President 2005-2006 Final Report
As of March 2006, I am quite pleased with the state of CUSID and the achievements that our organization made this past year. I will outline the various measures and actions that I undertook in my capacity as CUSID President, and then suggest some recommendations that future Presidents may want to consider.
During the 2005-2006 year, I presided over the admission of seven new member clubs to CUSID. Exceptionally, four of those new clubs are in the West, and I find the growth of debating in that region to be particularly encouraging. Of course, CUSID also admitted an American debate club this year; the fine folks at the University of Alaska have joined our organization and shown themselves to be quite committed to debating in CUSID. The remaining three new members reside in Central, and I am quite proud of the fact that two of those clubs are Francophone institutions.
In the coming years, I hope that CUSID will witness more growth in the East as well. St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia considered applying for full membership this year; I hope that they will be prepared to join our organization in 2006-2007.
Jointly with the Executive Director and the Treasurer, I cleaned up and passed some new constitutional articles and by-laws surrounding the role of the CUSID Executive.
Firstly, all Executive Officers of CUSID are now constitutionally obliged to produce a formal written report at the end of their term. This applies to the President, Executive Director, Treasurer, all three regional Vice Presidents, and the Director of French Language Debates. The motivation behind these amendments came from the frustration that myself and other members of the Executive experienced in attempting to carry out our duties without much formal indication (beyond our constitutionally mandated roles) as to what we were meant to do or how things had been done in the past. Hopefully, the existence of annual formal reports will enhance CUSID’s institutional memory and ensure smoother transitions of power in the future.
Secondly, the â€œBalanced Budget and Account Rule By-lawâ€ was altered, such that the Treasurer is now required to produce an official statement of cash flows for the year. This statement must reconcile the CUSID bank account’s opening balance with it’s closing balance for the year, and must be accompanied by appropriate receipts. This measure is intended to promote greater transparency and accountability between the Executive and the membership, as well as between one year’s Executive and the next.
Thirdly, as of this meeting, both the President and the Treasurer will be constitutionally responsible for jointly reviewing and updating Schedule A at their term’s end. One of the biggest problems with maintaining an up-to-date membership list is that inactive members, who lose their full membership status for lack of adequate participation in CUSID, tend to go un-noticed. As a result, incorrect Schedule A membership lists are passed from one Executive to the next, and the problem compounds. Our hope is that by requiring a complete review and updating of Schedule A at the end of each Executive’s term, the list will be more accurate.
Finally, the Executive Director’s constitutional role was updated to more accurately reflect the duties of the position. While the Constitution used to deem the Executive Director responsible for â€œmaintaining the CUSID WWW site and CUSID-Net mailing list,â€ it now reads that he or she is responsible for â€œmaintaining the CUSID WWW site and CUSIDnet discussion forum.â€
I am particularly proud of the new training and fundraising materials that are now available to CUSID member clubs. This year, the Vice-Presidents and I created a CUSID open letter to be used by clubs for internal university support and external fundraising purposes. With one letter specific to each region, I’m happy to report that they are being used and I hope that they will help clubs garner more institutional and financial support. Ideally, these letters will be translated into French in the coming year. The English versions of the CUSID open letter are available here: http://www.cusid.ca/documents.php?cat=official
I also compiled a National Debate Guide that focuses on issues that pertain to the entire CUSID community. For example, it provides advice and expert opinion on British Parliamentary debating, North-Ams style, French debating, and the different regional styles of debating. It is my hope that this resource will prove useful to clubs across CUSID, and that it will continue to be built on in the coming years. The National Debate Guide is available here:
Finally, the Vice-President of the Central Region also produced an ambitious and extensive Central Debating Guide. I helped Dash with the editing and polishing up of this mammoth undertaking. Although the project was motivated by Central-specific concerns, it has proved a valuable training resource for clubs across CUSID. The Central Debate Guide is available here:
My role as CUSID representative to World’s Council this year was fairly procedural. UBC made a fantastic presentation about World’s 2007 and their status as the host school was unanimously ratified.
There was only one bid for 2008 Worlds, that of Assumption University in Thailand. The bid was also quite impressive, and CUSID should be happy to know that our own Joanna Nairn will be one of four DCA’s at that event.
