Equity is Crucial
The purpose of equity is to create an accessible, safe, and enjoyable environment for all in our debate community.
A crucial first step is recognizing that we are all a part of a system that is biased. There are many barriers to entry and success for debaters based on their identities (i.e. race, language, gender expression, etc.). Documented experiences and statistical evidence have proven that there are biases within our circuit against historically marginalized communities.
To create change, we must be open to listening to the struggles that are faced by people in our community. The Ombudsteam is hoping to be a support in creating accessible resources for the community.
Through hearing about the issues within our community, an important next-step is changing the systems that have caused harm. There are many changes that we are looking to implement this year.
Changes We Are Making
We are making many large changes this year. Read more about this below. We’ll be updating this with more information.
In the 2020/21 year, we are pushing for major changes in tournament equity, in hopes that we can standardize the way equity is handled during tournaments.
- Increasing access to training resources for tournament Equity Officers. This allows us to have a centralized best-practice system in place.
- Enforcing Incident Reports and Exit Reports for tournament Equity Officers.
- Increasing communication between the Ombudsteam, institutional Equity officers, and tournament Equity Officers.
In the 2020/21 year, CUSID Ombuds is working alongside Natania Olusanya (CUSID Executive Director) to launch CUSID Committees. The purpose of these committees is to hear about barriers to access that members of our community have. These committees exist so that our members can (1) connect with people who have similar lived experiences to them, (2) put forward recommendations to the CUSID exec to make CUSID a safer space for them.
The 2020/21 Ombudsteam is focussed on making Equity training accessible to all members of CUSID. This means restructuring the website so that it is readable and useful to members of the community that are looking for Equity resources. We are also hoping to integrate proper training into Equity teams.
As well, our goal is to make educational resources relating to Equity accessible to the general public. Resources included will be used to:
- Explain why equity is necessary
- Consolidate mental health resources
- Support institutions in writing Equity Policy
- Transition institutions and their tournaments into an online setting.
Recently, there has been some discussion on how Equity should operate. Here is our stance:
Individual clubs should have Equity Policies. This is crucial, as all participating clubs need to uphold a standard of conduct that represents CUSID. Equity policies are extremely useful in establishing that inequitable actions (i.e. bullying and harassment), are not allowed by members of participating institutions, and allows for individuals to take recourse against members who violate Codes of Conduct.
It is the responsibility of our society to uphold the safety and security of its members. Debating is supposed to be a space where participants feel comfortable to express their views. If someone violates our Code of Conduct in any other space, members of CUSID may still feel uncomfortable in our space. Similar principles apply in universities, where actions that violate their codes of conduct (i.e. harassment and bullying) off campus will still result in action taken by the university.
Equity complaints should be allowed to be filed anonymously. There are two main situations where anonymous complaints may be beneficial. (1) Many anonymous equity complaints raise issues that do not require follow-up (i.e. an inequitable team name). There is no need to attach an individual’s name to these complaints. (2) Complainants often do not feel comfortable attaching their names to a complaint for many reasons (i.e. confidentiality, backlash, retraumatization). This does not mean they do not deserve follow-up action to be taken. Equity teams should follow-up and documenting these reports when possible.
A lot of data that has been collected by tournaments have become crucial to establishing why Equity is important (i.e. Is there really a gender problem in CUSID Central?). CUSID should be making more of an effort to track and document this information.
It is crucial that participants of a tournament are able to work with Equity Officers to create a space where people feel safe. We strongly believe that those who participate in debate should practice empathy even during competitions. This means that participants should be willing to learn from mistakes they have made, and should work towards not violating equity (i.e. respecting gender pronouns, etc.).
Debating is not supposed to be the Wild West for freedom of speech. It is widely known that CUSID is a rather undiverse space (read more in Equity Resources) because of the overt and covert discrimination that people face.
Debate is a unique space because people are not allowed to pick what they advocate for. This is why many motions that are highly triggering and emotion-filled (i.e. THW ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy) are discouraged. People should empathize with those who have lived other lived experiences, as they may never be able to see “both sides of the motion” for the sake of a debate round. This is not representative of their debating skills, but rather of their lived experiences.
Have any questions/ concerns/ suggestions for your Ombusteam? Have a complaint to file? You can contact your Ombudsteam through email or through the Google Form provided.
Jim Gavin, East Ombuds firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Coady, Central Ombuds email@example.com
Janita Basit, West Ombuds firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Xie, National Ombuds email@example.com
Submit the form directly on the website, or through the “Submit” button below.