2013-2014 Elections Candidate Statements

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President

David Israel

Hi APDA,

My name is David Israel, and I am a junior at Johns Hopkins running to be APDA President. I have previously served APDA as a Novice Mentor during my sophomore year, and I am currently APDA's Vice President for Finance. Additionally, I have been significantly involved in the Hopkins team, first as Tournament Director and now as Vice President. Combined with my constant presence on the league, attending tournaments every weekend, I believe I have the capabilities as well as the dedication necessary to improve APDA as President.

The primary duty of APDA President is administration. While there are other duties which are equally necessary, such as representing the league as a whole and promoting policy changes, the administration of APDA as an entity is a role that is unique to the President. The previous positions that I've held within APDA and my commitment to the Hopkins team both demonstrate my capacity for accomplishing this objective. As VP Finance, I have completed all of the various task that are expected of me, including filing APDA's tax status with the IRS, writing up the financial section of the Annual Report, working with approximately a dozen expansion schools to grant them dues waivers and assist with their finances, and collecting dues from the remainder of the APDA body. Similarly, as a Novice Mentor I organized 3 demonstration rounds (Hopkins, Columbia, and Swat Novice), 1 novice clinic (Swat Novice), and a forum on mentorship at AU ProAms with the Women's Initiative. Finally, as the Vice President of the Hopkins team I have handled all of our teams interactions with the administration, transportation arrangements, and tournament payments.

The administrative duties of the APDA President, however, are more than simply completing a list of tasks. The President is also responsible for overseeing other members of the Board and all of the committees. This year, in addition to the responsibilities I outlined above as VP Finance, I oversaw the Novice Mentor committee, aiding them in setting up demonstration rounds and providing advice as necessary as someone who had worked as a Novice Mentor in the past. Although this specific instance of oversight is just a part of what I would do as President, it still serves to demonstrate my capabilities. Additionally, when I started as Vice-President of the Hopkins team, I was the only one who had significant experience with any of the tasks vital to the functioning of the team. Throughout this year, however, I have successfully expanded the administrative capabilities of our team by training younger members to take over these day-to-day tasks. Not only is this indicative of my potential as President, but this also means I will have even more time to dedicate to the league next year.

A successful President must go beyond simply carrying out what I've described above. They must also find new and innovative ways of accomplishing these tasks while also bettering the league outside of this established framework. As a member of this year's board, I am in an ideal position to continue with many of the initiatives we've begun this year. I plan on continuing to pursue corporate sponsorships for APDA tournaments, as Josh had done. Not only would this provide revenue for the league, but it will also enhance our reputation in the eyes of school administrations, an effect which is vital for new schools seeking funding. I will also pursue partnerships with transportation providers (such as Amtrak), with the hope of gaining benefits for APDA teams. My experience as VP Finance this year will prove invaluable in these pursuits, as will my time writing business plans and grant proposals for student groups at Hopkins. Furthermore, I will seek to improve oversight of committees. The addition of monthly forum updates has helped significantly, as has designated contacts for each committee on the board, but actions (or lack thereof) by committees can still go undetected. As President, I will interact more directly with the committees themselves, while making sure that board contacts check in with their committees on a more frequent basis.

In terms of major league issues, three are generally cited: equity, expansion, and novice retention. I believe I have successful track records in all three areas, and I will bring to bear that success as President. Within equity, I have dealt with issues of gender equality on my own team over the past two years. By focusing on making the team an overall friendlier environment and being proactive with regard to any issues faced by female members of our team, Hopkins' has had significantly better female novice retention in the past two years than before. While the board and the EOFs role in dealing with similar issues within teams is limited, as President I would be able to advise teams who are in such situations in an informal capacity, drawing on my own experiences. I also plan on coordinating sexual assault workshops at multiple tournaments next year, revitalizing the code of conduct to make it both more relevant and more visible, and ensuring that EOFs have a proper understanding of the tools at their disposal to deal with equity violations that occur at tournaments. As far as expansion, my role as VP Finance has put me in contact with many expansion schools, discussing their financial situation and assisting them with joining the league. While most of the direct contact with expansion schools falls to the VP Finance and the Expansion Coordinators, I believe my experience in mending ties with the Hopkins administration and securing additional funding for our own team will be invaluable in providing guidance to expansion schools as President.

