Candidate statements for the 2012-2013 elections are below. You can scroll down to see them, or use the following links to jump to particular statements:
- Vice President of Operations
- Vice President of Finance
- Member at Large
My name is Russell Leibowitz and I'm a junior at Brandeis. For the past two years I've served APDA as a Novice Mentor working to help novices feel at home on the circuit and facilitating their development. In addition to working to make the league as a whole better, I've also had success leading an individual team. During my time running the Brandeis team, I helped grow it from 5-10 members to nearly 40 today, an accomplishment that has taught me a lot about how to help schools grow. These experiences give me a unique perspective on the challenges schools across APDA face. I'm running for APDA President to use those experiences to bring fresh insight to APDA Board and to give back to a league I care so much about.
If there's one reason to vote for me, it's that I'm going to work for everyone, regardless of their region or the size of their school. In order to do that, I plan to put the experience I have gained both on and off APDA to work. As a staffer on a number of political campaigns, I have created large-scale programs that had concrete impacts such as a campaign-wide intern recruitment, training and retaining program. I've learned how to deal with the ins and outs of organization running from founding and growing a chess club to nearly 1,200 active members in over a dozen school districts. Additionally, on APDA, during my time as a Novice Mentor, I've worked hard for growing schools across APDA and learned a lot about the unique challenges they face and how to solve them.
I think that APDA often overlooks those who are more hesitant about speaking up at APDA meetings, which is why I've spent the past couple of months trying to contact a variety of schools to hear their opinions on what they think can be done to improve the circuit, something I want to continue doing if elected. It's important that we not forget that there is a large block of schools that are small and are struggling to find ways to grow. I think APDA should do more to actively reach out to schools, even those that are established, to make sure they have the institutional knowledge they need and to supplement what they lack. It is often difficult or intimidating to reach out to dinos on the circuit (even the most accessible ones like Storey and Jake) and having resources like dino-judged calibration rounds and new guides on how to recruit and retain novices available can help schools grow by enabling them to throw better tournaments and build bigger teams. In order to facilitate this, I support creating a new position to be in charge of actively reaching out to schools and acting as a liaison to the people who they need support from. The person would act as APDA's "Tournament Coordinator" and would be a resource for those teams that would like additional input, but whose help they could of course choose to decline. We should supplement these ideas with a continued conversation on ways to lower the costs APDA teams face in addition to working on ways to raise additional revenue.
I also believe that it's important that we work as a circuit to address equity issues. Right now, the league has a huge gender gap, and that is something I've always been concerned about. I've done all of my Novice Mentor hybrids with female debaters and at Brandeis I've played a role in building a team that is mostly female. I think APDA Board should work to learn from teams that have been successful at retaining female debaters in order to figure out how to minimize the novice otherization that leads to some of the gender imbalance problems and then inform teams of how they can improve their environments. In addition, in order to fix the problems we face as a league, we need to work to become more aware of how they actually manifest themselves. It is often difficult to confront sexism personally and it shouldn't be a burden to have to do that. We should set up an anonymous forum (or email address), like the one that is now being used successfully in England, to enable people to come forward when they face discrimination based on their gender. We can then as a league use that information to create more cohesive solutions such as judge trainings that point out the ways subtle biases manifest themselves and how to minimize them.
I think that APDA, despite its flaws, is a great place. I'm excited for the opportunity to put the leadership skills I've accrued towards making APDA a place where more people can feel at home. If you have any questions for me, feel free to send me a message any time.
My name is Josh Zoffer and I am running for APDA President. Over the past two years, I've served as APDA's Vice President for Finance and Head Novice Mentor, as well as President of the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society. These past two years have been a tremendous learning experience for me in terms how the league works, what needs to change, and how the President and Board can play a role in that process. As someone who debates every weekend and already spends enormous amounts of time on league governance, APDA is incredibly important to me. I would be honored to serve as President next year and to have the opportunity work with the Board and the league to make APDA the best that it can be.
APDA's President serves a number of roles: the President must be an accessible resource, a role model for the league, and a leader of league reform and policymaking. These functions are all crucial to a successful presidency and ones that I believe I am well equipped to perform. However, after speaking with a past APDA Presidents, I have learned that the President's role is above all about responsibility. It is about managing a league of over 60 teams with diverse needs, coordinating between schools located hundreds or thousands of miles apart, and getting APDA's business done. In fact, these responsibilities are what separate the President from every other member of APDA's governance structure, be it other Board members or members of APDA's various committees. APDA governance is structured so that it works best when the President makes everyone else's responsibilities clear and ensures that everyone follows through. As President, I promise to work with everyone else at the league level to make sure APDA is the best that it can be and that everyone benefits as much as possible from APDA's resources.