Finally, the issue of whether World’s should include an English-as-a-Foreign-Language component, as well as the current English-as-a-Second-Language event, was discussed at length. Briefly, the distinction between the two categories lies in the amount of exposure an individual has to English in their daily lives. For example, someone who lives in Japan, does not regularly encounter English speakers, and attends a Japanese-language school would be classified as an English-as-a-Foreign-Language speaker, whereas someone who lives in the Netherland, attends school in English, and is exposed to English in their day-to-day lives would be classified as English-as-a-Second-Language. Due to the fact that next year’s host school (UBC) had absolutely no problem with including both an EFL and an ESL element to their tournament, I voted in favour of a motion of allow an EFL component at UBC World’s as a trial for coming years.
I had some contact with the APDA President and his Executive this year. Although we had planned a ‘Heads of State’ meeting between the CUSID and APDA Executive at the North American Championships, in order to discuss issues of concern to both of our organizations, this was canceled at the last minute, due to the fact that the ADPA President chose not to attend the tournament. I did meet with the remainder of the APDA Executive, however, who were all very friendly individuals and were unaware of any concerns that the APDA President had voiced to me at World’s Council.
With the North American Championships held in Canada this year, CUSID can be quite proud of the job that Hart House did and the quality of that event. Particularly, in light of the number of APDA teams who did well at that tournament and the hard work of our Canadian Chief Adjudicator to achieve consensus on tough issues, the perception that CUSID North-Ams are biased against American teams has largely been mitigated this year.
As North-Ams will be held in APDA next year, it’s important that next year’s CUSID President and Executive appoint a Canadian DCA as soon as possible, so that the chosen individual can begin liasing with their ADPA counterpart right away. This is important to ensure that common ground can be found on issues of contention between our two organizations, in terms of the MOU, and to make sure that next year’s North-Ams are as CUSID-friendly as possible.
High School Debate
Relations between CUSID and Canadian high school debating have improved this year, notably because of the creation of a high school tournament schedule on CUSIDnet. Numerous high school coaches have told me that this has made their lives much easier and that it has informed them of tournaments they were not previously aware of. I would recommend that future Executives maintain an online schedule of high school tournaments being hosted by CUSID schools, so that all member schools enjoy more publicity and higher attendance at their events.
Furthermore, I did a great deal of informal liaising with high school debate coaches across the country this year. While this is due mostly to the fact that I have personal relationships with many of those individuals, I would recommend that insofar as it is possible for future Presidents, they ought to maintain a rapport with high school coaches. At the very least, it makes for good CUSID-high school relations, and at the very best, it ensures higher turnout at our high school events.
Beyond the few recommendations I have made in the above paragraphs, I would also suggest that the transfer of signing authority on the CUSID bank account from the outgoing President and Treasurer to the incoming President and Treasurer occur as soon as possible. This year, we had a great deal of difficulty getting signing authority on the account, and due to various problems at both of our banks, the issue took the entire year to resolve. Part of the problem is that the Treasurer and President often do not live in the same city, and thus, they have to do paperwork through different banks. This issue is unfortunate, but I do not see any way around it. What can be avoided, however, is an outgoing President or Treasurer failing to sign off on the account, so I would recommend that this transfer be done as soon as possible, perhaps at Nationals if all relevant individuals are present.
In terms of by-laws, there were numerous by-laws passed in CUSID’s recent history that are not up on CUSIDnet. While I attempted to track down these by-laws, there doesn’t seem to be any written copy of them. My recommendation here is an obvious one: when your Executive passes a constitutional amendment or by-law, be sure that your Executive Director makes the relevant changes to the documents on CUSIDnet. Firstly, this ensures that the membership at large is made aware of the changes and has access to the most up-to-date copy of documents, but secondly, it also ensures that these changes are not lost in the mists of time.
Finally, I think that CUSID is in very good shape. Our enormous successes at international events is a testament to that, as is our relative progressiveness on equity issues vis Ã vis the rest of the debate world. Of course, there are always areas for improvement: addressing the persistent, although much improved, gender disparity in debating, and aiding smaller schools in their ability to run tournaments are just two examples.
I think the biggest challenge in the coming years will be to ensure that we remain a strong organization; I think this is best addressed by a highly responsive Executive that listens to the concerns of its members, makes an effort to help those clubs who ask for it, and seeks to achieve a balance between different views. This is the approach that I have tried to pursue this year and I think it is a winning formula for CUSID.