Finally, with regard to novice retention, my previous role as a Novice Mentor is obviously beneficial. Additionally, my work to improve gender equity on the Hopkins team also coincided with efforts to improve our own novice retention, which have proved to be very successful, with more than half of this year's novice class debating second semester, far better than in previous years. These experiences ensure that I will be able to act as a leader to next year's Novice Mentors. Next year as President I will focus on expanding the reach of the Novice Mentors further into the year. A vast majority of events this year happened early this semester, and while they were quite effective, the pace was not sustained throughout the year. While this is in part due to natural attrition, I think we can do better. By focusing on casing workshops, specialized demonstrations rounds (e.g. a tight call round), and other more advanced events, we can ensure novices remain engaged as the year goes on. If efforts to improve available financial resources through grants, sponsorships, and simply better fiscal management succeed, which they are on track to do as of this year, then we may be able to allocate funding to the Novice Mentors and other committees to host more extensive events.

Thanks for your time, and please contact me if you have any questions by email at disrael4@jhu.edu or by phone at 860-483-0217.

Best, David

Vice President for Operations

Taylor Blackburn

Hi APDA! I'm Taylor Blackburn, and I'm running for VP Operations. I'm currently a Junior at Bates College, and serve on the APDA Board as a Member-at-Large.

I'm running for this position because I want to continue to serve APDA, and believe this position gives me the best opportunity to do so. VP Ops deals primarily with the day to day functioning of APDA; acting as secretary, posting to the forum, and maintaining communication between the Board and APDA's many members. I believe my service on the Board this year has given me ample insight and preparation for the demands of this position. I have strived to be a reliable, efficient, and thoughtful member of the Board this year. I would bring this same commitment to my role as VP Ops.

Beyond the duties specific to VP Operations, there are a number of reasons I'd be excited to continue to serve on the Board writ large. I'm proud of the work the Board has done this year, and would like to continue to oversee such efforts. We've crafted a thoughtful guide to approaching reg breaks, carried out an APDA Census, and formalized two vital committees (Video Task Force and Women's Initiative). We sought to create inclusive and effective committee organizations, and took steps to increase transparency and accountability. We have worked collaboratively to ensure we carry out all the duties many past Boards have failed to complete, such as collecting dues and releasing APDA's annual report.

Next year, I'd like to see the Board continue this good work and expand it to other areas. Expansion has done excellent work this year, but I am still troubled by the persistent obstacles upcoming schools face when entering the league. Finding ways to make joining APDA affordable, accessible, and fun remains an objective I'd like to tackle. I've made myself personally available to expansion schools in the past, but I'd like to create a more rigorous program for helping new teams integrate and succeed. APDA has made incredible progress in regards to representation of women, but there's a lot more to be done. In particular, I'd like to expand our efforts to issues like race and socioeconomic status. I know I'm not the only debater who has peers who have quit the activity due to financial strain - I don't think this is a tradeoff any competitor should have to make. I believe viable solutions exist, but only if we think to ask the right questions.

At the end of the day, the Board only exists to facilitate the will of the APDA body. APDA Board is not (and absolutely should not be) a place where an elected few dictate their views to the league. As such, I think the most important traits for a Board member are reliability, approachability, fair-mindedness, and a dedication to equity. I believe I have exhibited these traits as a Member-at-Large, and if elected, I promise to embody these qualities as VP Ops as well. I'm happy to answer questions about my candidacy at any time, so please don't hesitate to contact me on Facebook or via email (tblackbu@bates.edu). Thanks very much!

Vice President for Finance

Nate Rifkin

Hi APDA,

For those of you I haven't yet met, my name is Nate Rifkin. I am a current junior at Middlebury College running for APDA's VP of Finance. Fundamentally, I'm running for the APDA board to try and ensure that the board fairly represents the interests of smaller schools.

Unlike any other candidate for the board this year, indeed, unlike every candidate for the board since I've been on the circuit, I come from a school without a historical COTY presence. From my second tournament freshman year, I was Middlebury's most experienced debater. I understand from first-hand experience the difficulties in joining the league and the even greater difficulties in sticking around in a way that no other candidate for the board does. I worked tirelessly as an Expansion Coordinator last year and as the Chief Expansion Coordinator this year to try and help as many new schools as I could overcome these obstacles. Should I be elected, all of my decisions on the board will be made with the aim of creating the most inclusive and expansive league possible so that as many people can have the same incredible experience that APDA has given me.