My track record from the past two years demonstrates my commitment to league-wide reform and to coordinating and following through on APDA's most pressing issues. As Head Novice Mentor my sophomore year, for example, I revitalized a program that had fallen into obscurity. I coordinated novice hybrids for the first time in the program's recent memory, organized more demo rounds than in the history of the program, and added a series of four lectures and three workshops to facilitate novice education and integration into the league. Not only does this demonstrate my ability to follow through on my responsibilities, but it also shows my commitment and ability to work on the league level to make APDA's resources as accessible and beneficial as possible.
Similarly, as VP Finance this year, I attempted to combine an individualized approach with league-wide efforts. After Harvard's best fundraising year in team history under my presidency, I wrote a guide to team fundraising to share our success with the rest of APDA. I then used this guide to work with over 10 different teams this year to help resolve their funding issues. I worked through their budgets, helped them write grant proposals, and helped them find ways to cut costs. In addition, I went above and beyond my duties as VP Finance to coordinate and lead the Board's efforts to rewrite the APDA Bylaws. This had been a goal for the Board for the last several years but one that proved difficult to organize and complete. I took it upon myself to make the first few rounds of edits and then worked with Coulter to set up a committee to finish the job. All of this is meant to demonstrate my willingness to take on responsibility and tackle difficult problems, as well as my consistent track record of achievement for the league.
In addition to these duties, I have also taken a careful and fair-minded approach to even the Board's more mundane tasks. I wrote the tab observer policy, wrote the annual financial report, filed with the IRS, and maintained a fair and open mind on all sensitive issues like TO appointment and scheduling. Having done so in the past, I promise to continue to do so next year.
Although I believe my experience qualifies me to serve as APDA President and meet the role's many responsibilities, I want to do more. Over the past year, I have spent time speaking with many members of the league about their problems and thinking of ways to solve them. I have begun work on many of these projects, but there are still many steps that need to be taken. As President, I would have the resources and platform I need to implement these changes and improve the league in a number of areas.
As has been discussed throughout the year, equity on APDA (especially as it relates to gender) is a huge problem. Persistent disparities in results and occasionally outright disrespectful behavior are problems we need to confront. This year, after attending every Women's Initiative meeting held at tournaments I attended, I took on the additional responsibility of serving as WI's liaison to the board. I have spoken on at least a bi-weekly basis with the head of WI to coordinate meetings and discuss new proposals. Going forward, I plan to expand my commitment to equity in two ways.
First, I would like to make Women's Initiative into a formal committee like the Novice Mentor's, EOFs, and Expansion Coordinators. I believe this would give WI more institutional resources and legitimacy and a greater platform from which to address the league. I envision this committee:
- Holding workshops to deal with gender equity issues, such as judge trainings to help root out latent sexism in judging paradigms
- Bringing in prominent female APDA alumni to speak on these issues and educate the league
- Hosting a women's tournament or a female novice ProAm tournament to facilitate equitable debate
Second, I would like to film gender equitable calibration rounds to be distributed to the entire league for judge calibration. One possible explanation for results disparities is that judges calibrated with male-only rounds develop a subconscious bias. This could be rectified, at least in part, by filming a league-wide calibration round with at least two female dinos and distributing it to tournaments. This would also have the added benefit of improving judge consistency, another reason to pursue the idea. I have already begun coordinating with WI and dinos to make this happen, and will continue to do so as President.
In many ways, this issue is directly linked to others, most notably expansion. Although many older programs also have financial issues, the monetary barriers to participation are one of the biggest obstacles to league expansion. As President, I would write a guide to reg breaks (along with Ashley Novak, who has helped pursue this idea) to make it easier for teams without resources to negotiate appropriate reg breaks. Many programs, both new and "middle-aged" often don't know how much to ask for, and some tournaments don't know what to give, creating an unnecessary barrier to debate. A guide would help solve these problems and make it easier for newer and smaller teams to participate on a more consistent basis.
In addition, I would reach out to major companies to sponsor APDA directly. I have experience doing this on behalf of other organizations (most notably HSPDS), and would put this experience to work for APDA. Getting league sponsors generally, or even for specific events like Nationals, would improve our ability to fund judge travel and improve tournament quality. At an extreme level of success, it could even enable APDA to help out expansion schools or fund better league events for novices or other important groups.
