NEDA Objectives and Procedures

Section I – Mission

This Association promotes debate as a practical educational experience and believes that performance by participants should reflect the stylistic and analytical skills that would be rewarded in typical public forums (i.e., courts, congress, the classroom, civic gatherings, etc.). To facilitate this mission, the Association will host a variety of tournament events open to students and directors willing to abide by and enforce Association standards of ethical, responsible, humane and communicative advocacy. Association tournaments are viewed as an extension of the speech classroom. Specifically, the skills we teach as effective in persuading a public audience are also the skills rewarded at Association events. Ideally, a debate is an exchange that, when witnessed by a member of the general public, would be viewed as comprehensible and enlightening. A more specific description of the climate expected to prevail at Association events may be found in Jack Howe’s “CEDA’s Original Objectives–Lest We Forget” (CEDA Yearbook, 1981) and Robert Weiss’ “The Audience Standard (CEDA Yearbook, 1985).

Section II – Argument Content

A) Arguments should be supported with what a general listener would consider “good reasons.”

1) Analysis, explanation and appeals to common sense are considered appropriate argumentative strategy.

2) Use of evidence from published sources complements and makes persuasive the advocate’s presentation. Evidence should include full citation of source, source qualifications, and date to enable clash over evidence quality. Since research skill and inventional proficiency are both important objectives of debate participation, NEDA expects debaters to take full responsibility for argument construction and the accuracy of evidence upon which arguments are based.

B) Rhetorical invention acknowledges that the ability to identify and be sensitive to public sentiment enhances the persuasiveness of the advocate.

1) Advocates should realize the substantial burden of proof assumed when advancing arguments that would be considered inappropriate in a public forum.

2) Advocates should understand the risk that decision makers often dismiss counterintuitive claims regardless of quantity of inartistic proof upon which such claims may rest.

3) Advocates should bear responsibility for focusing public discussions on significant issues central to the topic under deliberation.

Section III – Style

A) Debate is a communication activity derived from principles inherent in the rhetorical tradition that provides the foundation for most courses in oral communication.

B) Eloquence invigorates content. Civil, comprehensible presentation skills will be rewarded at Association events.

C) The Association views debate as a formal event. Participants and coaches are reminded that conduct should reflect respect for other participants, audiences, the debate activity, and the mission of the Association.

Section IV Association Sanctioned Events

A) The Association will officially sanction tournaments/events that promote the educational objectives of the organization.

1) Events will be invitational — open to members only.

2) Events must receive a 2/3 vote by the executive council to be sanctioned.

3) Tournaments may utilize a variety of formats, judging pools, and evaluative techniques provided the event host is able to justify innovations are consistent with the mission of the Association.

4) Event fees to offset costs borne by the host institution should be approved by the executive committee as part of the sanctioning process.

5) Tournament hosts should endeavor to insure that 50% of all ballots are assigned to lay judges.

B) Each year the executive council shall designate an inaugural (early fall) and championship (late spring) tournament.

C) Tournament hosts will be responsible, in consultation with the executive council, for the administrative duties of the events they host.

D) The Association encourages participation without regard to ethnicity, gender, age, origin, sexual orientation, or physical disability. Event administrators are encouraged to facilitate participation by members of traditionally under represented groups.

Section V – Eligibility for Tournament Participation

A) Directors and participants are expected to conform to the mission and rules of the Association as a condition of membership and event entry.

B) Novice division must be composed of debaters who have participated in no more than 6 debate tournaments (high school or college) of any kind.

C) Open division will be open to any full-time undergraduate student.

Section VI – Judging

A) This Association views judges as active and indispensable participants in the debate process.

B) Judging pools for Association events may consist of directors of debate, subject area experts, and/or lay judges.

C) All judges will be assigned randomly (except that judges should not hear teams that they currently coach).

D) Judges have the option of giving a double loss in a round in which neither team argues in a manner consistent with Association standards.

E) Judges are expected to stop rounds and render an immediate decision against any team whose actions demean other participants in a round or subvert the possibility of meaningful clash through:

1) Incomprehensible/noncommunicative style;

2) Avoiding clash by advancing positions that misrepresent or sidestep issues central to the resolution and/or the position of the opposing team;

3) Behavior that is rude, abusive or hostile to other participants in the round (participants, observers, and/or critic judges).

4) Affirmative cases that are irrelevant to issues implied by the debate proposition. In this case, topicality should be argued and evaluated as a fairness issue according to the following formula:

a) Topicality challenges may be initiated only in the first negative speech.

b) The affirmative will respond to the argument in the context of the next affirmative speech.

c) Following the cross-examination of the second negative constructive, the negative team must ask for an immediate topicality ruling. The judge will make an oral topicality ruling. If the judge rules in favor of the negative, the debate is over (negative ballot). If the judge rules in favor of the affirmative, the debate continues with no further topicality objection by the negative. The judge may not vote negative on topicality if the debate continues.

d) If the judge feels that a topicality argument is introduced merely as a technicality to diminish affirmative response time, speaker points should be deducted from the negative.