I think my proven track record with administrative issues positions me well to succeed as the next VP of Finance. First, having served as Middlebury's President sophomore year, Captain this year, and TD all three years I've been on the team, I've been responsible for managing team affairs; securing transportation, budgeting, planning and running practices, heading up novice recruitment, coordinating and running our tournament, and improving relations with our administration. The team has never been larger or more active since I've come to Middlebury. Additionally, this past year as Chief Expansion Coordinator, I was responsible for planning regular meetings, making sure members of my committee fulfilled their committee requirements, and, most importantly, working with individual expansion schools. I worked in some capacity with about one expansion school a week. In addition, I've spent the past year and a half working to promote collaboration between NESCAC schools in the form of a yearly tournament to be held after Nats at Hamilton College. I have also spearheaded the committee's Reg Break Advocate system, contacting tournaments each week, obtaining a list of new teams attending, and reaching out to each Expansion School to make sure they're prepared for the weekend and aware that the Expansion Committee can advocate on their behalf. I strongly believe that I will be able to handle the day-to-day administrative tasks of the VP Finance position.

The board can also play an important role in setting culture. In addition to serving as an EOF my sophomore year, I am a regular presence both at WI meetings and Equity Forums. I do think that we can do more to try and shape a positive culture. We should, for example, communicate clear norms at the start of the season. We have a great opportunity at large tournaments early in the fall to set the tone for the year through Equity Forums and by emphasizing APDA's Code of Conduct. We should do more to take advantage of the opportunities these early season tournaments offer.

I am tremendously grateful for all that APDA has given me these past few years and I hope I get the opportunity to give back as APDA's VP Finance. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out to me by email or Facebook.

Nate Rifkin nrifkin@middlebury.edu

Alex Mechanick

Hey APDA,

I'm Alex Mechanick, and I am running for VP Finance. I am currently President of the Brown Debating Union, a member of the APDA Women's Initiative Committee, and a member of the APDA Video Task Force Committee. Last year I served as VP for Recruitment and Training on Brown. As a deeply involved member of APDA I have consistently been engaged in trying to improve the circuit, and I would be honored as VP Finance to do even more to make APDA a better place.

The VP Finance must be on task and responsible. There are several crucial and detail-oriented tasks that the position is entrusted with; failing to file proper paperwork could entail large fines and legal issues for the league. My experience working on the financial side of a political campaign has more than prepared me for this aspect of the job. I had to make sure all contribution and expenditure data for a congressional campaign was submitted in a manner acceptable to the FEC; in comparison, my duties for APDA will not be nearly as much of a challenge. Also my academics, especially my work in finance classes, has prepared me for the financial side of the job. I have managed the finances for two other clubs at Brown University, and am currently co-managing the Brown team's finances as President.

The VP Finance has an important role in league finances and expansion. I think Josh and David did a fantastic job creating a guide to team fundraising and other materials that have helped schools grow and bring expansion schools onto the circuit. As VP Finance, I will create a system of regularly checking in with all expansion teams and teams experiencing financial difficulty, so that each school has an individual meeting with me once a semester. Reaching out is often the most important element in making sure teams succeed; those on teams that are struggling generally lack the personal connections with members of the board that prevents the mistakes that can ruin team's finances. I also will pursue new funding opportunities through grants and continue to pursue even more cost savings, building on the success of David and Josh. This, in combination with perhaps a moderate increase in dues, could put APDA in a position for the first time to actually do something about teams that are struggling financially. But without an active and engaged VP finance APDA will continue to fail to accomplish its goals of expansion and league growth.

While the VP Finance has specific responsibilities, there are also issues that are important to every member of the board. I am particularly sensitive to issues of equity, and will strive to strike a much more aggressive stance towards doing all the board can without incurring legal liability. I have been an active member of Women's Initiative, running several tournament meetings and being second after Jean to set up a hybrid through the program. As a member of the board I would strive to do everything possible to advance equity on the league, and would coordinate with the EOFs and Women's Initiative to that end. Board involvement can ensure projects that have already begun, such as gender-equitable calibration rounds or trigger warnings, are built upon and expanded. And while I am glad the league has done increasingly more to address issues of sexism, more needs to be done with respect to other forms of discrimination, including classism and especially racism. Even just forming a task force to suggest recommendations specific to reducing racism on the league would be a step forward on an issue that has been systematically ignored.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or suggestions: you can reach me at alexander_mechanick@brown.edu or by phone at (610) 755-2839. I would be happy to talk about how I could be helpful to your team or APDA as a whole. Thanks!

Best, Alex

Member at Large

Michael Norton

I'm Michael Norton and I'm running for the Member at Large position on the APDA Board. I'm currently a sophomore at Brandeis University, served as Brandeis' 2013 Tournament Director, and serve on the APDA novice mentor committee. I've chosen to run because debate has been, and continues to be, a transformative experience for me. I want to serve on the board not only to give back to such a tremendous activity, but also to ensure that APDA, as an organization, is both fair and equitable in providing access to debate.

