Elections

List of Candidates

Candidates for President
Andrew Harrington (University of Chicago)
Rajul Bothra (Rutgers University)

Candidates for Vice President for Operations
Tanay Patri (Northeastern University)

Candidates for Vice President for Finance
Aditya Ram (University of Chicago)
Tiffany Yuan (Johns Hopkins University)

Candidates for Member-at-Large
Ellie Singer (Yale University)
Anish Welde (University of Pennsylvania)
Taleen Khleifat (George Washington University)
Aba Tieku (College of William & Mary)
Haseeb Waseem (Villanova University)

Candidate Statements

Candidates for President
Andrew Harrington (University of Chicago)
Hey everyone, my name is Andrew Harrington and I am running for APDA President.

In the past two and a half years I have attended 47 APDA tournaments as a competitor and judge. In that time I have had the privilege to serve as a member, chair and now board liaison of the Diversity Initiative, a member of the Video Recording Committee, and a Member-At-Large of the APDA Board. On DI I pushed for Best Practices reforms while also instituting (with the amazing work of the DI committee chairs) affinity groups for the first time on APDA. This has supported other efforts to continue to get a look at what the league’s demographic makeup and how the Board can better support underrepresented groups on it. As a Member-At-Large I have attended every APDA Meeting and helped lead discussions and votes on a range of policies, coordinated amongst teams to facilitate new tournaments and participants from expansion schools and helped facilitate what I hope has been meaningful dialogue when conflicts between societies have come up.

I am running for President of APDA because I want to ensure that everyone who wants to can participate in APDA. But I am also running because, like many people I have felt the league can do so much better for debaters who are struggling to find a place on it. The reason I got involved in APDA’s governing body to begin with wasn’t out of altruism, but because I realized it was one of the few ways to have a voice on the league if you are geographically isolated, from a racial minority, or simply not extremely successful to start with on the league. If I have learned one thing, it is that the APDA Board cannot solve every problem. Racism and sexism, class barriers that keep some teams from competing weekly are all systemic in nature. What the Board can do is ensure that members know about the resources the league has to offer, that tournaments have Tab directors, observers and a well trained judge pool. That is what I can promise to offer the league if elected president – someone who will ensure every team, expansion or well established, has access to APDA’s resources.

The President of APDA’s most important job, and the one delineated in the APDA By-Laws, is to act as the voice of the league; at APDA meetings, in Worlds Council and in general during conflicts which arise amongst societies. Given my past experience on the board during APDA meetings and my near constant contact with all regions of APDA I feel I am qualified for this role.

In addition, I hope to support and continue to support two other initiatives to improve the league: First, I want continue to invest time into improving tournament quality and accessibility. This should include ensuring that tournaments have well trained judges and exploring how the league can standardize judge training for novices and second year debaters. But this should also include ensuring that more people on the league get tabbing experience. One of the biggest issues this year has been only a few debaters on teams have years of tabbing experience, and figuring out how to ensure at least one member of a team knows how to tab will go a long way towards building a pipeline for better run tournaments.

Second, I want to continue to push to reform the by-laws, making it smoother for people to reaffiliate, ensuring that people who take time off can remain members of the societies, and ensuring that teams are not being unduly taxed.

Both of these proposals are common sense, and importantly involve the league as a whole stepping up. It has been an honor to serve the past year as a MAL, and given the chance it would be an honor to serve as your president.

Rajul Bothra (Rutgers University)
Hi, I’m Rajul. You might not know me – I’ve never been in the top ten -oty for anything. But you might know me because I debate almost every weekend, I message way too much in APDuck, and I make trash memes.

I’m running for President because I think I can fulfill what it means to be President.

On the administrative aspect of being President – I am very organized and efficient with my time. I think I have the relevant experience and ability to fulfill any administrative role well. I became Treasurer of RUDU halfway through my novice year, and have been President of RUDU for the past semester. In addition, I’ve previously held executive board roles in other organizations on campus. I know how to balance my time and I am reliable when given responsibility. I’ve read through the bylaws, I think I can fulfill this part of being President well.

I have two specific policy goals right now:
First, I want to do large scale data collection across every tournament to gather data on equity. I plan on doing this through EOF. I think this is the best way to see what issues exist and to see if policies implemented have effects on measurable statistics. For example, collecting information on gender (if people opt in to give this information) and speaker scores to see if there is a statistically significant difference between scores by gender, and then using this to test if equity policies have the desired effects.