I have two primary plans to improve APDA's expansion program. First, I would expand the expansion program to account for two specific types of teams. As always, there are shrinking teams on APDA who have become less active and are at risk of leaving the league. In addition, though, there are former members who have recently rejoined the league after revamping their programs. I believe that these types of teams are unique cases that deserve dedicated Expansion Coordinators. Teams in these situations often have formerly active members, institutional memory, and other resources that make them ideal targets for Expansion Coordinators and excellent sources of information. This effort would also be combined with the new application process I implemented this year to collect information on new teams applying to join APDA. With more information and more targeted ECs, I believe we can expand the league at a faster rate and retain more of our current members.
Second, I would appoint regional liaison schools to coordinate membership and expansion initiatives in high growth areas. APDA has already seen rapid growth in places like Providence, RI and is poised for quick expansion in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia. Appointing a liaison school to reach out to new schools, coordinate inter-team practices, and serve as a resource would smooth this process and improve our expansion efforts.
Novice retention is intimately linked with many of these issues, especially equity and expansion. Specifically, however, I would do two things to improve our novice retention and education programs. First, I would add a real library of online resources to the novice website. As Harvard's head of novice training next year and the former director of a nationally recognized debate camp, I will be creating an entirely new set of training materials including lecture slides, videos, drill guides, and round summaries. I am planning on making all of these materials public for APDA, and the fact that I'm responsible for doing this for HSPDS creates a great commitment mechanism to make sure it happens.
Second, I would like to reinstitute the novice workshops and clinics held last year. A big problem in terms of novice training and retention is that novices feel isolated and never get to interact with varsity, especially those at the top level. These clinics would be designed to facilitate that sort of interaction and make novices feel welcome and included. Novices present a unique case for APDA resource allocation because they are both APDA's largest class and the class with the highest attrition rate. To me, this signals that they are a great place to focus our resources. As President, I will personally make sure that these types of programs happen and that novices are given the attention they deserve.
In conclusion, I believe I have a track record of commitment and achievement that demonstrates my ability to get things done and serve the league effectively. This experience is complemented by a set of new and innovative proposals that I believe will help APDA take steps toward solving some of our largest problems. I would be grateful for the opportunity to serve as APDA President and take on these challenging projects. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions please feel free to reach out via email.
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Vice President of Operations
I'm running for VP Operations because I believe it's the best way I can be helpful to APDA. This position would allow me to be involved in the week to week running of APDA, which is something that I'd actually like to do. One of the things that has frustrated me with Member at Large is how little it has to do with the day to day logistics of APDA. My experience on the Rutgers executive board was focused not only on larger issues like novice retention and gender equity on our team, but I have also been primarily responsible for the logistics of the team for the past two years. I think that I have a track record of doing well with that, and also genuinely enjoy it. Also, because the VP Operations job deals with these sort of logistical issues, I think it's beneficial to have a VP Ops who has been on the board before and is familiar with the responsibilities of the job.
Beyond the specific responsibilities of VP Ops, I think I have a lot to add as a board member. There are a lot of projects that we have started this year that I want to continue. Josh and I have recently started working on a way to help systematize registration breaks to help schools, and I'd like to work with the board to develop this and hopefully start using it next year. I want to be on the board to help do projects like this to help expansion schools be more able to compete sustainably. Because Rutgers works with a lot of expansion schools, I have exposure a lot of schools when they join the circuit who don't necessarily reach out to the EC's or to the board as a whole, and I think the context of these schools makes me a more effective board member. I'm also working with Jake, Storey, Josh, and Women's Initiative to try and organize a gender equitable calibration round, and would like to continue doing projects next year to help improve equity on the league.
I think it's also important to appoint board members based on regional diversity. I think I am a good candidate for this because I compete in both the north and the south, I have friends in both regions, I know expansion schools in both the north and the south. I think this means that I can be unbiased regionally and can be trusted to help push for regional balance in scheduling. I think this also means that I can help ensure regional balance in the appointment of EOFs, Novice Mentors, and Expansion Coordinators. In addition, because I know both the northern and the southern candidates, I can do actually comparisons instead of just relying on other people's sense of how good a candidate they would make. Beyond north and south, I'm also on good terms with everyone currently running for the board, and I think that regardless of the board around me, I'd be able to work effectively with everyone.
I've really enjoyed working with the board this year. I think they're all phenomenal people, and they've all done a great job and put in a ton of effort on new initiatives and projects (except maybe Mark <3). I'm running for VP Ops because I really want to continue the projects that we've worked on, to continue helping to improve APDA, and to maintain the high bar of competence this board has set this year.