Personally, I feel up to the task of Member at Large for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I have extensive experience with administering debate. With little funding or assistance, I helped transform my high school debate team from being barely existent to be state champions four years running. I've worked as an instructor and advisor at debate summer camps and I'm a managing editor at Champion Briefs, a debate publishing company. In college, I've served as Novice Mentor, a role I've embraced as a professional debate educator. As a Novice Mentor, I've helped coordinate demo rounds, but I've also led multiple Novice Mentor workshops at both Brown and Northeastern. I feel very prepared to correspond with the APDA Board as frequently as is needed after so many years coordinating in the past. Secondly, I'm very involved with the league. I've attended around 40 debate tournaments in the past two years, and I'm connected with debaters both northern and southern. I've also devoted my time to helping novice debaters from several expansion schools, including UNC and UPenn, establish a presence not only on APDA, but also on campus and with their administrations by continually coordinating with them after hybriding. I've been in attendance at almost all APDA Meetings, Womens' Initiative meetings, Demo Rounds, and other APDA functions, so I'm aware of the league's most current concerns.

The role of the Member at Large position, and the overall mission of the APDA Board, is to complete administrative tasks to serve the league. This entails tasks like debating over the merits of tournament bids, appointing tab observers, overseeing committees, and other administrative jobs. Within the constraints of the Member at Large position, there are a number of issues I'd seek to address. For instance, I'd press for more coordination between committees. I'd like to see committees engaging with one another, and discussing intersectional problems to get the best possible solutions. For example, I'd support the coordination of equity workshops at novice tournaments between the EOFs and the Novice Mentors. In addition, I intend to maintain a close connection with the Novice Mentor committee. As we've seen this year (see: Zach Bakal and the VTF), being on APDA Board does not limit involvement with the committees, and I'd be happy to help the committee in future years. Concerning the scheduling process, I'd like to see less preference given to tournaments based on historically holding a tournament on a certain weekend. When we as a league reward teams that fail to conform to equity norms, tournament quality norms, or even their own tab packet, we create a moral hazard that discourages teams from taking a more proactive stance toward improving their tournament. This can also be addressed through a tournament-directing guide, something I'd be thrilled to write as a Member at Large. I directed Brandeis' tournament this year, and have been involved in the running of four large tournaments during my tenure on APDA; I therefore feel very comfortable helping others to coordinate a tournament. Ideally, this guide would cover issues that are fundamental, but place additional weight on aspects of tournament directing that should be standardized on APDA (ex: parking, banquets), or that expansion schools are less likely to be aware of (tab policy considerations like quarter points and scratches). I also intend to include a registry of dinos or other APDA affiliates that would be willing to respond to questions about tournament direction, making the process much easier for smaller, less established teams. The active distribution of resources like these is essential to helping teams that are still building institutional knowledge on tournament issues.

While the Member at Large position is not directly in charge of the culture of APDA, as a member of the Board, I'd do whatever I could to shift certain norms on the circuit. Unfortunately, I can't mandate that every tournament provide services I support like same-gender housing that would help keep APDA a safe space, but I can give preference to teams whose tournament directors have historically gone out of their way to make their tournament a comfortable environment for everybody, and committee applicants who have demonstrated a dedication to a more equal APDA. I would also stand behind efforts to inform schools that are less involved on the circuit of new practices that are being successfully implemented so that the information asymmetry that is often responsible for lack of progress disappears. The APDA Board can't instantaneously change league culture, but it can set a tone and provide guidelines for teams and individuals within the league, something I feel prepared to do.

In conclusion, I'm thrilled to run for APDA Board, and would love to represent you all. I can be reached with questions, comments, concerns, or even mere suggestions about my platform on Facebook, or via email at mnorton@brandeis.edu.

Nathaniel Donahue

Hey APDA,

My name is Nathaniel Donahue, and I'm running for Member at Large. I'm currently the President of the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society (HSPDS). Since freshman year, APDA has been a second home for me, offering me a place to meet awesome people who like to talk about interesting things. The people I have met on APDA are some of my closest friends, and are the reason that I debate every weekend. Because APDA has been such an important part of my collegiate life, I would be honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the community and leave APDA a little better than I found it.

