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lexdevil

Julia Burke Award Nomination Deadline April 8th

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The Julia Burke Award to recognizes the high school policy debater who most closely upholds the combination of characteristics that Julia displayed in her love for the activity. These qualities include excellence in and passion for debate, a commitment to helping others, love and respect for the policy debate community and dedication to maintaining friendships despite the pressures of competition.

 

To be honest, even though I definantly feel that national circuit debate is extremely elitist, I feel like the Julia Burke award recognizes one who is not elite - a person who is kind, generous, etc. The more people on the national circuit display these attributes, the more the notion that the national circuit is "elitist" or only for the privileged goes away. I think that limiting it to the ToC tournament seems like the best option logistically (at one tournament, fewer people), and it centers around the right community that probably needs this award. All the arguments about why the national circuit is elitist and only for the proveleged prove this entirely.

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So is your advocacy that the Julia Burke Award should be given at NFL Nationals to a debater who qualifies for that tournament?

I'm not trying to tell other people how to give out recognition, but yes, if the pool of eligible students were expanded to include NFL qualifiers, that would address the economic discrimination problems I brought up. But that's not to say that adding NFL to the pool is the exclusive or a necessary solution.

 

Or that it should be connected to no tournament at all and be open to any Policy debater? Or is even that too elitist? Should receiving the award be open to anyone who participates in any form of debate, from Policy debate to Mock Trial and Model UN? What about those who participate only in classroom debates because they are not privileged enough to attend a school that offers competitive debate. Should receiving the award be open to debaters in other countries, especially those that do not share the United States' extreme economic privilege?
Of course not, now you're just being dense, trying to absurdly extend my clear advocacy beyond the bounds I already stated. There is nothing wrong with rewarding elites, nor is there anything wrong with targeting policy debaters, in fact the award says as much in its statement of purposes. The award is designed to promote four things according to its literature:

 

1. Excellence in and passion for debate,

2. A commitment to helping others,

3. Love and respect for the policy debate community, and

4. dedication to maintaining friendships despite the pressures of competition.

 

Number 3 very clearly states that policy debaters are the targeted group. Targeted awards are fine as long as they acknowledge their exclusivity and the reasons for exclusion are justifiable. None of the four purpose prongs restricts the award's purpose to debaters with financial resources or who regularly compete on the "national circuit." By its statement of principles, the "policy debate community" is the targeted group.

 

Further, while recognizing and rewarding talent and success is fine, none of the four purpose prongs are furthered by arbitrarily dividing the subset of "elite debaters" along financial lines. While it can be fairly reasoned that all TOC qualifiers are elite, it does not follow that all elites are TOC qualifiers. And, if you take a given elite debater with access to travel money compared to an equally-elite debater without substantial money, the former is much more likely to qualify to the TOC, solely because of the difference in money.

 

I realize that there are exceptional outliers; some schools (particularly in the Northeast) are within just a few hours' drive of several TOC bid tournaments and can probably qualify without significantly more expense than a normal season, but there are far more teams around the country that don't have bid tournaments in their state at all (and at least ten states if I recall that don't have any bids in their bordering states either). And there are teams without personal or school largess who are able to raise enough money other ways to make it to bids, but again, they are outliers and do not undercut the validity of what I've said as it applies to the whole policy debate community.

 

I think it's telling that nobody in this thread has tried to argue that the award isn't economically discriminatory. Most of the feedback I've gotten is appeal to emotion, accusing me of disrespecting Julia's memory (and in a place her parents can read it!) but nothing could be farther from the truth. My criticisms have nothing to do with the memorial nature of the award; I would have the same criticisms if the award were not memorial. I would welcome the participation of Burke Foundation directors in this discussion. I can't force the foundation to change anything, nor would I try, but I think dialog could be constructive. Yet, ultimately, if my criticisms of the award's economic discrimination are deeply troubling to any of the foundation's leaders, there is a simple solution -- make the award less economically discriminatory.

 

And, if the Burke Foundation, for whatever reason, intends its award to be discriminatory, that's fine too, just amend the four goals to make clear that the award doesn't seek to recognize the whole "policy debate community."

 

The other major on-point feedback is that I should be attacking the TOC, rather than a prominent TOC-based award, but as I noted above, I think those issues are linked.

 

I've said my piece, if people want to continue this argument, it can go on, but it would be nice if new things were said and if people would stop insisting that I'm being disrespectful to a young girl's memory.

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I've said my piece, if people want to continue this argument, it can go on, but it would be nice if new things were said and if people would stop insisting that I'm being disrespectful to a young girl's memory.

 

Thank you for agreeing to let this rest. Now I'd like to encourage everyone to start nominating people. Every year I hear debaters at the TOC lament that they cannot vote for a particular well loved debater whom they assumed that everyone else would nominate. Don't leave the nomination to someone else; the only way to be certain that someone is nominated is to nominate her yourself.

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