Overview and Context
The American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) seeks to provide a harassment-free environment. The APDA Board of Trustees believes students should be able to debate without being subjected to harassment along the lines of gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability. In the spring of 2000, the APDA body passed a resolution to create an Equal Opportunity Facilitator (EOF) program. The Equal Opportunity Facilitators (EOFs) are fellow students and APDA debaters working to facilitate the harassment-free environment that APDA seeks to provide. They do not represent an assumption of liability on behalf of APDA.
The nature of EOFs is flexible and is affected by the EOFs' individual training and personality. Nonetheless, there are certain core elements that an EOF team possesses. EOFs will be available and responsive to any needs or concerns during an APDA sanctioned tournament. EOFs can serve as an intermediary, a giver of advice, a referrer of services, or simply as someone to listen. Internal issues (like harassment occurring between two debaters from the same school) or issues that occur outside of a debate tournament are not in the purview of the EOF. These issues should be explained to the complainant by offering resources within that complainant's own college or appropriate legal authority.
To provide clarity within the program, this policy has been constructed using guidelines written by John Dolan, program experience, and input from the APDA body and board.
Appointment of EOFs
The selection of EOFs is a responsibility of the APDA board, to be overseen by the Member-at-Large liaison to the program. The Member-at-Large will solicit applications for the position from the general body during the summer before each APDA season. The APDA board will review applications prior to and conduct interviews at the opening Novice tournament. In the event that an individual who has applied for the EOF position is unable to attend Novice, an interview will be conducted by phone or e-mail before the tournament. Implicit in the application process is an EOFs willingness to comply with the program's policy of strict confidentiality, except in cases where an individual is a threat to him/herself or others. Through either the application or the interview, the board will ask if the applicant is interested in the position of the EOF Secretary so they may be sure to consider all interested applicants for the position.
Selection of EOFs will be based on the consideration of a range of criteria, primarily an individual's training and experience as a peer mediator, conflict resolution specialist, and student counselor. In addition, the Board of Trustees will consider factors such as dedication to support a harassment free environment on APDA, personality, diversity, availability to the APDA circuit over the coming year, willingness to follow the guidelines set forth for EOFs, and the goal to have an EOF present at every tournament be it in the northern, central, or southern regions of APDA. The determination of the qualifications of an applicant will occur through the application and interview process.
Once the deadline for application submission has passed, the Member-at-Large liaison to the program should take out all identifying information in the application (name, contact info, school info, question responses, etc) The Member-at-Large will then send out the application to each member of the APDA Board and have each applicant ranked on a scale of one to ten, in intervals of one-half if necessary. Once the Member-at-Large has received all of the application scores from each member of the National Board, the Member resends the application, this time including identifying information. Each board member may then adjust the previously given score by a factor of one in either direction. The scores are again sent to the Member-at-Large who averages the scores for each applicant into one application score.
The interview is also scored on a scale of one to ten, again allowing intervals of one-half. Each board member available to interview the applicant will rank that individual, and the scores will be averaged into a single interview score. The two scores, application and interview, are then averaged by the Member-at-Large and the individuals with the highest overall scores will be selected as EOFs. The number of EOFs appointed in any given year is left to the discretion of the APDA Board. The designation of the EOF Secretary is also left to the board's discretion.
If absolutely necessary to fulfill the goals of the program, specifically having diverse and qualified EOFs from a range of geographic areas who are available to the body at each APDA sanctioned tournament, a majority consensus by the board may allow for variance from this formula. In these situations, the highest level of precaution must be taken to maintain a fair and objective selection process.
The announcement of a competitive year's EOFs will take place at Novice, or immediately thereafter, and will include a designation of one of the EOFs as EOF Secretary. If an incident occurs before the appointment of that year's EOFs, it may be brought to the attention of an EOF from the previous competitive year who still intends to be active on the APDA circuit.