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Vice President of Finance
My name is David Israel, and I am a sophomore at Johns Hopkins running to be APDA's Vice President for Finance. I am currently serving APDA as a Novice Mentor, and my own team as Tournament Director. Combined with my proven dedication to league, I believe I am well qualified to succeed as the next VP Finance.
As Tournament Director for the Hopkins team I have demonstrated my ability to handle administrative tasks, which form an essential part of the VP Finance's role on the Executive Board. My official role was to organize this year's Hopkins tournament, where I personally handled booking hotel rooms, ordering trophies, registration, and running the tournament itself. Since our tournament is the first week of the season, I technically did not have any administrative duties after it finished. In light of this, I voluntarily took on most of the day to day tasks of running the Hopkins team, including securing transportation, tournament registration and payment, and organizing and attending daily practices. Finally, I have worked this year to repair our team's relationship with the school administration. This involved relatively mundane, but crucial, tasks such as making sure paperwork was filled out correctly and on time, keeping in regular contact with various administrative officials, and overall demonstrating fiscal and personal responsibility to the school.
My success in working with our administration and expanding our funding gives me a unique experience I will be able to use to personally help expansion schools facing similar problems. Additionally, I have previously worked at a student run consulting agency writing successful multiple business proposals and grants. This will allow me to apply for grants and further improve APDA's financial transparency, in line with what previous VP Finance's have done.
While administrative duties are important, the VP Finance also has broader responsibilities as a member of the board in setting goals for the APDA community. Working as a novice mentor, I organized demonstration rounds at Hopkins, Columbia, and Swat Novice, set up a novice clinic at Swat Novice, ran the Women's Initiative Forum on Mentoring at AU Proams, and attended most of the Women's Initiative meetings this year. These programs, especially the demo rounds and clinic, undoubtedly helped novice retention and training, but there is still a lot more that the board and we as a community can do. First, board members have to set clear norms to treat novices well and combat equity issues such as sexism. Unlike most other candidates for any position this year, I come from a school which previously had issues with novice retention and gender equity. The progress Hopkins has made this year in both areas is clear evidence that I am capable of dealing with these issues head on. However, there are other schools on APDA which face similar problems but don't have a board that is dedicated to making progress. As a member of the board next year, I would work both to expand the role of EOFs to deal with intra-team issues, an idea which has been discussed at Women's Initiative meetings, and use my own experience with the Hopkins' team to aid other schools making similar transitions.
Finally, the VP Finance, like the rest of the board, must be able to work with all schools to improve the entirety of the APDA community. Coming from a centrally located school such as Hopkins has allowed me to debate across the north and the south, and I hope to be able to represent the views and interests of all schools in a fair and unbiased fashion as a member of the Executive Board next year.
Thanks for your time, and please contact me if you have any questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 860-483-0217.
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Member at Large
I'm Alex Alifimoff and I am running for Member-At-Large in the 2013 APDA Elections.
The Member-At-Large position is one of the interesting and capable positions on the APDA Board because it has no explicitly defined role and doesn't have a very long list of enumerated responsibilities. To me, this allows MALs to potentially tackle very important problems on APDA that other board members are not as capable of addressing because of their other responsibilities. As Member-At-Large, I would concentrate heavily on:
Expansion. I have a vision of APDA as a nationwide league. APDA is more accessible than any other kind of collegiate debate. But it surprises me that APDA has effectively isolated itself to the east coast. As MAL, I'd like to concentrate on building critical mass in potential expansions hubs - areas like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Schools are willing to compete when they can go to 3-4 local tournaments within an hour or two of their campus. Reaching out to schools and helping to pair them with expansion coordinator mentors who focus solely on their school makes schools feel wanted on APDA and more willing to host tournaments in their region.
Novice Retention. I see novice retention as the natural second step to expansion. Ensuring that novices can see the value of debating on APDA, while also finding a fulfilling social experience is key in my mind to improving novice retention. This means ensuring that novice mentors focus on not only debating with novices, but also facilitating fun by introducing novices to one another and hosting novice social events that focus on meeting others, not on debate.
Novice Education. One of my main achievements as a novice mentor was setting up and beginning to populate the new novice website, novices.apdaweb.org. As MAL, I hope to work closely with next year's novice mentors to increase the use of this very powerful tool to highlight good debate rounds by showcasing recordings and encouraging and requiring next year's novice mentors to write more articles about how to debate. This will help to not only improve institutional memory by cataloging debate styles over the years, but provide a very accessible tool for eager novices to learn about APDA on their own, not just next year, but for years to come.
