Request for Comments: Reshaping the DCA application process for EUDC

doorNederlandse Debatbond

Request for Comments: Reshaping the DCA application process for EUDC

Seventwenty recieved this request for comments from Danique van Koppenhagen, one of the CAs of the Durham EUDC bid. Comment and discuss away!

At EUDC council in Belgrade, a decision was made to no longer allow bids for EUDC to announce more than two members of their prospective CA team. The Durham EUDC bid for 2014 has taken this to heart, and announced only Fred Cowell and myself as co-CA’s. DCA’s will be announced after the bid has been awarded.


The change in rules presents a unique opportunity to reshape the process of appointing DCA’s. Fred, myself and the OrgCom of the Durham EUDC bid would like to take this opportunity. Instead of CA-teams for EUDC being chosen without input of the debating community, we would like to introduce a system similar but not necessarily equal to the WUDC application process. However, we recognize that such a process belongs to the entire European debating community. Thus, instead of reshaping it ourselves, we would like your input. Furthermore, we are aware of the fact that at this stage the Durham bid is just that, and that other bids might be coming up. In that case, we hope that the information we gather will be useful to whichever bid wins, and that we can work constructively with all parties involved on this issue.

Application process
As said above, we would like to move the system towards a WUDC-style application process. That process entails an open call for applications open to all, with a publication of the list of people applying and a call for feedback on their performance. We feel that this is a fair system, allowing the debating community to give input on prospective candidates and ensuring that the best individuals are chosen to represent the debating community.
Within such an application procedure, it might necessary to provide representation for all relevant regions in Europe. We feel that choosing four people to work with us in a representative fashion contributing to the adjudication team that delivers a truly excellent Euros would be optimal. As such, we are looking for the best division of those four people across Europe, to represent the different debating circuits within Europe as well as different language categories. The question that now lies before you is how to ensure the regional representation: is that something that needs to be formalized, or is that something that just like in the past we trust winning bids and CA’s to take into account when choosing DCA’s?

Possible regions and representation
Overall, we received input from several individuals, and out of this input we derived three preferred options to consider.
1. Four Regions, according to the current regions as defined in EUDC council information (the division can be found in the constitution here)
a. C&E: Central and Eastern Europe
b. IONA: Islands of the North Atlantic
c. N&W: Northern and Western Europe
d. SE&ME: South-Eastern Europe and the Middle East

2. Three Regions and a fourth person chosen to best complement the five persons in the CA team until that moment
a. Islands of the North Atlantic
b. Northern and Western Europe
c. Central and Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe and the Middle East

3. No pre-determined regions, picking the best people for the job and trusting the CA team to ensure regional representation

We would like to hear from the debating communities within Europe what countries should be included in which region and why. Please provide any input you have (either as comments on this website, on the facebook group, or in email format to dcaprocessdurham@gmail.com), and don’t hesitate to approach either Fred or myself if you have any questions. We will also be available at the Paris IV in April, where we plan to hold a consultation with all that want to join in. If you want your opinion to be used as input to the consultation, please send comments to us by the 31st of March.

Thanks,

OrgCom Durham EUDC bid 2014
Fred Cowell and Danique van Koppenhagen

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De Nederlandse Debatbond (NDB) stelt zich als doel het wedstrijddebat te bevorderen en ondersteunen in Nederland. Als nationaal overkoepelend orgaan vertegenwoordigt de NDB ongeveer 1.000 leden waarvan de meesten lid zijn van één van de debatverenigingen die Nederland rijk is.

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De Nederlandse Debatbond (NDB) stelt zich als doel het wedstrijddebat te bevorderen en ondersteunen in Nederland. Als nationaal overkoepelend orgaan vertegenwoordigt de NDB ongeveer 1.000 leden waarvan de meesten lid zijn van één van de debatverenigingen die Nederland rijk is.

2 reacties tot nu toe

Daan WellingGeplaatst op3:22 pm - feb 14, 2013

Thanks for giving us this important opportunity. I will make this post on a personal title.

The first thing that I would like to say is that I find the discussion about “merit versus regional representation” that has been emerging in some corners of the circuit to be a false dichotomy. One of the most important aspects of being a merited CA is that you have a good knowledge of strong judges walking around on the circuit and that you can promote the competition in several corners of Europe. To that end, being someone who can be a strong representative of a (couple of) debating circuits means that you will be a vital asset to the EUDC-CA team.