Second, I want finances between schools to be a bit easier for everyone. I know some schools have issues with liquidity, and I think knowing what reg will cost in advance would help with budgeting for a lot of schools that have tighter budgets, and would perhaps get processing done earlier for schools so that they aren’t paying for tournaments 3 or 4 months or even a year late. I’d like tournaments to publish reg earlier so that board can maintain a page to show the costs at each tournament. Having more information like this would also help keep schools accountable to try to combat reg inflation.

On the leadership aspect of being President – In my opinion, this is more important. Quite honestly, the role doesn’t have much power over the league in terms of dictating what people do. I think that the main point of being President is to be a good representation of the league. I think this requires someone who is friendly, approachable, and caring. I don’t particularly care about debate to win. I’m here and I’ve stayed because I love this activity and the people who do it. It’s hooked me because I feel like I learn so much every round, no matter who I hit. I learn from hitting second tournament novices and from second TOTY. I feel like I appreciate people every time I talk to someone new in GA, and I learn about this non-profit they’re working for, or a cool book they have read recently, or a case they’re writing about a personal experience. I think so many people have stories about their lives and experiences on the league, and so many people have insight about issues I know nothing about, and so many people have good ideas about how to make APDA a place everyone can enjoy. I’m running because I love APDA, even though I know it’s flawed, and I think the role of a President is to listen to people, everyone, no matter who they are, and to genuinely consider how that person’s ideas can make APDA better.

My promise is simple – to listen, to learn, and to spend my last year trying my best to make APDA better. I know I can do this, and if you believe I can do this, please vote for me. Thanks.

Candidates for Vice President for Operations
Tanay Patri (Northeastern University)
Hi! For those of you guys who don’t know me, I’m a third year at Northeastern studying Finance and Economics. I’ve been doing APDA since my freshman year and am around almost every weekend. Generally these candidate statements are pretty long and contain a lot of superfluous information, so I’m going to keep this as to the point as possible.

I believe the role of VP Ops specifically is fourfold: 1) to keep track of the -OTY board as a whole, 2) to maintain the website, 3) to facilitate tournaments running as smoothly as possible, and 4) to run APDA meetings.

Generally speaking, I think that the capabilities required for the first two roles are pretty easy to identify. In order to adequately keep track of the -OTY board, I think that the VP Ops should be both present at tournaments and be in contact with tournament directors to post results in a timely manner. Additionally, I think that there should be a push for uniform usage of NU-Tab across tournaments — because it is easy to maintain backups and easy to extract tab cards, it creates a standardized way of running tournaments (more on this in a second). With respect to the website, I’ve used WordPress before and am relatively familiar with the interface in order to keep it running adequately.

I think the most important thing that I bring to the table is with respect to allowing tournaments to run far more efficiently. I am extremely familiar with tab software, and have helped out at various tournaments to address small problems that have arisen during the course of the tournament in order to allow things to flow more smoothly, in addition to having been in tab the last 5 NU tournaments (which have all gone relatively smoothly from a tab perspective).

Additionally, I think APDA board should take a proactive role in making sure that tournaments are able to function properly. There are a few things specifically that I want to push for: 1) the creation of a simple, easy to use tab manual for tab staffs with little experience on NU-Tab that takes a lot of the information on the NU-Tab wiki and makes it more readily available and easy to understand, 2) reaching out 3-4 weeks ahead of time to tournament directors asking what help they need from the board, and 3) increasing the diversity and number of available and qualified TOs to be able to help out in tab in a meaningful way (identifying common errors that occur and how to fix them, etc.) and attempting to connect them with TDs well ahead of time. I think that I’m uniquely qualified to do this especially compared to other candidates, given that on 5 days notice I was able to coordinate the organization of the New England Revolution tournament, serving as a co-TD and the tab director for the tournament that actually ended up running extremely smoothly.

I think more important than the success of the tournament, however, is that I care a lot about making sure that tournaments run, even at the expense of personally competing (like at NER). I generally do not have -OTY considerations or other incentives that ever put my personal debate interests in conflict with tournaments functioning, which I think is especially important for this position whose priority should be facilitating things on the league running as smoothly as possible.

The final part of this job is to run APDA meetings. I’ve been at these since my freshman year at Harvard, and I feel like I’ve seen enough of these bureaucratic messes to be able to run them adequately enough. I’m familiar with how amendments function and generally how these meetings work.