Roles and Responsibilities
The role of an EOF has traditionally been viewed as a fundamentally reactive position. In this regard, the EOF should be available and accessible at all times to all members of the community. The EOF should be a referrer, a resource, a giver of agency, a sounding board, and an empathizer. An EOF will seek to resolve issues using the standards set forth in the EOF guidelines written by John Dolan and available on the APDA web page or upon request to the APDA board. Additionally, the EOFs will receive supplemental training, specifically tailored to the potential needs of the APDA body. Supplemental training will be coordinated by the APDA Member-at-Large and the EOF secretary soon after the Novice Tournament. The program needs the ability to take some proactive steps in addition to simply reacting to complaints. The compilation and distribution of a Crisis Response Booklet, and the potential holding of forums at unopposed tournaments, are examples of such steps. In order to maintain confidence in the program, as well as prevent any overstepping of the program's boundaries, any proactive steps desired by the EOF program must first be cleared with the APDA board. The EOF Secretary will approach the Member-at-Large liaison with the measure in question and await board approval before proceeding with the proactive measure. In the event that the board decides the action is inappropriate, the EOF Secretary will inform the other EOFs that they are not to proceed with the action. Having already been approved by the board, the Crisis Response Booklet should be updated yearly by the EOF team as a whole; the EOF Secretary will oversee the process and compile a new booklet each semester.
The EOF should remember that the sphere of confidentiality extends to and ends with the other EOFs and the end-year report to the APDA board and body. Seeking help and feedback with other EOFs is desirable. To this end, an EOF should plan to meet with the other EOFs at every tournament that the APDA board has an APDA meeting. In these meetings, the EOFs should discuss any incidences that they have dealt with and seek feedback about the techniques used. However, the EOF should strictly avoid any discussion of harassment issues with non-EOFs. Ideally, an EOF would never make mistakes. Nevertheless, we are all human. The key to being an EOF is getting advice before pursuing action and admitting any possible flaws as soon as possible.
An EOF should have two objectives. First, the EOF should resolve issues of harassment as they are brought to the attention of the EOF. Second, the EOF should avoid actions that would cause lawsuits to the APDA organization. Along these lines, the EOF should avoid using the name of the position or of APDA, incorporated, when attempting to resolve an issue when possible. The EOF, acting in his or her official capacity, should avoid APDA-posts, Clash articles, or other public forums to air their views about APDA harassment or otherwise raise awareness about a particular individual, action, or trend. If an individual who happens to be an EOF chooses to express a view on such issues he or she ought to make it clear that he or she is not speaking for the program as a whole, but rather as an individual member of the APDA body. The EOF program may choose, through discussion and consensus and pending board approval, to issue a group statement in appropriate situations.
An EOF should always excuse himself or herself in situations where the EOF is implicated or has significant relations to one of the parties involved. If an issue arises that involves allegations against an EOF, then the following precautions should be followed:
1. The EOF implicated will be treated as if he or she were not an EOF, meaning that discussion of the problem, or the techniques to be used to resolve the issue, will be limited to the EOFs not implicated by the allegation(s).
2. The EOF handling the matter will work to empower the complainant by seeking their ideal solution. However, a complainant cannot demand that the EOF be removed as part of the proposed constructive solution. A complaint having been brought against an EOF is not in and of itself a reason to recommend the removal of that EOF from the program. The EOF may independently choose to resign
3. The EOF team may recommend to the board that an EOF be removed, but the power to remove an EOF shall be limited exclusively to the APDA board. The EOF team shall make such a recommendation only after voting on the matter and finding a two-thirds consensus for removal. Tie votes will not result in a recommendation to remove and all abstentions will be removed from the total, counting neither for nor against the removal of an EOF.
4. In the event that a the EOF team decides to recommend the removal of a fellow EOF, the EOF secretary will send a general account of the reasons for the recommendation, taking care to retain confidentiality by removing identifying specifics, to the APDA board.
This procedure should be followed in any circumstance where the EOF team is considering recommending the removal of a fellow EOFs.
The EOF should keep a log of any cases of harassment or group actions. This log should detail the nature of the complaint and how the EOF dealt with the situation. This report should take care to exclude names or other significantly identifying characteristics. Prior to APDA Nationals, the EOFS should collectively meet and submit their records on harassment to the EOF who has been designated as Secretary. This EOF Secretary should combine the reports into one annual report and present it to the APDA National Board of Trustees and the body at or before the APDA National Championship Tournament.
Amendments and Changes
This policy and program shall be subject to review by the APDA body every three years to allow for improvements and new considerations. Amendments to this policy may be adopted at any time through the traditional mechanism of a vote by representatives from APDA member schools.