I further support the idea that the CA-team should be comprised of not more than 6 persons. While it would be ideal in terms of representation to have a CA from every country with a strong debating tradition, it would hurt the day-to-day functioning of the CA-team. That means that we have to make choices on how to best represent the European debating circuit with a limited pool of people, and 4 seems like a reasonable amount. Within the options that you have presented to us, my initial ranking would be B(3 regions) > C(no regions) > A(4 regions). Let me explain the reasons for this as follows:

I feel “C” is the worst option as it uses the stark and rather arbitrarily defined regions of the EUDC constitution as guiding principles. These regions are particularly unsuitable as they don’t recognize the comparative variety and strength of the circuits that are within the regions. Particularly the West and Northern Europe region tries to represent the strong circuits of The Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltics and the rising scene in Portugal, as well as France.
If you contrast this to the other two continental regions, they comprise a similar amount of strong competitions, with most notably the Balkans, Israel and the Turkish debating circuit.
System “A” would therefore make it more difficult to represent some debating circuits than others.
As an aside, IONA is a region that should be represented, as it comprimes a lot of the funded judges at recent EUDC, and Ireland and the UK (which can, arguably, be divided into a southern and a northern debating scene owing to the strength and diversity of both scenes) are the circuits with one of the highest amount of participants at the competition.

So given this problem with the regions as it is, it may seem tempting to choose for option C, and give the CA-team a free range. I do think, however, that with the method that we are divising we can give a strong message as the entire community how we think the CA-team should choose. So if we agree that there is some logic behind dividing Europe in a certain way, it would seem odd that we would choose for option C and not give them the direct suggestions what we want.

I think that option B offers the best of both worlds. It divides Europe in three regions that have a similar size and strength in the competition, mitigating the imbalance within the EUDC regions. These regions also are relatively easy to traverse for various prospective (D)CAs, and therefore there is a good reason to suggest that these people can collect information about the various judges and speakers debating at the circuit.
Moreover, offering one free slot that the CA-team can decide solely within their criteria, would give the selectors the option of representing one of the circuits that is doing particularly well (so it could, for instance, choose to select a CA from Serbia as “regional representive” and from Israel as the best applicant came from Israel, or more information about that debating circuit is needed within the CA-team).
More than that, this slot can be used to offset any other bias that may have crept into the team and that we may feel important to address (such as gender equity or varied academic backgrounds).

Sam BlockGeplaatst op12:28 pm - apr 19, 2013

It doesn’t matter where people are from: it matters how well they can do the job. Knowledge of circuits is one (massively overrated) factor in doing the job well. You can accrue knowledge through many means – one is being from a country; but another (particularly in Europe) is simply having travelled & gained expertise. Recognise also that we’re only really talking about knowledge of the best judges from a region. The ability to distinguish who’s merely unbreakworthy from who’s catastrophically bad is of deeply limited value.

More pertinently, though, knowing individual judges just isn’t the main point of a CA team at a major international. Even in terms of ranking judges, expertise at designing judging tests, feedback systems and so on is simply more determinative of a good result. The actual work CA teams are involved in is (should be) much more about dealing with big cohorts of people and sifting data than tweaking individuals. Add to that motion setting, judging, running briefings etc, and ‘knowing the good judges in England personally’ suddenly seems a relatively small factor. I imagine you could disagree with elements of this – but most people would probably concede that circuit-knowledge is one factor among many.

Add to this the fact that you’re dealing with a small pool of vaguely qualified applicants – characteristically 2-3 from each ‘region’ at Worlds, potentially fewer at Euros. You seriously constrain your choice if you pledge regional representation. That’s a bad idea.

You also massively misconstrue what CA teams are meant to do – the idea that someone’s meant to be there ‘representing’ a region implies that they’re meant to be there looking out for their interests. That’s a terrible idea, and not one anyone would explicitly endorse. But it does get quietly encoded by the idea of regional representation.

So – my answer: don’t aim for regional representation – aim for knowledge and aptitude, just as you would in any other job-role. It is the only rational way to approach this.

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