5) Should early stoppage of a round create difficulty in assigning speaker points, the judge may consult the tab room staff.

Section VII – Assessment

The Association is committed to continual evaluation and, if necessary, modification of practices to insure that the educational mission that characterizes the organization is preserved. Each year at the annual conference of the National Communication Association, the membership shall meet to assess the educational outcomes of sanctioned activities and to consider, when appropriate, changes that will further the group’s mission.

Section VIII – Membership

A) Membership is open to individuals sympathetic to the mission of the National Educational Debate Association.

B) New members must be sponsored by a current member of the National Educational Debate Association.

C) A letter of support from a sponsor and a 2/3 favorable vote of the executive council is required for membership.

D) Membership may be revoked when the executive council determines (by at least 50% vote) that the actions of an individual undermine the mission of the Association.

E) Membership extends from April 1 to March 31. Membership fees are established by the executive council.

Section IX – Governance

A) Six individuals shall constitute the organization’s executive council. The council shall include the president, vice president, executive secretary, and three representatives.

1) The President is elected for a three year term by a majority of the Association’s voting members and shall have the following responsibilities:

a) Manage the routine business of the Association.

b) Coordinate Association events such as business meetings, workshops, and the inaugural and championship tournaments.

c) Solicit bids to host Association events and present such requests to the Executive Council for sanctioning.

d) Acknowledge member contributions and performance at Association sponsored events by notifying appropriate institutional administrators.

2) The Vice President is elected for a three year term by a majority of the Association’s voting members and shall have the following responsibilities:

a) Assist the President in coordinating Association events.

b) Oversee, in consultation with the Executive Secretary, awards that are provided by the Association.

c) Assume the office of President should that position be vacated.

3) The Executive Secretary is appointed by the President and shall have the following responsibilities:

a) Oversee finances and records of the Association.

b) Issue periodic reports to the membership regarding Association business.

c) Oversee voting on items of Association business including, but not limited to, election of officers, amendments, and procedural matters.

d) Serve as Association liaison to other professional organizations.

e) Conduct business meetings when the President is unavailable to do so.

4) The At Large Representatives are elected for a three year term by a majority of the Association’s voting membership and shall have the following responsibilities:

a) Serve as a contact, resource, and/or mentor for new or established debate programs.

b) Solicit and sponsor membership applications.

c) Assist in the administration and assessment of Association events.

d) Monitor tournament activities and take measures as appropriate to insure that all Association events are conducted in a manner consistent with the organization’s mission.

B) The Standing Committees of the National Educational Debate Association shall consist of the Outcomes Assessment Committee and the Topic Selection Committee.

1) The Outcomes Assessment Committee members are appointed by the President for a one year term and have the following responsibilities:

a) Develop specific measurement instruments for assessing the educational efficacy of specific practices used in Association sanctioned events.

b) Gather assessment data at sanctioned events.

c) Analyze the gathered data and make recommendations to the Executive Council and membership.

d) Maintain a database for outcomes assessment research by students and scholars.

e) Encourage graduate students and scholars to conduct research in forensics outcomes assessment.

2) The Topic Selection Committee, consisting of six members serving a one year term, shall be appointed and chaired by the President. This committee shall be responsible for drafting a list of three debate topics each semester from which the membership will select the resolution to be featured at all association sanctioned events. The topic selection committee shall work within the following guidelines:

a) The potential topics to be voted on by the membership shall feature all value topics fall semester and all policy topics spring semester.

b) All topic nominations must be submitted to the Association President no less than one month prior to the topic selection committee meeting. Such proposals should then be distributed to allow committee members sufficient time to research and evaluate the topics.

c) Each topic selection committee member will bring to the topic selection meeting no more than three fully-phrased topics for consideration. No additional topics may be considered without a majority vote of the topic selection committee.

d) The topic for fall semester will be voted on by the membership in August with the selected topic released on August 25.

e) The topic for spring semester will be voted on by the membership in December with the selected topic released on the third Monday of December.

Section X–Association Dissolution

A) If a majority of the members of the National Educational Debate Association agree that the Association has abandoned its original ideals, it is the membership’s responsibility to maintain the integrity of the original organization by dissolving the Association and discontinuing the use of its name.

B) The National Educational Debate Association can be dissolved through the following process:

1) A petitioner must submit a formal request and justification signed by at least 25% of the membership to the President.

2) The President will arrange for timely distribution of the request to the entire membership and provide notification of the upcoming discussion and vote.

3) The issue will be discussed at the following Assessment Conference.

4) Balloting will be conducted by mail after the Assessment Conference meeting.

5) Dissolution requires a vote of a majority of the entire membership. A failing motion may not be re-introduced for a period of two years, or a period of three years should the motion fail to garner approval of at least 1/3 of Association membership.

Section XI – Amendments

This document may be amended by a 2/3 vote at the Association’s Annual Assessment meeting or by mail ballot (2/3 of all members voting).

Revised December 2004

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