If you have any questions about my candidacy or just want to reach out and talk in general, shoot me a message on Facebook or send me an email at patri.t@husky.neu.edu!

Thanks,
Tanay Patri

Candidates for Vice President for Finance
Aditya Ram (University of Chicago)
As many of you might already know, I am running for the APDA Board because I lost my fantasy football league I have a great passion in the improvement of the APDA league. As a punishment reward, I must run for Board, and, if elected, serve. Now, if you know me, and many of you do, you know I do not do things by half measures. I am not going to run on a milquetoast position of generic promises that never get fulfilled. I am going to run on a single, simple promise: I will work as hard as needed to solve the many problems of the league. A few policy proposals.

I will show up to APDA meetings. A bold promise, to be sure. But the bars set by the APDA board are honestly not that high. I attended all unopposed tournaments this year. I sat in GA during the meetings. I wasn’t playing Brick Breaker; I was listening and engaging with the motions and issues up for vote. Policy is passed by the people in the room. I will be in the room.

I will engage in radical transparency. The board makes many choices (selecting TO’s, VP Ops reaffiliation, policy pushes) without making a good faith attempt to inform the body. Lord knows the league distrusts the board enough, and only the sunlight of complete and total truth will keep the covenant between the body and the board.

I will represent historically marginalized minorities on APDA. Firstly, tall people. Nobody is as tall as me. For too long have we been forced to debate in folding desk chairs that are far to small for us to sit in, much less flow in. I’d say now is our time to rise up, but realistically that would not make a difference. Secondly, I will represent Aditya’s everywhere, an often ignored group that represents half the league. I take great pride in representing Aditya’s everywhere.

I will offer tab advice. This will sound like a personal callout to an astounding number of people, and it most certainly is. This league genuinely needs a competent tabber on the board to ensure that tournaments and TO’s don’t create inequitable outcomes by simple mistabs. I am uniquely capable of providing this experience.

I will de-escalate tensions between the North and the South. Our league is more polarized than at any time since the Civil War (or rather the secret primary of 2015). We have Yalies being called carpetbaggers in Southern GA’s; Southern’s getting 28’s (28s!) in the North. We need a unifying force to bring an end to this strife, and I will be that force.

I know how amendments work. The amendment process (and indeed, any vote of the body) is a convoluted and involved process. I have and will continue to give advice to people who want to pass amendments or reaffiliate. This experience might be particularly important if a certain someone tries to rewrite the whole bylaws on a whim.

I will Ban NOTY. Clear enough.

I will ban rep on the league. This isn’t actually going to happen. But I have ways to ameliorate some barriers that in my opinion are unfair.

Why are the best judges not put in the closest rounds in the middle of the bubble? Why should qualled debaters get seeds to ensure easy Round 1 matchups? Why do those debaters never have to deal with novice judges?

Now I know these issues are complicated, and the way I phrased these questions ignores much of the nuance that underlies these situations. But I have been told over and over again that forums like PoC’s or the meme page are the incorrect places to have these discussions. Elections seem like the correct place to have these discussions. So here goes. I propose –

  1. A best practice to put the best calibrated judges in the middle of the bracket.

  2. Deleting the best practice about seeding and inserting a best practice banning seeding/matchup generation on the basis of factors external to the tournament at hand.

  3. A best practice mandating team codes.

You might not agree with me – welcome to the club – but I think we can all agree these issues merit discussion and nuanced engagement. Next year, regardless of my position of the board, I will bring many of these motions to vote. I hope, over the next month, I can use my platform to convince you.

Thanks.

Adi Ram

Tiffany Yuan (Johns Hopkins University)
Hi APDA!

My name is Tiffany Yuan, and I’m a junior at Hopkins running for Vice President of Finance. This previous year, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the board as a Member-At-Large, and I hope to continue my work on the board next year as VP Finance. I want to run for board again because I’ve learned a lot about both its functions and my priorities through experience, and believe that I can work more effectively on them as a result. Additionally, for the past three years, APDA has been the place where I’ve made some of my closest friends and best memories, and I think that serving on board would give me the ability to give back to a community that I really care about.

