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Monday, January 10, 2005

APDA Candidacy

Last year, I ran for APDA's executive board. I lost. This should suprise nobody familiar with the debate league, or my tendency not to be "nice" to "people" who I "don't like." I feel as if I made a couple other errors, however - silly things like, for example, not lying a lot and promising people everything under the sun. See, I was at the disadvantage of thinking that people would care if I was overtly decieving them. It turns out that it's the exact opposite. So I am running again this year, and given that everyone else has started being political, I feel like I need to also. But since not making pointless, heaping amounts of promises failed last year, I decided to dig deeper. I went over the candidate statements from last year and counted the number of *specific* promises each candidate made, and decided to see who won. The results are staggering:

Kate Reilly: 3
Andrew Korn: 5

VP Operations:
Ya'ir Aizenman: 4
Sonya Hoo: 1
Kat Hyland: 5
Alan Lawn: 2

VP Finance:
Greg Arthur: 2
Alex Blenkinsopp: 5

In every single race, the person who made the most overt promises managed to pull through. I ommitted the member races, since drop downs and an alcohol-soaked memory don't allow me to recall what exactly happened. By the way, the only criteria I used for a "specific promise" is that it be a seperable and somewhat specific pledge to do something. "I want to make APDA better" did not count whereas "I want to make a video archive" did. The winners are in bold.

So I decided to kick off my campaign this year really early (since I have been awake for, literally, 32 straight hours) by making the most complete bullshit promises of any candidate in the history of APDA.

1) Novice Retention and Mentoring(1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10)
Every year people on the circuit look around, and notice that there seem to be fewer novices than they remember. That empirical evidence seems to suggest no program ever initiated in the history of APDA has had any significant bearing on this percieved problem does not daunt me. I have stared into the abyss of mentoring programs of the past, where willing novices can talk to storied juniors for sixty awkward seconds a weekend, and realized that one important thing was missing: cultlike initiations. The dropout rate for APDA is staggering: it's estimated* as being six times higher than that of both Scientology and the US Marine Corp. Clearly what we need are more brutal hazings and definitely more brain washing. I propose that, in lieu of rounds and oral critiques at our novice tournament(s), we drug new novices, put them in a room with no windows and a single banana to share between a dozen of them for the entire weekend. If they make it through that ordeal, then we shave their heads and make them dress in black for every tournament until they obtain their first varsity break. Once they've done that, they will be assigned to an APDA Dino who will be required to recite "back in my day" stories about how rounds used to be on time, and how they didn't use flow pads, and housing required a six hour hike to the top of a mountain. And they liked it.

*=utterly fabricated.

2) Bidding for unopposed tournaments (1)
Right now, schools holding unopposed tournaments possess a steadfast grip on the political control of APDA. Continuing in the great tradition of utter lies, they issue vague promises of OTY points and favoritism despite the near impossibility of busting a tournament with one hundred and twenty teams judged mostly by dinos. Clearly this means we need to let people bid on them, since the bidding process is certain to expunge any hint of the taint of corruption from these storied contests of intellectual will. Moreover, we desperately need to make sure that the tournaments that hold APDA meetings can provide the following scare resources:
1. A room. A largish room. Not huge, mind you, but spacious.
I feel as if this is a good step towards making sure that the big tournaments are run as efficiently as possible. Becuase there has never been a screwup at Nats, nor at Northams, nor any shadiness with respect to the selection process, proving that bidding is beyond reproach. Amen.

3) New Team Retention and Assistance (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9)
This year may be a record for the number of new schools added to the schedule, and good for them! I wish you all a big hello from the greater APDA community! Thankfully, we also managed to increase the number of unopposed tournaments. How do we do that, you ask? Well, there's a very well defined system of priorities. They are, in descending order:
1. Has a member on the executive board.@
2. Is in New York City
3. Is a title tournament
4. Has a team capable of running an unopposed tournament

Notice how easy it is to figure out who's going to be getting these? If you're new - don't worry. We won't put together a schedule that would allow people who can't drive north to Boston or south to Baltimore to attend a tournament, guaranteeing a small but certain first go. No siree, we'll just pile you all one on top of another so we can see you duke (Ha! Get it? Duke?) it out, Darwin style! I'd have proposed a system similar to the one above for novices, but it looks like this year's board beat me to it!

@ = Unless you happen to never have hosted a tournament larger than 30 teams, in which case you'll have to nominally oppose a tournament in Siberia.

4) Worlds Presence (2)
This is short and sweet: I promise that worlds will totally want to come back to America, and that Americans need to be retrained to do well in Worlds style. Leaving aside the fact that there really isn't really an American base capable of judging or orchestrating such an event, nor is there one who understands the intricacies of the Worlds system, or is there really much love for Americans by any of members of the countries important to achieving this - I think we, like, definitely have a shot. I mean, so what if it's practically a different debate event? It's more prestigious than silly old "competing in the actual style you've learned." Putting aside the variance in circuit elligibility and the strong preference given to nonAmerican schools in adjudication, and the fact that it's technically not the same as APDA debate despite sharing a name, we should do well at World.

5) Bridging the North/South Divide (5, 7, 10)
This is one of those things that, for some reason, people are unable to get behind. The North/South divide has existed for too long and I intend to see something done about it. Taking a cue from my boy Mao, I propose we have a sort of... APDA Cultural Revolution. Novices will be pooled together, each assigned a number, and there will be a lottery at the beginning of each APDA year to determine who belongs to what team. Novice trading will be prohibited unless first approved by the newly created "board of integration." Novices will then be under the care and tutelage of the team to which they now belong, and if they wish to debate, must do so with a member of the team to which they are assigned. Any tournament caught allowing unsanctioned teams to compete will be burned to the ground ("desanctioned") and the tournament director will be summarily executed ("issued a strongly worded e-mail cc'd to the board").

