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Announcing the Launch of Debatematters.org
By: Annie Kors
This weekend is the official launch of debatematters.org, an organization currently dedicated to encouraging and enforcing tournament safety procedures. We have developed a list of safety guidelines that we believe to be crucial in the effort to protect students.
This weekend I am thrilled to announce that both the Minneapple and the Harvard-Westlake tournament will be adopting the safety guidelines listed below as part of their official tournament procedure.
The function of the site is fairly simple. We will email tournament directors, alerting them of the guidelines and asking them to follow them to the best of their ability.
After each tournament with an LD division, we will release and publicize a survey for competitors and judges to evaluate the extent to which they experienced each of these rules being followed. Using that data and a set methodology, we will release a "safety score" on the website. We will also send the results and the raw data to each tournament director for future awareness and improvement. This will provide coaches and teachers the opportunity to select the tournaments that will keep their students safe and avoid tournaments that aren't able or inclined to do so effectively.
As a community it is so important that we work together to ensure this activity is as safe as it can be for the students participating.
Please check out our website! As time progresses, we hope to post articles and host moderated discussions about the rules themselves and what they should look like and about best practices in implementation.
This weekend carabineers that function as both whistles and flashlights and have "debatematters.org" on the side will be sold for 3 dollars at the HW tournament. If you'd like to buy one, they're available online at the website.
I'd like to thank everyone so much for the acceptance and encouragement I so strongly hope this will receive. If anyone has any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to message me or email me at email@example.com.
Tournament Safety Guidelines:
1. Hiring "unaffiliated" or "non debate” judges takes place well in advance - Where college tournaments may work with a communications department to use student judges, the tournament director should have affirmative acknowledgment that the person being hired is safe to be around students. The use of an “all call” or “we’ll hire anyone” is strongly discouraged. The tournament director should be absolutely comfortable in trusting every judge that may be used. This person will be alone with students for many hours.
2. Strict ballot table instructions: The ballot table can only give ballots to people on a list pre approved by the director or someone in charge somewhere.
3. Tab rooms should know and have a record of who judged every round. The *actual* judge and affiliation should be noted on the ballot. This should be written by a tournament official at the ballot table.
4. It is not acceptable for a school to turn in a list of judges that just says SCHOOLNAME1 schoolname2 schoolname3. At some published and determined time, an accurate list of names must be submitted.
5. Tournaments should publish realistic schedules. When people know a schedule is completely unrealistic, they are likely to ignore it altogether. This means that some people will be sitting in rooms waiting while others aren’t planning on going to a round for a long time. Where a tournament does fall behind, a modified and updated schedule should be well-publicized throughout the tournament.
6. Where tournaments have rounds at faraway places, there should be an official tournament table that is very noticeable and seen to everyone walking into the building. This table should always be staffed. Buildings can not appear to be “forgotten” or “off the radar” of the main tournament.
7. Schools cannot switch between judges or “share codes/names” between multiple judges. Judges must go to their assigned round. If there needs to be a change, that must be approved by the tabroom.
8. It should be an expectation that people will be looking in on rooms - even if the tournament staff member believes the round is underway. There should be affirmative acknowledgment that round has started. The judge should see a tournament staff member has looked in. Judges should report to a tournament director if, in fact, their room was not checked. This could be the single most important check that can take place to deter an assault. It is the final line of defense a tournament has after the door has closed. This should be done for every single room for every single round and every single flight.
9. Arrangements should be made to keep open doors that may automatically lock. Someone without a key should be able to get in the room without someone on the inside letting them in.
10. A judge should never be in a room alone with a single student with the door closed.