At Hopkins, I’ve served on the Executive Board as the Vice President of Operations for the past year, and as a result have dealt with external things like registration and invoices, as well as more internal changes as well. I believe that the experience I’ve gained from this heavily logistical and organizational role will make me well suited to VP Finance, for whom a large part of the role is being able to reach out early and often to communicate about dues and being organized enough to keep track of them. As a Member-At-Large, I’ve attended all APDA meetings and helped to facilitate important discussions on bylaws and policies – in doing this, I’ve gained a better understanding of how to make discussions about contentious policies proceed productively and mediate conflict. I’ve also tried to be a compassionate person as opposed to just a passive board member, and have reached out to individuals and schools to offer support or ask them for their opinions on policies that might affect them, which I think is important in making sure that the board genuinely represents league interests and the league feels that as well.

As VP Finance, I’d want ensure that tournaments are fully aware of bylaws and are able to run more smoothly as a result. Policies like fees for things like lunch or ineligible debaters do good things, but sometimes penalize tournaments who don’t mean any harm purely because they are unaware of them. There are instances that are really unfortunate where tournaments might have a change in tab policy or do something that would require paying a fee without knowing that that’s the case, especially for schools that might not have hosted a tournament many times. As VP Finance, I would reach out to each school hosting a tournament beforehand to ensure that they were aware of these fees and thus are able to make a fully informed decision (or even have enough time to ask for a waiver). I think this kind of transparency would make it more likely that well meaning tournaments and newer schools aren’t penalized for things that might be accidental or out of their control, which is on net fairer for the league. Additionally, I would want to work closely with the expansion committee to make sure that new teams to the league were given a run down on these policies (as well as things like dues) to make their transition to APDA as easy and smooth as possible.

The second logistical thing I’d want to implement has to do with a board role that isn’t as often talked about but I think is really important – choosing and approving TOs. First, I think that board ought reach out to schools that might not know about the bylaws requirements of getting a TO approved significantly ahead of time so that they’re aware and able to comply with the bylaw. Additionally, I think that there should be more information provided by teams and more discussion among the board before approval, especially concerning tabbing ability and experience, to ensure that TOs have the ability to respond to challenges that might occur at tournaments.

The final thing I want to talk about is committee work. One of the most important roles of board members is being a liaison to their committee. For me, this meant working closely with the Gender Empowerment Committee to ensure that we were able to be as effective as possible in achieving the goals we set out. In order to facilitate this, we hosted information sessions and meetings at large tournaments to talk about things like retention, equity, and individual experiences. Before these meetings, we’d have things like Skype calls to discuss agendas and to make sure that public events went smoothly. Individually, I would also have discussions with chairs to decide on what our priorities for the semester would be and how best to support them. I would love to implement a policy or practice for board members to be more involved within their committees as well as providing regular updates to the rest of board to increase cooperation within and between committees. Whether this is in terms of planning, or even checking in with chairs more often, I think everyone benefits when there’s more transparency and cooperation involved, and it would reduce the burden and stress on chairs and members to have someone working more closely with them.

I’m always open to new suggestions or feedback from anyone, so please feel free to reach out to me at tiffanyyuan47@gmail.com, PM me on Facebook, or even just stop me in GA anytime! I look forward to speaking with all of you in the coming weeks!

Thanks,

Tiffany

Candidates for Member-at-Large
Ellie Singer (Yale University)
Hello!

My name is Ellie and I’m a sophomore at Yale, and I am running to be one of your Members at Large. I am running because, for the past year and a half or so, APDA has been my life. I have spent almost every single weekend this year debating on the league, frequently going to APDA tournaments while forfeiting BP tournaments or opportunities to get paid coaching high schoolers. Through the league, I have gained confidence in myself and in my skills as a debater, a lot of knowledge about everything from random centuries-old political factoids to sports I will never watch, and friends from all corners of the relatively small region that APDA competes in. I want to support it because it matters so much to me. That is why I joined the GEI and EOF committees this semester, and that is why I want to join the board.

I think I have both the capability and the dedication to be a good member at large.

The board handles a massive administrative burden, and I think I am fit to help manage it. I serve on Yale’s board as Development Director and help manage a pretty large team, handling miscellaneous tasks, public events, and more. My job involves critical managerial skills not just limited to logistics, but also to the ability to make quick decisions and to handle sensitive interpersonal issues. I also helped run the Yale IV – I did all the housing and invoices – and am often the first to come and last to leave at our tournaments even when it is not my responsibility. I’ve gotten more involved in the league as well by joining committees. I am willing to make sacrifices in other parts of my life to make time for APDA board. I will make it a priority. In terms of my service, I come to you with promises of competence and commitment instead of wild campaign slogans because I recognize, like Matt Rohn’s incredible meme alluded to, a lot of the work board members do might not be glamorous and exists behind the scenes. This might not be catchy, but it is what is needed to keep the league running.

