Open CA application should be the norm

doorMascha Bloemer

Open CA application should be the norm

By Srdjan Miletic

CA’s are usually chosen based on who the conveners know. I’ve always thought that closed CA selection gives worse CA’s chosen less based on ability than on popularity.  That’s why for Maastricht Open 2015 we opened CA applications to anyone willing to fill in our online form. The result was a world class CA team and fantastic motions.

Why open CA application is great.

The simplest reason for an open application process it that it gives more candidates as both those the conveners approach personally and convince to apply as well as others who apply of their own volition can be chosen from. Another reason is that it minimizes the impact of personal biases on choosing CA’s, a problem I think is widespread. I don’t mean so much racial or gender bias but rather reputation bias, where people with better connections, more exposure or from more respected institutions are given undue preference.

How to run an open CA application?

The application process used for Maastricht Open was simple and should work for most tournaments. We:

  1. Created a google form asking prospective applicants for their personal details, required travel funding (preferred and minimum), judging experience, speaking experience, other experience and a final question asking them what makes them a great CA.
  2. Posted the form online in debating facebook groups with an explanation of what Mass Open was and why it would be awesome, advertised Maas open and how to apply to CA at tournaments we went to.
  3. Once the application deadline had passed, weighed up the applicants based on their debating CV’s and required funding.

Non-Issues

Running open applications isn’t difficult or time consuming. The only objections I’ve heard deal with the selection processes rather than with anything inherit to open applications. While we chose our CA’s based on ability, it would have been equally possible to select based on reputation, gender/race, development potential, ability to bring judges or any other criteria imaginable.

Stylistically necessary conclusion

When firms look for employees, they cast their nets as widely as possible, making available positions public and applications as open as is practical. We expect the same of virtually all areas of society. I don’t see why the same shouldn’t apply to debating.
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Mascha Bloemer subscriber