Web Presence. APDA has only begun to use the internet and all the wonderful tools it has to offer to its fullest potential. In my time as webmaster, I've helped to expand that presence by refining some of the old code on the APDA site (to improve speed and reliability), while building videos.apdaweb.org and novices.apdaweb.org. I believe both of these sites have not only the potential to expand APDA's visibility (which helps expansion as well as increases the likelihood of sponsorship), but also generates potential revenue streams for the APDA board.
Expanding existing committees. APDA's greatest strength is that it is filled with some of the brightest minds in the country. I believe that we should play to this strength. The Women's Initiative should be formalized, and the Expansion Coordinators and Novice Mentors should certainly be expanded. Specifically, I hope to work with the heads of these committees to set up specific goals for the quarter and then plan on checking with the heads of the committees prior to each APDA meeting to plan a report to the full body about what each committee has accomplished. APDA's greatest weakness is that our highly intelligent, motivated body often loses sight of accomplishing the goals that it sets out to accomplish. I believe goal setting and occasional oversight can help to correct this problem.
I believe that as a MAL from Stanford, I have a unique capacity to represent small schools and distant schools in a way that most other candidates cannot. But, I'm also extremely active on APDA and will continue to be in the future, so I have a good understanding of the interests of schools from both APDA South and North.
The board did not receive a candidacy statement.
My name is Taylor Blackburn, and I'm running for Member at Large. I am currently Director of Novice Affairs on the Bates Brooks Quimby Debate Council, and a sophomore at Bates college. APDA is a central part of my life, and I want to serve on the board so that I may invest my own skills and time wholeheartedly into its continuation, improvement, and growth.
First and foremost, I think a MAL should be fair minded, engaged, and thoughtful. These are traits that transcend campaign promises, and inform the decisions MALs will make regularly as members of the board. These may be traits that are difficult to prove in a candidate statement, but I hope my time on APDA serves as supporting evidence. I believe decisions should be made based on what is best for the league-- not individual preference, or what is best for one team, or any other metric. Where there is legitimate debate about just what is right for the league, I always believe in hearing all sides and finding the best resolution. I'm an engaged member of league, present not only at virtually every weekend, but also APDA Meetings, Women's Initiative, demo rounds and the like. I socialize with a huge diversity of people, regardless of region, affiliation, novice status, or -OTY standing. An MAL needs to understand the issues of the league and the people of the league, and I'm proud to say I go to great lengths to ensure both of those things are true for me. I'm confident I'd be a board member anyone could approach, contact, and work with.
I want to continue and improve the great work the board already does, as well as expand into new areas. The Novice Mentor program should be revitalized, so that the burden of managing hundreds of novice debaters around the country does not fall solely upon the shoulders of the few appointed members. While the pro-am requirement is a clear good to the league, I'd like to see a program developed that allows more widespread mentorship within the circuit, facilitated by these dedicated individuals. My time as Bates' director of Novice Affairs also gives me unique insight into the difficulties faced on this issue.
I want to see expansion succeed, and will personally work with new schools so that they may enter the APDA community. Even as a novice, I attended things like the UChicago expansion meeting, so that I would understand the challenges and obstacles these teams face. Just as important as incorporating new schools however, is fostering existing members who might not yet have strong programs. This year, I organized a group practice and workshop day with nearby Bowdoin, with another one in the works for this spring. While we are a competitive activity, it is important to remember we can share our skills and resources to make the league a more inclusive, accessible place for all students.
Finally, I'm proud to have been a part of some of the wonderful things Women's Initiative has done this year. I am a regular fixture meetings, and would like to see this cause have even more of a presence on the circuit. I love APDA, but like many of you, am concerned with the sexism, racism, and classism that too often reveals itself in and out of rounds. I'd love to see WI recognized in a more formal way, and efforts like the pro-am hybrid program made to flourish. I participated in such a hybrid myself this year, because I think simple commitments from members of the league can lead to phenomenal systematic changes.
Furthermore, I'd like to see institutional memory become a more central part of APDA. I'd like to take on a project of better connecting our circuit in perpetuity. Rounds shouldn't disappear off the web, our greatest stories shouldn't be forgotten, and our alumni shouldn't disappear the moment they graduate or stop coming back as dinos. We live in a time where connection and communication are simpler than ever, and we ought to be taking advantage of that.
Thank you for your consideration, and I hope I can serve you all in this coming year.
My name is Madi Castillo and I am running for Member at Large of APDA. This year I am a junior at Brown University, and was recently elected the Vice President of Operations of the Brown Debating Union.