I can also promise dedication to the league as a whole.

I have a clear dedication to equity both on and off the league. On the league, I serve as an equity officer. I care deeply about making the league a better place where everyone can compete and feel respected and welcomed. This job requires commitment, respect, and discretion that members of board also need. Off the league, I’ve committed myself to equity, especially gender equity, at my school. I am one of the directors of an organization, Engender, which aims to gender integrate social organization at Yale and make the school a safer and more inclusive place, hence why I went to court to do so. Making the league a place that has equal access and opportunities for all members from any background and school is very important to me. One more important priority to me is league balance. Divisiveness between the North and South may make for good memes but it does not make for a great league culture. I love both my Northern compatriots and my Southern friends, hence why I often go South even when there are much closer Northern tournaments around. I will work hard to make sure the interests of all regions are well represented on board, regardless of its makeup.

Since the start of my time of APDA, it has given me everything. I would be honored if you’d elect me and allow me to give back.

Feel free to reach out to me on Facebook with anything you’d like to ask or say – I want to hear your thoughts.

Thank you all!

Ellie

Anish Welde (University of Pennsylvania)
Hey APDA!

I’m Anish Welde, and I am running for the Member-at-Large position. I’m a sophomore at Penn, and was a part of the Novice Mentor Committee in Fall 2018. As part of Penn Debate’s Executive Board, I served as the Novice Trainer in 2018, and now as the Vice President External (ie. VP Ops). Moreover, since high school I have been closely engaged with the administrative aspect of running a team, being the President of my high school debate team.

I am running for MAL because I believe that I have the dedication, love for the league and competence to execute the tasks required of me in a responsible and reliable manner. I want you to vote for me because you trust that I am capable, approachable and willing to put the time and effort in to helping support the institutions that make up this league, as well as helping run the bureaucratic side of the league.

The first thing that I think is most important is emphasizing my commitment to the league. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I fell in love with APDA and debate. So far, I have attended 16 tournaments this season, and 20 last season. I plan to compete every weekend that I am able to next year as well. I will be extremely accessible as a resource both online and at tournaments to discuss concerns, and provide support to schools. A large part of a MAL’s responsibilities are coordinating with schools regarding things like the creation of the new schedule and the running of their tournaments. I believe that I have fostered positive relationships with many schools in my team on the league, and would be able to communicate and support them effectively. Importantly, I want the league to know that this position is a priority for me. In my capacity as MAL, I would want to give back to the community that I feel has helped shape such a large part of my college life.

The second thing I want to talk about is the role of APDA board in helping make the league a more equitable place. Through this organization, I have made some of the best friends I think I ever will, and it’s allowed me to pursue my passion in a safe environment. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. Many people on this league today still experience racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry whether explicitly or through micro-aggressions. I don’t want to preach on this topic, because we know these problems exist, but I just want the league to know that helping support DI/GEI, affinity groups, and utilizing DI surveys effectively will be a big priority for me if I am elected.

The third thing I want to talk about is expansion on the league. I believe that this is an area where MALs might be best suited to give back to the league. I believe there are two ways that MALs can help make the league more inclusive and supportive of expansion schools. The first is by helping them run the best possible tournaments that they can. For schools that are new, or just lack the institutional memory, a MAL can be an effective resource to help meet best practices, help attract/train judges, and importantly, help put out last minute fires that may arise. This is a big part of being on APDA board, and I will pledge to be responsive, and effective in helping expansion schools run the best tournaments they can. The second aspect is through helping them liaise with the NM committee to provide more specialized resources. Different schools have different levels of experience and face different commitment-level and retention problems. APDA board liaise with the committees to help target the individual needs of expansion schools.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to put my candidacy forward. If I am elected to APDA Board, I pledge to be Responsive, Reliable, and Responsible. I believe that I am an accessible contact point for various schools, North or South (or APDA central/MidWest haha), and I am confident that those relationships will help make me effective at the job.

Please get in touch to chat about my candidacy, or any other APDA related issues that you find important! My number is 484-602-3441, email is anishw@sas.upenn.edu, and you can find me on Facebook as ‘Anish Hoskote Welde’.

