Minutes from NDCA Board Meeting on 4/14/2018

NDCA Board Meeting – April 14, 2018.

Meeting called to order by Shunta Jordan at 11:05AM.


Members Present

Shunta Jordan

Sheryl Kaczmarek

Shane Stafford

Christina Tallungan

Aaron Timmons

Adam Torson

Dave Weston

Ed Williams



I.                 Award Ceremony Roles

a.      Dave outlined the awards ceremony and assigned different Board members roles during the ceremony.


II.                NDCA Conference

a.      Christina talked through the current panel schedule and the Board discussed possible tweaks and additional panel participants.

                                                    i.     The sense of the Board is that more panelists are needed for the tournament practices, disabilities, and summer camps panels.

                                                   ii.     Shane is going to reach out to Chris McDonald, Byron Arthur, and Martin Zakaria about possibly participating in the Future of Public Forum panel.

                                                  iii.     Christina has not heard back from Marquis on the Racial Pathologies panel. She is going to reach out to Eli Smith and Chris Randall.

b.      The Board discussed how to structure the Summer Camps Panel. The sense of the Board is that we want to have a true discussion about best practices for camp rather than just an advertisement for the participants’ camps.

                                                    i.     The sense of the Board is that we should collect questions from coaches before and during the discussion, and have a moderator determine what questions to pose and when.

                                                   ii.     We created a shared Google document to brainstorm questions, which will be shared with the panelists before the conference. Some potential topics include camp structure (how many labs, lab leaders, instructor/student ratio, camp length, etc.), camp costs, instructor hiring practices, etc.

c.      The Board expressed the desire to live-stream the panels again. Christina will reach out to Bietz to see if he will help us execute that again. If Bietz is unable to help this year, Dave will reach out to people in his media department to see if he can secure the appropriate resources.

d.      Christina reported that she is in the process of finalizing the Reagan Great Communicator sponsorship.

e.      The Board discussed whether we want to have a reception at the Conference paid for by the organization as we have in past years. The sense of the Board is that because our hotel has a bar and restaurant in the lobby, the better option for welcoming new members is to schedule a pre-dinner reception in the bar area which the Board will attend to welcome new attendees, but not to provide food as we have in years past.


III.              Harassment Policy

a.      Shunta expressed the importance of the NDCA adopting a policy or statement about sexual harassment and other forms of harassment, and the desire to have such a policy in place by August.

b.      The Board discussed the potential content of such a policy, with a particular focus on whether it should include enforceable procedures to be adopted at the NDCA tournament.

                                                    i.     The Board acknowledged the challenge of needing to respond meaningfully to accusations of harassment while also having limited time and resources to investigate such accusations and a tournament and the challenge of adapting to the school policies and state laws of our rotating slate of tournament hosts.

                                                   ii.     The Board recognized the value of using school policies as a model, and will draw upon different school codes and the World Schools organization’s document in attempting to craft a policy.

                                                  iii.     The Board additionally recognized the value of principals and participants acknowledging a code of conduct before the tournament so that the tournament (perhaps our current tournament officials or an ombudsman) can more readily take action on violations of the policy without making a legal determination about sexual harassment or other problematic conduct.

                                                  iv.     Shunta and Adam will continue work in trying to craft a preliminary policy for the Board to consider.


IV.              NDCA Novice Packet

a.      Shunta reported that several people have expressed interest in being hired to help produce the novice policy packet for the coming season. The sense of the Board is that we should hire the people we hired last year absent a compelling reason to make a change and spend more money.


V.               NDCA Tournament Sponsorship

a.      The Board discussed whether we want to allow camp sponsorships of the NDCA tournament, and if so how they should be administered (e.g. should there be a process where any camp can buy a table to distribute their literature, etc.).

                                                    i.     The Board expressed the need to balance securing the financial viability of the tournament with the desire to avoid excessive commercialization of the tournament and to avoid creating the perception of inappropriate conflicts of interest.

                                                   ii.     The Board expressed a general preference to secure more sponsorships for the Conference so that it could subsidize the tournament rather than the other way around.

b.      The Board considered the possibility of non-camp sponsorships as a way to avoid the pitfalls of camp sponsorships but also attempt to provide more financial support for the tournament.

                                                    i.     Ideas for such sponsorships included discussion of a college fair in which college programs could provide information about their programs to prospective students. Dave suggested that we might be able to trade a table at such a fair for judging rounds from college program directors or coaches, which may help hold down our hired judge costs.

                                                   ii.     The Board adopted 8-0 that the tournament liason may explore non-camp sponsorships for the NDCA tournament, subject to the approval of the Board.


VI.              NDCA Point Formula (Tim Mahoney joined us for this discussion)

a.      The sense of the Board is that under the current NDCA Points Formula (used for tournament qualification and awarding our season-long student awards) has two primary deficiencies: It overweights preliminary rounds relative to elimination rounds, and using number of states in attendance as a proxy for regional diversity creates uneven results between regions with large states and small states.

                                                    i.     The Board discussed whether the season long awards should give greater weight to elimination rounds versus strong preliminary round performances. The sense of the Board was that this question turned partially on whether the season long award should place greater value on performances in individual debates versus having strong tournaments. The sense of the Board is that the latter should be given more weight, because elimination rounds have higher stakes and are judged by panels rather than individuals, and because tournament performance captures a variety of intangible variables we want to reward (such as mental toughness and tournament strategy).

b.      Several proposals for reforming the formula were proposed.

                                                    i.     Val MacIntosh proposed changes to the existing multipliers in our formula, and included quite a bit of data showing this would effectively address the concern about preliminary round weighting.

                                                   ii.     Chris Theis proposed a significant change to our underlying formula. In particular, the Board liked the suggestion of using either number of schools or the schools to entries ratio as a proxy for diversity rather than states in attendance.

1.      In addition, using teams as a proxy for diversity helps to decrease the extent to which only large, octofinals bids tournaments can receive the maximum diversity multiplier. Sheryl expressed that this was inconsistent with our goal of promoting local debate.

c.      Shunta is going to ask for help computing how these proposed changes to the formula would have affected past year’s results, and the Board will return to the discussion in light of what those experiments reveal.


VII.            Promoting the NDCA Tournament

a.      The Board reaffirmed the importance of what the NDCA tournament offers to the debate community. The Board discussed several ideas for promoting attendance. These included notifying teams and school administrations when people qualify to the tournament, recognizing the top five or ten teams in the season-long awards, and limiting our tournament rotation so that it always takes place in easily accessible venues.

b.      The Board recognized that one impediment to implementing our ideas to improve what we can offer is our reliance on volunteers and the limited time we each have to devote to additional responsibilities.


Meeting adjourned at approximately 2:30pm.