Board members must be willing to forgo personal success for the benefit to the league, and I am willing to do so. The Brown Debating Union is a pretty apolitical organization. We do not have COTY ambitions, and I do not plan on making any sort of -OTY run next year (it's not really a part of our team's culture, or my personal debate philosophy). I do plan on focusing on my duties as a board member versus individual competitive success. This makes me an impartial board member towards schools that do have these ambitions, and schools from other regions.
I want to explain my motivations for running, because I think they set me apart. I debate because it is fun to be competitive, however I also debate because I have learned a lot from debate, and want others to get as much out of it as I have. I think APDA is great, but it still has the potential to improve. There are serious issues that we need to confront as a league to ensure an improved experience for all debaters. Despite never having held an official position on the board or a committee, I have been investigating these issues and working towards that goal.
My primary focus has been on improving the perception of women as debaters and improving female novices experiences with league culture. Gender equity is an issue that has been mentioned for years but never really dealt with. This year has been a tipping point for many debaters to start getting involved with existing efforts, and to start brainstorming new approaches. I have been a leader in this regard. This year I have been working with a teammate on quantitatively and qualitatively analyzing gender's effect on performance on APDA. We have collected tab data throughout the year, and have set up an in-depth research project for the summer.
In addition to this research, I have individually tried to improve female novices experience on APDA. After attending a Women's Initiative forum at Dartmouth, and learning about goals to have a hybrid program for female novices, I reached out to female novice debaters for hybrids both at MIT and Amherst.
Ultimately, my understanding of the MAL position is that she oversees board responsibilities, namely: the EOF program, expansion coordinator program, videos, novice mentor program, title tournaments, and the newsletter. Therefore, a MAL needs to make sure that the appointees in these positions have support they need, and must be willing to get things done.
I know we are all campaigning with proposals and position descriptions, but I can demonstrate a history of committing myself fully to causes I believe in and making things happen. Given that, I believe I am the most noteworthy candidate, and would be honored if you gave me your support.
My name is Daniel Cobos and I plan on running for the Member at Large position. I am the former President of the George Washington University team and the current Novice Mentor of the team. My decision to run for this position was to advance many different viewpoints that I have gathered through my five semesters in this league, ranging from the view from schools from what we call "the south" and the views of many people (both from the south and the north) who are concerned with equity problems in our league. It is my belief that variety within candidates is important in order to construct a nucleus which can properly represent the league as a whole.
Saying I am from the south or that I understand equity though is not the only I thing that is important. My ability to work well with others and more importantly dedication to the activity will show through my work. Additionally, I have made a lot of great personal connections on APDA which pushes me to work hard for everyone, not just my team or my region. I have great friends through the entire league and it is in my own personal best interest to make this league a forum that is safe, fun and encourages growth. This ranges from continuing the growth of currently strong schools and working as an elected body to make sure others grow/are created.
Most importantly, I want this body to work in a way in which we maximize the amount of aid given to schools that need it while also attempting to maintain fairness through the league. This is a balance that, while difficult, can be achieved through the right candidates. I believe I am that candidate and I would be honored to serve the league if elected.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com or call me at 561-926-2054. If you want to know how I would be helpful to the league or to your team as far as specific policies, I will be more than happy to communicate that information to you.
My name is Beth Sheil and I am a sophomore on the Maryland team running for Member at Large. I am currently a Novice Mentor, Equal Opportunity Facilitator, and Maryland's President. I believe that these experiences combined with my personal dedication to making positive changes on APDA makes me qualified to be a MAL.
First, I think I would be a suitable representative to the APDA board. I am very friendly and easy to talk to, and have attended a majority of the tournaments during both my years on APDA. I have many friends from all regions of the circuit, and I am always willing to talk to people and make new friends no matter what school you are from. I think it is important for board members to be willing to help out all debaters, not simply their friends or regular competitors.
Secondly, I have unique experiences that qualify me to be a MAL. As a Novice Mentor, I organized demonstration rounds at Hopkins, Columbia and Swat Novice. I also organized a Novice Clinic at Swat novice and a Forum on Mentorship at AU. As an EOF I have served as equity officer at four tournaments this year, three of which were unopposed. Additionally I served as the equity officer at the World Universities Debating Championship this past winter, which allowed me international experience with handling issues of parity in debate. As the main responsibility of MALs is to oversee committees like the NM and EOF boards, my experience on the other side of the table would be incredibly important to allow me to best serve APDA.
Not only have my efforts and programs improved novice retention and training, but they have also shown my commitment to equality for everyone, regardless of your gender, race or school affiliation. I believe board members have a responsibility to create a culture of accountability and respect to all individuals. This includes continuing the fight against misogyny, but also treating novices as individuals who deserve respect.