Thank you so much for considering my candidacy and I look forward to hearing from you!

Taleen Khleifat (George Washington University)
Hey everyone! My name is Taleen Khleifat and I am a sophomore at GW running for the Member at Large position on APDA Board! I joined APDA with no prior experience with debate, but I have been lucky enough to have met many amazing people on the league that have made this place my home.

As a female novice and woman of color without the benefits of rep, I have seen the structural problems with our league that disproportionately affect marginalized people. As your Member At Large, I will make it my priority to make the league a place where anyone can feel welcome and prosper.

I joined the Diversity Initiative committee as a novice, proving my commitment to positive change. I demonstrated my leadership and earned the title of co-Chair of the committee; skills I have learned here will transfer to the MAL position. During my time on APDA, I have also had the honor of serving as a member of the Equal Opportunity Facilitators committee and Communications Chair of the GW Parliamentary Debate Society. I came into this position without a framework of what a Comms Chair did, but I brought life to the position by creating a GWPDS Instagram, featuring novice spotlights, and making sure to give equal focus to all of our debaters. Simply put, I take a nebulous role and make it my own. I will take the same action as MAL to pave the way towards new ways APDA board can strive towards serving more than just those who experience consistent competitive success.

I decided to run for MAL because I want to continue to make this league a more equitable and accessible place. You can pick and choose what I’ve already done on this league to provide an example of how I’ll be successful in this position. With this knowledge, I’ve decided to focus my platform on a few key areas – increasing diversity, making debate more accessible, and increasing our efforts with expansion.

First, regarding diversity, I would like to increase our efforts with affinities, collect anonymous census information, and make a designated gender minority tournament weekend annual. As chair of DI, we launched affinity groups to provide a community and safe space for people of diverse backgrounds who’ve experienced discrimination to speak about it. With affinity groups, we’ve launched not only racial and ethnic affinities, but affinities for gender minorities, certain religions, and for the LGBTQ+ community. Most notably, we recently launched Debaters with Disabilities as an active effort to make the league more accessible for those with physical disabilities and to promote neurodiversity as well. When on board, I will make affinities more active by institutionalizing them and provide them with more resources from board. With this, I’d hope to have board communicate with affinities and use their input to tackle structural problems on the league. This would be especially important for debaters with disabilities, as we have never made an effort to address problems people with disabilities face on the league. Moreover, on board I will start collecting anonymous census information for APDA. All the questions would be optional and would include questions on gender, ethnic identity, year of college, years debating, past debate experience, and the frequency at which people compete (e.g. number of tournaments per semester). This in combination with anonymous information on the experiences people on this league have faced will help us better identify and solve such problems. As an equity officer, I’ve seen first hand a lot of the existing problems regarding equity and discrimination on this league for different people and the intersections of their identity, but we need to collect concrete data on this in order to effectively solve these problems. Additionally, I will amend the bylaws to designate a weekend on the APDA schedule for gender minority tournaments. Being on GW’s team where our members were the main proponents of this and will be one of the first two schools to host such a tournament, I firmly believe hosting such tournaments will serve many benefits to the league, such as providing a safe space for gender minorities to compete (especially those questioning their identity without having to out themselves by judging at the tournament), be empowered, and offering a space for novices to

Regarding expansion, we need more HBCUs to join the league and I would like to further develop our expansion policy. On DI, we have been working to get more HBCUs to join the league, and I would also like to increase our efforts with this by providing more support from the board. By providing this support, it will encourage more HBCUs to compete on APDA and equip them with the resources and help necessary for this. This includes helping with recruitment and establishing the team, full registration breaks, and helping them to run their own independent tournaments. On a broader scale, I will also develop APDA’s expansion policy to make the expansion committee more active and further provide resources to expansion schools. These resources include documents and materials that can help teams train campus judges, uploading more videos of rounds online as learning tools, helping teams get more money and institutional support from their respective universities, and instituting more registration breaks. In doing this, we can help expansion schools run better and larger tournaments to increase their profits, but also help them to establish a larger and more active team. Furthermore, I will increase our outreach to more schools in different geographical locations to increase accessibility to tournaments. To facilitate this outreach, I believe we would need to provide these schools with the same resources aforementioned.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to having more discussion about my ideas!