To that end, I believe my experience on HSPDS will offer me valuable insight into how to strengthen our community. As president, I have led efforts on our team to combat lingering issues of gender inequality, putting in place a series of programs that have already been profoundly helpful in retaining female debaters and increasing female participation rates. As tournament director, I went out of my way to seek out expansion school teams that had not registered and could not pay. In fact, the discussions we had about how to increase expansion outreach were directly responsible for the subsequent push for a reg break advocate on the expansion committee. Because of my efforts, our tournament hit its cap for the first time in recent memory, with a larger proportion of expansion schools than ever before. Additionally, I made sure that future Harvard tournaments will provide sexual assault prevention workshops run by trained professionals. I think my experience noticing problems and working with the tools at my disposal to fix them would be an important contribution to the APDA board.

Ultimately, the MAL position is built for people with a clear idea of what they want to do and the force of will to get it done. I have a few proposals that I not only believe will improve APDA, but with which I have experience and proven dedication.

First, I want to make it easier for less established programs to contact dinos. Over three years of debating, I have been to a lot of tournaments with a highly variant dino pool. One thing I have noticed is that schools that are more established on the league tend to draw more dinos and wind up with a much deeper judging pool. While this disparity is to a certain extent unavoidable, most of it seems to come from two factors: lack of information and lack of institutional connection. I think this disparity is something that is easy to solve. As MAL, I would create a centralized, opt-in database that would allow dinos who know that they want to judge during the year to distribute their information to schools that are trying to expand their judging pool. I would also offer to contact dinos on behalf of these schools if need be in order to put the institutional legitimacy of APDA to work for teams who may have a harder time contacting them. I would also like to offer judges and teams a better experience by publishing a series of best practices for judge calibration.

I also think there is room for us to improve as a league in regard to equity. While we have come a long way in the last few years, we nonetheless have a ways to go. One of the best ways to address these problems is information. Were I on the board, I would work with the EOFs to create a sticky at the top of the general forum that would allow them to address recurring issues. While this forum would obviously not single out any individual, it might include common types of complaints, or unacceptable forms of behavior. This information would help good-meaning people avoid hurting each other and would send a strong statement that APDA stands for equity. In the past, APDA has had a Code of Conduct that has served a similar function, but it has since fallen into disuse. If elected MAL, I would be willing to spearhead the effort to bring it back, as it could serve as the foundation for this broader project. Additionally, I would love to coordinate a series of sexual assault prevention and equity workshops between tournaments. If teams can pool their resources and coordinate their efforts, they can do a lot to inculcate norms of respect and tolerance on the circuit. Some tournaments have already taken the initiative on this effort, but greater cooperation and participation can only help these efforts.

Thank you so much for your consideration. It would be an honor and a privilege to be able to give back to the community that has given me so much. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at nwdonahue@gmail.com, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks, Nathaniel Donahue

Jodie Goodman

Hey APDA,

My name is Jodie Goodman and I'm running for Member at Large. I am currently a sophomore at Swarthmore College, serving as the president of the Amos J. Peaslee Debate Society. I have been extremely involved in debate over the past two years and I would love the opportunity to pay forward some of what the league has done for me. After all of the support I received my novice year, I was selected to become a Novice Mentor this year, and have happily given advice and friendship to novices across the league. After a successful sophomore year, I am ready to extend my contribution to the league.

The most important agenda item that I want to advance is a focus on what APDA calls "equity". In fact, my concern with equity and representation on the league is the main reason I am running for this board position. I believe that APDA pays lip service to equity often without backing up this commitment with substantial policy changes. That is not to say that there are not some individuals who have contributed greatly to the improvement of equality on the league, but rather that the voice for equity needs more institutional power.

Although a trend of adding trigger warnings to cases has begun among a few debaters, I want to regulate and enforce trigger warning norms across the league. I want all debaters to feel safe at social events. To this end I support bringing in an expert to speak about sexual assault and abuse prevention. In fact, Swarthmore's novice tournament and the comparable northern tournaments draw so much of the league together that they would make an excellent venue for such an event. I also want equity officers at individual tournaments to have coordinated expectations for how equity should be administered. A training or certification process for equity officers would be helpful for the league.

I also believe that cultivating a respected and valued novice class is crucial for not only the continuation of equitable behavior, but also for the sustainability of APDA as an organization. I believe that pro-am novice hybrids are a great way to integrate novices into the league. They also greatly help expansion schools and smaller programs to develop successful debaters who find a place in our community more quickly than they otherwise would be able to. I look forward to hybriding with a novice from Hamilton later on in the semester to help achieve these goals.

