Debaters United v. SCU
NOTE: The following opinion piece represents the views and opinions of its authors and does not represent the views of Point of Information or its staff or any specific school or organization.
The Dempsey-Cronin Invitational is known for being a historically lay tournament. We’re fine with that. We’re fine with a lay tournament, and we expect lay judges. We, however, do not expect a tabroom that is utterly unsympathetic. In addition to numerous mistakes, from running late to not hearing out legitimate complaints, Tab was rude and uncalled for in their handling of many situations throughout the tournament, as many can attest to.
“A judge who barely spoke English judged my second round. It’s fine that she didn’t speak much English; that’s unfortunately common-place. However, she asked if her daughter could spectate the round after my partner’s 1AC. It’s fine that there are spectators; debate is more fun with people watching. Our judge, however, allowed the high school freshman to partake in the actual JUDGING of the round. When the opposing team called a Point of Order, HER DAUGHTER was the one who said, “I’ll take it”.
So, my partner and I went to Tab to address the problem. Tab, however, refused to let me give the complaint, so I had my coach talk to Tab for me. Tab didn’t care. It was just a small round and didn’t matter much. Did it matter, to me? Yes. I dropped a round because of that. At a tournament that is apparently incapable of breaking more than a few 4-2s, that’s a pretty tough blow. During round six, ironically, a team from a different school was able to complain and get a judge change, because after calling a Point of Order, the two judges gave a passing remark to each other. Tab hurriedly sent a messenger, and, when asked, said, “This is a really bad thing to happen”. When I asked, there was no one who attempted to change the judging issue.”
“My parents have been judging my debate tournaments for 3 years and they’ve seen everything a Tabroom can throw at them. Nonetheless, they had an experience during SCU which made even them question SCU. Round 1 they judged a team, let’s call them Team A and dropped them. When I say ‘they’ I mean my mom was judging the round and my dad was just watching the debate because he enjoys it. Round 2 they had to judge the same Team A for Flight A; the other team for Flight A, let’s call them Team B, arrived to the room promptly.
After 20 minutes passed without the arrival of Team A, Team B asked for a bye and my parents contacted Tabroom, who asked them to wait for another 20 minutes. After 40 minutes had passed with my parents and Team B waiting in front of the room, Team A arrived and, upon seeing that they had my parents as judges again, stormed out of the room. Of course debaters are aware that they can’t be judged by the same judge twice in a tournament, but it should be noted that my parents didn’t know of this rule. They, and Team B, were simply bewildered because Team A had entered and left the room without saying anything.
They called Tabroom, who again told them to wait. About twenty minutes later, a man from Tab who claimed he was the Tournament Director entered the room and took the ballot from my parent’s hands, yelling at them and cussing them out before leaving. My parents and Team B were still there, bewildered and unaware that Team A had requested and successfully gotten a judge change to another room because the person from Tab literally hadn’t told them anything. Twenty minutes later, Tab dropped Team B. My parents were furious; throughout the entire hour-long ordeal the only people who had told them anything were Team B, who had now been unfairly dropped because of Tab’s failure to inform either my parents or Team B of a room/judge change even after the same Tab had allowed Team A to be 40 minutes late.”
“Octafinals at SCU were shady, to say the least. Because of a judge error, the flight B topics were leaked to some teams, and larger teams were able to prep this. I, like many others, was enticed by the possibility of an easy win and the “others must be doing it too” mindset and at first started prepping, to help the other teams in octas. Fortunately, others showed how it was horribly wrong to do that, especially for small teams without access to this unfair benefit. Therefore, a group of debaters and I took it upon ourselves to notify Tab; however, what followed was more than uncalled for and irresponsible.
Tabroom at the SCU Dempsey-Cronin Invitational was not run with the caliber that is expected of a group of highly esteemed debate names in charge of a tournament at this or any scale. When we walked in to report the judge error, the response was, “Then why aren’t you prepping?” I continued to explain that parli debaters are only supposed to have 20 minutes of prep, but flight B debaters from select schools now had 4 times the amount of prep time.
Smaller schools that only had a few debaters break, or schools where all competitors were assigned to Flight B, had no one to inform them of the topics. Because of the disparity in prep time, we requested that Tab print new topics or announce the Flight B resolutions immediately to at least attempt to rectify the situation. Most people in the room laughed, and we were asked what school we were from. When someone responded with ‘-------’, the laughter grew louder and they asked us- “So why are you here?----------’s one of the biggest schools!”
We weren’t complaining for the kids at our school, who were privileged to have experienced coaches and a large, supportive team. We were reporting for the kids at smaller schools, and we were laughed out. Not only that, but the fact that a situation like this could occur, and then be regarded as fair by the people who were supposed to be respected names in debate is completely preposterous.”
Let’s not use net benefits analysis to evaluate the situation. Sure, the topic was changed, but was the manner in which Tab acted justified?
To solve this problem, confront Tab about their actions. SCU’s tournament seems to revel in the fact that so many people attend their tournament--- and, therefore, that they can do as they please. However, if they have so many attendants, it’s only logical that they need to be able to address those attendants’ issues with civility. The way with which they responded to the issue was unbelievably ridiculous, with people laughing, mocking, and even cursing rudely. The crux of parliamentary debate rests on education and friendly, fair competition. However, SCU’s tournament has refused to uphold its duty to the debaters, and to maintain parity between the competitors. This is not debate.
If you wish, feel free to disagree. Productive discourse is necessary to proper decision-making. Let’s not alienate or ignore someone or something that disagrees with us.