If elected to the board I will continue working to create gender equitable calibration rounds. This would do two good things. One, it would provide many teams with much needed calibration and two it will show women being successful at debate. This helps to fight unconscious sexist stereotypes that can be found on the league. I also hope to create a system that will make equity on the league more uniform by working to establishing best practices that have team equity officers report any equity violations to the EOFs. Lastly, I support the creation of a second Proam tournament in the spring, an idea generated from the Forum on Mentorship.
I have had an amazing time on APDA, and formed many wonderful friendships. I want to ensure that everyone has a chance to have the same positive experience I have had and I think that I can best do this as a MAL. I hope that I get the opportunity to give back to this community that has meant so much to me over my college career. Please feel free to email, facebook or call me if you have any questions or suggestions, or if you just want to see a cute animal or two.
My name is David Stauffer and I am running for Member at Large. I am currently a junior at American University, the Director of Administration on the American University Debate Team, and an Equal Opportunity Facilitator on the league, working to address issues of gender inequity through working to develop a policy to handle complaints outside of the scope of regular tournaments, serving as an equity officer across multiple tournaments, and participating in regular discussions regarding the state of equity on the circuit. I've been on the league for nearly two years now, and have attended nearly every tournament and every single APDA meeting during that time period, and plan to keep up that high level of participation in the coming year. I'm running for Member at Large in order to better facilitate novice retention, improve gender equality, and create sustainable plans for southern and western expansion.
When it comes to novice retention, although a justified emphasis is put on league culture, we need to focus on creating an environment that shows that APDA is a vehicle for long-term success, both in terms of the skills gained and careers advanced. We have several notable alumni and deep positive benefits from this activity, but take for granted that newcomers to the activity will rearrange their class schedules or choose us over other activities or debate leagues. Creating more opportunities for guest speakers and demonstration rounds to talk not only about ways to succeed at the activity once someone enjoys it, but about the inherent value of the activity will help a great deal in improving overall retention of both novice and varsity members across the league.
I've experienced and had to address sexism first-hand as an EOF throughout my time on the league, and think that we can do significantly more to create meaningful solutions to this problem. Continuing to collect and study tabulation data and hold meaningful discussions about current issues of gender discrimination in our league, as I've helped to do this year, is important; acting on those data points is more critical. Establishing the Women's Initiative as a formal committee on APDA and working with it, the Novice Mentors, and EOFs to deal with problems of intrateam sexism (which, particularly early in the year is often the most pernicious, as teams create unwelcoming environments for female novices before they can even make external connections to get league support/speak out on the problems), through early and persistent outreach, along with ensuring female presence in demo rounds and creating a meaningful online safe space for equity complaint discussion will go a long way toward redressing APDA's problems with gender inequality.
Looking towards expansion- we need to overhaul an outdated system of expansion coordinators that does not meaningfully provide the personnel and resources we need to properly foster expansion on the league as a whole. Having one expansion coordinator south of New Brunswick and one expansion coordinator for "the west" is just patently insane. We need to create a system of buddy schools, with specific representatives appointed by the board to reach out to individual programs, both just starting, still burgeoning, and in decline, to help foster new programs and help build the recruitment structures and institutional support necessary to help programs be stable and successful on the league. Don't just appoint them at the beginning of the year and stop, either; if at any point a member of the league reaches out and says they have a nearby school who is in need of help or who they'd like to help, work with them and provide them resources to facilitate expansion. More than that, however, we need to be expanding with a focus on creating new tournaments. The idea that West Point is the southernmost option on a given weekend, or that Chicago and Stanford are the only tournaments in the West (and that Chicago and Palo Alto are considered the same region) is just silly. We need to, as a league, help more newer/expansion schools get resources and dino connections to create tournaments. This not only helps the league in terms of reducing transportation costs for current members in regions without a great deal of local tournaments, it allows meaningful expansion to be possible for newer programs in Chicago and California whose introductory institutional support won't allow them to fly across the country every weekend and allows newer teams on the league who hold these tournaments to actually gain substantial amounts of funds and the opportunity to cut costs through registration swaps. We should really be looking for a system of expansion that gives us weekends with not just one or two tournaments, but four or five near major hubs: DC, NY, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco. Reducing prohibitive transportation costs and access to money from registration fees is the best way to build the league for the long haul.