Lastly, one of the enumerated roles of Members at Large is to coordinate with schools running novice tournaments at the beginning of the year. As the current president of such a school, I would have a clear logistical advantage in not only liaising between Swarthmore and the Executive Board, but also in explaining the institutional support needed to run such a tournament so that the process can be as streamlined as possible.

As a Member at Large of the APDA Board I will dedicate myself to furthering the causes of equity, novice retention, and sustainable expansion across the league.

Priyanha Nadanasabesan

Hi APDA,

My name is Priyanha Nadanasabesan and I am running for Member-At-Large. I am a junior at the George Washington University. I have been a member of the GWPDS executive board since my second semester of freshman year, and I am currently an Equal Opportunity Facilitator and a member of the Women's Initiative Committee. My first exposure to debate was my freshman year of college, when I joined GWPDS. I quickly became very committed and soon was going to tournaments every weekend. I am very passionate about debate, which is why I cared deeply about making APDA a positive space for anyone who wants to get involved. I am running for this position because I believe I will be able to help make this league the most inclusive environment it can be.

Through both my personal interactions on the league and my experiences as a member of the Equity and Women's Initiative committees I have been exposed to a variety of perspectives regarding the league. This has given me a deeper understanding of the current structures of the league and the ways in which people wish to see the league move forward.

Through being a member of the Equity Committee I have dealt with and been exposed to several situations that have made me understand the different avenues available for both the APDA board and the committees to pursue action. I believe that knowing both the strengths and weaknesses of the structure of APDA is uniquely important for someone who running for the board.. The league has very thorough materials explaining the functions of the board and the committees, but steps need to be taken to make sure these materials are fully communicated. I believe it is important for individuals who have previously been a part of the committees to participate in a training workshop with future members of the committee. This will allow for a clear line of communication that would foster a smoother path for the committees and the board to grow and. Helping everyone have a clear understanding from the beginning will allow for the most effective responses to be generated when dealing with a variety of circumstances.

While my experience thus far has concentrated on both the equity committee and the women's initiative committee I have learned a tremendous amount from the friends I've made on the league and the conversations I've had. This league has continuously exposed me to brilliant people and kind people who are all very passionate about this activity and APDA. This connected me to a variety of important areas on the league such as novice retention and fostering a more supportive environment for expansion schools. I have been and will continue to be extremely willing to engage with all individuals in order to help facilitate an environment where everyone is able to have their voice heard and have the most positive interactions with the league.

If you have any specific questions please feel free to e-mail me at priyanha@gwmail.gwu.edu or call me at 781-467-9038. Thank you for considering me for this position.

Aaron Murphy

Hi APDA,

My name is Aaron Murphy and I am running for Member at Large of APDA. I am a junior at the College of William and Mary and I currently serve my own team as the Vice President of Education and as a novice mentor.

I am running for a position on the APDA board because I believe being on the board is the best way to try to make the league a better place. The way to make APDA better is to create a safe, welcoming space for everyone and help small schools transition into being more competitive teams. I believe that programs like the Novice Mentorship Committee, the WI, and the Equity Program are critical to accomplishing these goals. That is why I have supported them by attending their respective meetings at every tournament I've attended.

On my own team, I have worked to maintain an environment which is as welcoming to people as possible. William and Mary has not suffered from many equity problems; however, in spite of this, I have remained proactive to ensure that we do not encounter any in the future. I have created a board position to deal with novice mentorship and a committee that continually elicits feedback from team members in order to resolve potential issues with equity before they emerge. I believe I can use this sort of creativity and proactive attention to detail, in conjunction with my own unique perspective as an African American debater on the league, to help highlight problems that we as a circuit still face.

Helping small schools progress is important because over time this is the best way to increase both the competitiveness of the circuit, and offer the opportunity to participate in parliamentary debate to as many people as possible. Because of my experiences on a small team balancing budgets, organizing fundraising, and facilitating recruiting, I feel uniquely qualified to understand the problems that small clubs face and help them overcome them. One simple way to help small schools that I believe could be facilitated almost immediately is organizing carpooling to tournaments. Carpooling has been one of the main ways our team has been able to keep competing on a small budget and I think it would be easy to help smaller clubs access the social networks to take advantage of carpool opportunities.

I understand that improving the circuit will require a significant amount of energy and that improving the league is more important than giving back to any one team. For that reason I will not hold a leadership position on the WM team next year. I will be entirely focused on giving back to the circuit as a whole.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me on facebook or by email at ahmurphy@email.wm.edu.

Aaron Murphy