By: Tyler Steels
The changes in the Chicago Debate League (CDL) have disappointed me personally as a debater, a judge, and a coach. I have a high caliber of how and who my novice should debate against, and the standard has been lowered by the CDL.
They claim that the reason for change was to accommodate the debaters, coaches and judges for location, so it’s easier and cheaper for travel, but I personally feel it was an act of segregation of people of color and white people. I feel that the new dividing of schools is another form of redlining under the guise of being resourcing.
In the new conferences, being Regional Circuit Conference (RCC), Blue, White, and Red, the schools are no longer separated by experience, rankings, and resources that the schools have available, but instead by location.
Thus, the schools that might of been in higher ranks that had to travel farther to debate are now traveling to schools that are closer. For example, Lindblom who was in the Local Circuit Conference, which was the the ranking after the top of RCC is now White conference, the name couldn’t be more wrong.
The white conference is now composed of schools that were in a lower ranking of A, which are new but more experienced debaters going against schools that are established debaters. This is messed up because not only is it easy wins for schools who are more established but also because the less experienced are losing regularly because they haven’t fully grasped debate as the previous LCC schools have.
I have witnessed the defeated look that students have shown because they have never won anything because they are going against people out of their ranking. I also feel that my students specifically, haven’t experienced a debate against a real challenge, so they become bored, cocky, and disinterested.
The other conferences that are northern are also predominantly white, well resourced, and they are separated from learning and going against arguments that are majorly ran by students of color. It also takes away the opportunity for my students to go against and experience different arguments that unique to white debater.
The CDL and these changes are frustrating in the least, and I hope this trial run is only a trial and not the future of debate.