanda Kiemas, the original CA, had to resign due to employment commitments. Ravi and Namrata Verma, Convenor for Singagore 2004, adequately defended their choice to select a new CA from within their club as opposed to getting a well-known experienced debater.

Delays during the Tournament

Kevin Burden, Convenor of Stellenbosch 2004, provided a sincere and genuine apology for the extreme delays during the tournament. Round 6 on day two of the tournament had to be cancelled because of the delays. The alternative plan was to run rounds 6, 7, and 8 on day three, and then run round 9 on January 2nd. In the end, day three comprised all four remaining rounds. Kevin also accepted responsibility for choosing the method of pairings that had caused a great deal of problems.

Recommendations

1. Director of Development and Resources
creation of a new elected executive position to:

1)promote CUSID and concentrate on expanding post-secondary debating in Canada; it would be the responsibility of that individual to contact non-CUSID member schools and encourage the development of debating societies

2)maintain a resource bank of debating and public speaking guides for new and current clubs; debating guides do exist, but they have to be collected, sorted, and constantly updated; resources may also include guides on club governance, finances, fundraising, etc.

2. CUSID’s Online Filing Cabinet
-maintain the records and archive confidential information in the Executive Forum or another specific Online Executive Filing Cabinet
-produce hardcopies of all documents listed in the Filing Cabinet; that set of documents should be passed on through successive Executive Directors

3. Memorandum of Understanding between CUSID & APDA
-amend to specify the negotiation process; deadlines should be established for the host school to provide information to the two national Presidents
-method of pairings, pairing constraints, ranking of judges should be agreed upon earlier
-computer tabs program should be agreed upon; better yet, CUSID and APDA should explore the possibility of jointly sponsoring a tabulations program
-judges’ briefing should be mandatory and be conducted by both the CA and the DCA

4. Equity/Complaints Officers
-job description should be clarified and articulated; implementing a by-law encompassing their duties would be beneficial
-requiring a male and female equity officer at every CUSID sanctioned tournament; recommending that such positions be established at invitational tournaments

5. World Universities Debating Council
-negotiating with the organizers of Zagreb for a North American DCA; lobbying for that person to be a Canadian
-preparing a CUSID school for a 2006 or 2007 bid for Worlds

6. Constitution
-needs to be further updated; previous approved amendments were not adopted into the current online version;
constant updating of the Constitution was required over the past year as previous Executive members recalled motions that were passed in previous years (proof of such passage is always required or a confirmation vote must taken at a General Meeting)

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