Aba Tieku (College of William & Mary)
Hi, I’m Aba, a sophomore at William & Mary, running to be one of three Members-at-Large (MALs) on board for the 2019-20 year. I am currently the co-chair of the Gender Empowerment Initiative, which I have served on for three semesters since Spring 2018. Additionally, I served on the Diversity Initiative in Spring 2018.

Unlike many of you, my love of debate doesn’t go back to years of experience in other formats. APDA is the only format I’ve ever known. I only started debating competitively last year and immediately fell in love with it. Having the chance to make sure as many people as possible get the chance to enjoy debating on APDA as much as I do is the main reason I am running.

In my mind board serves two major purposes. The first is actually running the league. That means things like planning the schedule for each year, enforcing best practices, picking tab staff for Nats and the DCA for NorthAms etc. The second task is externalizing the norms and values that are representative of the league as a whole. This means helping create committees that are reflective of the things APDA debaters care about, facilitating discussion about issues and bylaw amendments at APDA meetings. These two tasks are equally important responsibilities for all board members and my views on them shape the two major prongs of my platform.

(1)   Logistics

In terms of the logistics of actually running the league I think there are few areas that are important. The first issue is Nats.

It seems somewhat unclear what the bylaws say regarding how much authority the body has over the format of Nats. With discussion over things like 7 in-rounds vs partial outs already happening I think it would be good to solidify what the body has a right to decide when it comes to the structure of Nats.

Even though it has been debated time and time again, since it has come up lately in league conversations, I’ll state that I am, for the record, in favor of BP autoquals. Like expansion autoquals, it is reasonable to say that they are unfair. The unfairness is a tradeoff worth making because it allows debaters skilled in another format to improve the quality of the competitive pool at Nats. Additionally in situation where a debater earns a BP autoqual but is uninterested in using it, u

The second issue is scheduling. It is important because board has a significant influence on making the schedule every year. I believe that board should commit to doing everything possible to ensure that tournaments are scheduled in ways that both allow host schools to maximize their draw and are accessible to as many competing teams possible each weekend.

The last thing on logistics is simply about my ability to do the work. I have been on committees for the majority of my time on APDA. I have a good understanding of board’s major responsibilities and think that I am capable of doing the work required of a MAL.

At the end of the day, my opinion on some of these issues doesn’t really matter. No board member can stop the body from voting the way it votes, but for those of you who have strong opinions about these things it might be helpful to know where each candidate stands.

(2)   Equity

I think it is fair to say that even if we are all not always perfect at it—I know I’m certainly not—that the vast majority of APDA debaters care deeply about making sure debate is a safe and equitable place. In terms of board’s ability to uphold the values of the league I think this is a place where it could be doing a lot more.

In my time on GEI I have heard a lot of concerns from debaters with regards to equity at tournaments, especially outside of rounds. While EOFs are one great resource for dealing with the issues sometimes it is simply not enough. One way that I’ve thought to deal with this is creating a comprehensive league-wide equity guide, somewhat similar to already existing guides about retention and expansion. This would allow teams across the league to share and discuss ideas about (1) dealing with equity issues internally through their own institutional resources and (2) equity issues across the league. The first is especially important because while in certain circumstances it would be extremely difficult for board to use any binding authority to prohibit debaters from participating on the league, teams, who usually facilitate debaters access to the league tend to have a lot more power in who is allowed to associate with them. The second would allow everyone, not just EOFs or committee members to be more aware of the various instances of equity issues that people experience on APDA that cannot be covered within a 5-minute equity briefing at the beginning of a tournament.

The second major area for equity improvement is with regards to data. While there already exists a lot of data on competitive success and speaks disparities among diverse groups of debaters, more concrete data on retention and demographics is also important. I know some interest has been expressed in a league census of some kind of voluntary data base of the demographics of specific debaters. Understanding what the actual representative disparities on the league are and how they manifest can help us better figure out what we can actually do about them. With this especially, I understand that there are a lot of concerns of selection bias and privacy, but a better understanding of what the makeup of the league looks like is worth it.

Debate is a valuable and educational activity. Everyone is entitled access to it. Whoever is on board should do all that they can to ensure that everyone actually gets access to it.

If you have made it to the end of this “brief” manifesto, thank you for reading. For those of you on the league who do know me I would hope that you believe that I am qualified to serve as a MAL and vote for me. For those of you I don’t know, please feel free to reach out. Regardless of the election results, the issues laid out in my platform are ones of deep personal importance to me. Even if I don’t win, I hope that my candidacy can be an opportunity to facilitate productive discussion and decisions across the league.

