[Ndca-l] NDCA and card-clipping

Jon Voss jvoss1223
Thu Dec 13 14:20:56 EST 2012


Seems like the NDCA could employ two new approaches here, each one
targeting a different "end" of the card-clipping / cross-reading problem.

1 - *Education.* Sue and Jane already discussed this a bit, but there
exists a very real chance that some young debaters / new coaches /
developing programs don't understand the difference between "selectively
highlighting a card" and clipping it.  Developing a lesson plan that
explains the difference would go a long way in resolving this issue,
especially if that lesson plan helped to break down the explanation of why
the practice in question is so destructive.  Most of the folks who will
read this email agree that clipping cards is reprehensible - but many of
the ears that we're targeting don't really "get it," and tautologically
insisting that "cheaters should lose" won't do much to fix that.  Axioms we
take as true, like "debate is founded on trust," or "clipping cards cuts at
the core of the activity" both presuppose that evidence (and the ways in
which it's represented) plays a major (maybe primary) role in what we do.
It does - but that needs to be clear to people who haven't been in the
trenches of the game for so long.

Education is also important for tournaments and their directors.  Many
(maybe most?) tournaments have no established operating procedure for
instances of ethical violations.  The NDCA should draft a document that
tournament directors can use *if they so choose*.  Obviously, it is beyond
the purview of the organization to create a set of mandates to discourage
card clipping...but the NDCA could establish norms that would likely incur
minimal resistance and serve as de-facto rules in most instances.
Tournament directors could opt not to use these rules and instead craft
their own - but these instances would almost certainly be minimal if the
NDCA's "don't cheat" document is decent.  It's not like this hasn't
happened before - a few years ago, the membership strongly believed that
"disclosure is good and more is better." While the NDCA was not able to *
mandate* disclosure, the creation of the Wiki and the Open Evidence Project
(both norms in the sense that no one *has* to use them but everyone is able
to) served to make the *end goal* a reality.

2. *Deterrence* - I fundamentally agree with Carver - there should be a
punishment larger than a loss for clipping cards.  Without more of a
deterrent, it's too easy to rationalize the act: "we're not going to beat
this team anyway, so why not try it?" I will fully admit that the
aforementioned example presents a pretty cynical view of high school
debaters - but it only takes one or two bad ones to ruin the trust of the
activity for everyone else.  The NDCA only has jurisdiction over its
tournament and its awards - but that may be enough.  If the concern is
simply that disqualifying a team from the Baker race on the decision of a
single judge risks that judge making a mistake, the NDCA could establish a
review committee.  Most clipping accusations include a recording, and if
the team accused thinks the judge makes a mistake, they could submit the
necessary materials to the NDCA for review. Obviously the individual
decision would stand, but they could "re-qualify for the baker" if the
review panel decided the judge made a mistake. This particular proposal
needs fine-tuning, but I'm not the logistics guru necessary to make that


On Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 12:27 PM, Scott Wheeler <scottwheels at mac.com> wrote:

> I think there's a bigger problem, which is that speech documents have
> replaced actual speeches as the way we communicate information in the round.
> I try to drill into the students' heads the importance of flowing (which
> includes flowing the warrants, or else your only means of comparison will
> be lining up tags about the same general idea, and hoping your arguments
> are dropped).  Then I get into a round and see one of my teams spend a
> minute of the 1NC on an advantage that wasn't in the 1AC because the other
> team didn't get to it.  The advantage wasn't extended in the 2AC (or
> mentioned again) and I'm scratching my head until my team tells me
> afterwards that the advantage was in the speech they were jumped.  The
> students thought that the other team had "cheated" in jumping them cards
> that they didn't get to, instead of the real lesson, that they themselves
> were terrible debaters for not listening.  After our talk, I think (hope)
> that has changed.
> But it's a tough battle these days.  If I'm judging and ask for a card
> after the round, debaters suggest others that I might find helpful.  I
> politely decline, but presumably others don't.  Some students have asked if
> I also want the speech document jumped to me before each speech, and tell
> me that some other judges want them.  In an LD round, a student brought me
> a pre-flow.  I handed it back, astounded, and asked if other judges had
> accepted it.  He said yes, that every other judge had appreciated it.
> Though telling opponents to mark cards at the appropriate point and
> telling them after each speech what was not read is good practice, it's
> only an ethical issue because we've been lazy in other areas.  There really
> shouldn't be any incentive to card-clip.  If a model lesson plan is the
> answer, it needs to go deeper than just pointing out these best practices.
>  We wouldn't need any sanctions if we had never strayed from the actual
> best practices--listening, flowing, and speaking.  Otherwise, in a couple
> years we'll just be "debating" over email.
> On Dec 13, 2012, at 8:24 AM, Joe Carver wrote:
> I am glad to see the board initiate this conversation Tara, as even my
> casual interactions with coaches over the past two years have indicated a
> significant increase in the alleged occurrences. I really only chime in to
> provide two points.
> First, the NDCA's greatest strength (and perhaps, itsweakness) has been
> the lack of "teeth" that any measures that it enacts can collectively have
> on the community as a whole. I think that to its credit, this has allowed
> the organization to serve a partners to programs instead of governors- and
> the activity benefits from that. For that reason, I think that you are
> correct to position yourselves to not " police" these activities.
> I do think however that the board has the ability to truly impact the
> decision calculus of teams and directors because the Baker Award and the
> NDCA tournament's profile and credibility have increased so dramatically. I
> would hope that you would act more definitively than suggested here should
> an allegation be proven. The Baker Award has come to represent high school
> debate, the NDCA and the activity as a whole. If a team has been proven to
> violate the most basic ethical principles of the activity, they should not
> be allowed to carry the activities mantle. They should be disqualified from
> the Baker Award entirely.
> I understand that the challenge is in defining what "proven" means in this
> context. You have far greater minds than mine to resolve that. I would just
> encourage all of you to really take into account what damage this practice
> does to the activity and it's credibility. Educators are charged to develop
> certain competencies in their charges- quality decision making, personal
> integrity and interpersonal cooperation among them. As a leader in the
> community, and the collective respect and credibility that the NDCA has, I
> believe that precluding a team that has cheated from claiming ownership
> over an award given named after a coach who would never have allowed such a
> thing to happen on his watch is the least that can be done.
> Either way, I am glad to see the NDCA Board continue to be on the
> forefront of these issues and wish you all well. Now I will crawl back into
> silence. :)
> On Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM, Tara Tate <ttate at glenbrook225.org>wrote:
>> Dear colleagues -
>> 3 - The NDCA has also discussed a sanctioning type of system that would
>> entail not awarding Baker Cup points or Dukes/Bailey Cup points to debaters
>> that are caught clipping cards at a tournament and is sanctioned by the
>> judge or a tournament official with a loss.  If your team is found "guilty"
>> of clipping cards in Round 5 at MBA and awarded a loss by the judge in that
>> debate due to that ethical violation, your team would not be able to
>> receive Baker points for that tournament.
>> It is widely believed by the Board that it is impossible and not the
>> responsibility of our organization to police these activities.  We do
>> believe we have control over our own tournament and our own awards but we
>> would like input on how the membership body would allow us to proceed.
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Jon Voss
Assistant Director of Debate
Glenbrook South HS
Chicago, IL
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