6) Nonprofit status and Investment (8)
This has been a mainstay of the Vice President of Finance for, at the very least, the past five years. I realize that I am not technically running for this office, but that won't prevent me from utterly failing to do anything even approaching looking into the matter just as much as, or moreso than, the VP Finances of years past. I will uphold this storied tradition of promising thousands of dollars from unspecificed sources even as I become your -OTY updating slave.

On the other hand, if there is a real desire for this farce to continue for yet another year (as I suspect there is), then I propose a better solution. Rather than offering only the PR of giving money to Ivy League kids to the benefactor, we can make tournament sanction contingent upon allowing APDA to sell naming rights. The KAPLAN Invitational. The Starbucks Open. In fact, while we're at it, we can even let corporations sponsor individual teams. Don't want to debate for your school? Why not let Princeton Review draft whatever debaters they want! We can change the by-laws definition of "institution" from being one of higher learning, to any loosely affiliated group. There's no exposure from doing this? If a corporation wanted to give significant amounts of money to target the same demographic, they could just advertize in Princeton's storied student newspaper? Silly! Just sit back, elect me, and watch the money come rolling in.

Why? Becuase I plan on also changing Nationals from the silly "regular tournament" format to March Madness: APDA STYLE. Combining no fewer than three totally ridiculous claims from past campaigns, I propose that we get corporate sponsorship and TV time on C-Span2 for a single elimination tournament. Seeding will be determined by the presidents of the teams who have unopposed tournaments, as well as the APDA executive board. In cases where these two groups overlap with respect to a specific individual, that person will get three votes, since they are obviously a beacon of superior debate understanding and represent a pillar of the community. I feel as if the proceeds from this will probably be enough to give full scholarships to everyone who finishes top 30 TOTY and SOTY, and will also go towards buying everyone who wants one a puppy.

7) Women and Minorities
There has been a tragic decline in the rhetoric surrounding the need to find as many token women and minorities as possible, and promote them beyond all reason. Since the majority white-male circuit and the atmosphere of racial ignorance can't possibly be to blame, I'm willing to place the blame squarely where it's needed most: the EOFs. The Equal Opportunity Facilitators have been the shock troops against race and gender oppression on this circuit without getting the proper recognition they deserve. The problem can't possibly be the fundimentally wrong-headed approach to this sensitive issue. The problem is: not enough EOFs. The board took significant strides in this direction this year by adding a sixth EOF. But is six really enough? Clearly we need to make literally every member of APDA an EOF. Given all the special training* they get, as well as the in-depth and clearly defined policies* they enforce, it seems like the EOFs ought to be Buddhalike in their ability to make the underrepresented feel represented. Everyone could benefit from this training, and I think it's important that we get this done.

In addition, anyone who is of any minority group (this includes, oddly, women) will, at the beginning of each tournament, be issued a "race card." This card can be played at any time during a speech in much the same manner as a point of order might be called. The race card is good for an in-rounds win, or a single judge in any out-round. Tournaments that do not comply with this policy will be forced to oppose Nationals the following year.

*=complete fairy tale.

8) -OTYs
As it stands, the league can give depressingly few awards. Chris P. SOTY. NOTY. TOTY. DSAs. Board positions. EOF positions. Following the logic of Novice awards, doesn't it seem like the way to cut back on loss and increase retention might be... to give everyone awards? I propose that in addition to the current awards given out, we create a system whereby AOTY, BOTY, COTY, EOTY, GOTY etc... become official, APDA sanctioned awards. If there comes a time in the future where the entire alphabet is insufficient to cover the individuals on APDA, the cyrillic alphabet may be used, followed by the Phoenecian, followed by random squiggles made by either a zoo-bound elephant with watercolors or a chimpanzee. These awards will be administed by individuals who shall be appointed to each letter by the board following a short and totally insufficient application process, and a coin flip. Thus we can all pad our resumes twice as much, which is, as we know, both the real purpose of debate and the way you win ROTY.

9) Laundry Service
If there's one thing APDA is about besides making sure our resumes are very, very long, it's trying to put money in our pockets. Am I right?! Your team have a little extra cash at the end of the year? "Student Government Association" breathing down your neck? I propose APDA use its status as a corporation to funnel money from team coffers into team pockets. By letting dues be "At least $100, but as much as one voluntarily might want to 'donate'" I feel like we can make APDA money laundering a reality. For a nominal fee, APDA Inc. can pay for your spring break with school funds and make money that we're "going to spend on new schools" and "not on random self-congratulation."

10) Arbitrary Promises Galore
Just to make sure I come up with the most unquestionably absurd promises out of all of the candidates, I, without additional explication, would like to also propose the following:
-Men of APDA Calender
-APDA Debtors prison
-APDA Gift Shop (Duty-Free?)
-APDA Dating service
-National Syndication of The Clash
-President of APDA gets audience with UN once per year
-At least one gold medal in 2008 Beijing Olympics
-APDA, eating disorders, and you: A comprehensive pamphlet.

Thank you, and God bless.

As an aside, there are numbers next to each complete fabrication of a promise. The numbers correspond to individuals who ran for APDA board last year. Each time you see someone's number, it's becuase they made a point of putting that specific promise in their candidate statement.

Disclaimer: Look up "tongue-in-cheek" if you take this seriously. Then bite yours off.

cranked out at 4:45 PM | |

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