Haseeb Waseem (Villanova University)
Hi everyone; I’m Haseeb. While I do not necessarily have the most competitive success on the league (I don’t even have a debater page with my updated school as of this post!), it’s possible that you know me through what I’ve done in committees, and through having founded a new team on the league. Regardless, I am thoroughly and genuinely excited to run for one of the three MALs for the APDA Executive Board.

Rather than have clear-cut directions on what their jobs are like with President, Ops, and Finance, MALs accomplish work mostly via liaising with committees and self-determined direction. Given the broad scope of MAL duties and their role in providing oversight with the rest of the board on the body, it is utterly imperative to have a variety of perspectives to gain thorough understanding of issues on the league and to give all parts of the league a voice in administrative decisions that affect it. From having gone from being incredibly active in an established team to founding my own team at Villanova, I believe that I have a unique perspective in looking at problems on the league from the lens of both an established team and from a smaller team that does not necessarily have the same access to resources or institutional knowledge. My perspective has been personally expanded with having worked as a Novice Mentor, EOF, and VRC, and my main policy approach extends from this type of perspective.

I also believe that I fulfill the communicative aspect that the by-laws embody of a MAL with their large focus on liaising between schools, the board, and committees. From currently serving as the Founder and President of the Villanova Debate Union, I have learned through trial-by-fire the necessary skills in facilitating conversation between administrative bodies and individuals under the former’s oversight. I have also served as various positions on other on-campus organizations. Having these responsibilities on top of coursework, and APDA committee duties demonstrates my organizational skills in staying on top of everything. I understand what I am able to seek and accomplish without sacrificing effort toward any one of my responsibilities.

A lesser-talked about, but just as, if not, most important factor of the communication aspect of MAL is the personality side of it. I’ve learned from being the other side that it is far easier to communicate to someone that embodies a warm, positive and wholesome attitude and trust them to understand the perspectives necessary of an issue. While the competitive side of debate is enticing, what truly draws me to the league is the community behind it. Every weekend, I remember every hug, laugh or smile that I’ve shared with another debater as a highlight, regardless of how many rounds I judged that day. I think of tagging the people I know in memes or photos related to whatever interesting topic I’ve heard them talk about. Fixing the structural issues within APDA is contingent on listening to all people within, and that is the most important crux of what a MAL is responsible for. Love and friendship is the centerpiece of what makes APDA unique, and it is through that which I’ve experienced that has shaped my view on apparent issues within the league.

My main policy goals may be aiming for a high bar, but I feel that any step that can be made toward achieving them is important. The first is the formation of a Wellness/Mental Health Initiative subcommittee under EOF or outright committee. Having to balance the workload of college, internships, career opportunities, and health on top of the draining activity of debate is incredibly difficult. Having a committee to act as a resource for individual debaters and even teams to access would be ideal toward at least partially reducing the near-cultural acceptance of debate-related stress as normalized. We need to open the conversation about mental health to reduce stigma in the community, as well as inspire individual teams to have the conversation on a microscale that translates to a greater effect writ large. While college students can absolutely never replace the professional, debaters can provide their unique perspectives to offer solutions or a shoulder to cry on.

Secondly, I would like to work with EOF on making more physical resources toward creating an equitable environment on individual teams, such as articles. At the beginning of the year, I asked a number of teams about policies that they incorporated to provide an equal space for their members of varying genders, races, and sexualities. While each team is obviously different, a collection of perspectives definitely helped point me in the right direction with trying to make the VDU a safe space for any potential member. Having these resources would greatly help both smaller and larger individual teams alike in promoting the fair space that APDA advertises itself as but never embodies, and would at least especially help to act as a way to reduce equity issues from happening via greater information. Rather than addressing equity as reactionary, we should take preventative measures on the ground to try and fix the problem.

Overall, my goal with my MAL run is to try and make the Executive Board the true and accurate representation of the league that it oversees; both the big and small schools. I feel that I am qualified in communicating both on a logistical level and a personal one, and I want to create more love for all debaters on the league who don’t always feel comfortable speaking out. Any MAL under consideration should embody these factors, and I believe that I do so. If you’d kindly lend me your vote, I would be honored and thankful.

Thank you so much for reading. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Facebook or hwaseem@villanova.edu; have a wonderful day!