I've been a competent administrator and dedicated member of the league, and will bring those qualities to the board. I want to bring my perspective on these critical issues to the board, and work strongly with whoever I am elected alongside, along with anyone appointed to the various committees on the league, to help APDA move forward and become a more welcoming, expansive, and prestigious debate league.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.
My name is Adele Zhang and I'm running for Member-at-Large.
Currently I am a sophomore and the Secretary of the Columbia Debate team. I want to run for this position because I want to give back to a league that has given a lot to me. Because of our central location Columbia's been able to regularly send teams to tournaments in both the North and the South, so I think I have a uniquely balanced sense of different regional viewpoints. This becomes especially important during scheduling time, where I can be a bridge between Northern and Southern regional interests. This year, many schools in the south had to take huge hits in terms of fatigue/financial difficulties because there were 5 or so back to back New Jersey tournaments. While personally this was amazing for Columbia, I do recognize that this kind of travel is impossible for some schools. It's true, there are just more northern tournaments, but the least we can do is to spread out the New Jersey one's so that it's not all in a row.
My central location also means that I can represent the schools of the greater NYC/tri-state area, a region that tends to be underrepresented in the status quo. There are a lot of expansion/smaller programs near NYC that need help with things like attracting dinos, finding coaches, etc. I'm already working on putting together a unified dino database for NYC schools, and with access to board resources I think I could make these efforts even stronger. I also intend on having the Expansion Program hosting "town hall" type meetings in which the presidents/other board members of different teams can come together and talk about different ways they run a successful team. This would greatly benefit the teams that either have lost, or don't have that much institutional memory can ask other schools for help in an open environment.
I also care deeply about improving retention. I was fairly lucky to have come from a well established school like Columbia, and so breaking into APDA was much easier for me. Often new debaters from smaller programs don't have that kind of leg up, and so getting into the APDA social scene becomes harder for them. Sometimes we as a league get caught up in catching up with friends that we only see once a week that we forget to make new ones. Being on the board would allow me to reach out to different schools and I always want to be a friendly face that people can come up to and talk to either about their issues with the league, questions about debate, or just to be friends.
Retention can come in the form of competitive success, but it also comes through making sure the novices have fun and make friends on APDA. Pushing things like open adjudication, or having judges actively seek out novices to give them feedback after the round are great ways to do this. Also encouraging tournaments to have between-round entertainment (karaoke at Brown and APDA Feud come to mind) I think would be a step in the right direction in terms of helping novice retention. Let's create something like the APDA Cultural Society. I know the name sounds ridiculous, but it could be meaningful to create a group devoted to maintaining a sense of community in the league. We should try and make the league something people want to be a part of, even if they're not having competitive success every weekend.
I've noticed that most of the people running for the board this year (myself included) come from teams with very few internal equity problems, and thus we tend to focus more on the league-wide issue of equity. But going to a couple of women's initiative meetings this year, we all heard these stories of teams that have had serious equity problems that the board didn't address because they simply just didn't hear about it. Luckily, the problems resolved themselves but they could have been resolved much quicker. While we as a league seem to have no problem talking about equity, there are still teams out there, and novices, who don't know that it's okay to speak up when something offends you. I intend on normalizing talking about equity through the use of a more established Women's Initiative Program. That would include having WI meetings specifically targeted at novices, having a person in WI be in charge to reaching out and talking to different schools about equity and making s ure that there aren't things going unnoticed. We want people to know at all times that there are people willing to listen to their problems and having a specific person to talk to would cut down on the intimidation factor by a lot.
It also is a problem since most established teams don't have equity problems, a large majority of those teams aren't very involved in equity. Equity needs to be something that is built in on a team level. Because Columbia doesn't really have an equity problem, some members of our team live in a bubble and don't see it as a problem. This means that they don't attend things like the WI meetings, or don't take equity seriously. I propose to write a lesson plan of sorts of guidelines a team could use to introduce equity into team culture. That way, when these people get more involved onto the circuit, they'll have a better understanding of what the problems facing the circuit are, what the league is doing to change things and how they can help. It's really great that the league has so many people that are focused on changing the negative aspects of the league but at the end of the day, the league is made of different teams and we need to change team culture in order to make this change permanent.
I've had a year of E-Board experience being on Columbia's E-Board and I know the amount of work that goes into it. I know APDA Board will be more hectic as the scale is so much larger, but I'm a very organized person, and I'm very motivated. I am passionate about making APDA a better place and I really think I can do it. I've been to most of the tournaments this year (as most of the ones I've missed are due to being in China) and I have no plans on letting up my commitment to the league. My role on the board is to continue the trajectory of having the league be a welcoming, equitable place for all teams, not just the already established ones.
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