NUDC England Equity Policy and Code of Conduct, 2013
NUDC Executive: Thomas Jackson (Chair), Eleanor Angwin (Secretary) and Jennie Hope (Women’s Officer)
NUDC England Equity Policy and Code of Conduct a)
What is the purpose of this policy?
A key feature of debate is the ideal that all should be able to take part in a free exchange of ideas, and be treated with respect. All participants should meet respectfully. No debater, adjudicator, organiser, coach or observer should be hindered or prevented from competing or otherwise participating in the competition by unfair discriminatory practices. All participants should be free from harassment and intimidation at competitions convened by English institutions. By producing a standardized NUDC Equity Policy and Code of Conduct, we hope to provide guidelines to ensure that the art of debate can be enjoyed by all. Further to this, we hope to show all individuals who wish to partake in debating that they are a member of a community which has rules and guidelines which will protect them. b)
What is equity?
This Code of Conduct applies to all events associated with the competition, including, but not limited to, debates, social events, and accommodation. No participant will engage in any behavior that could undermine or attack the purpose of debating
or this Code of Conduct, or unduly impair other participants’ ability to enjoy it. Such b
ehavior may include, but is not limited to: a) Making denigrating comments towards others. These can include both attacks on an individual, or can be attacks which concern identity characteristics including, but not limited to, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability or marital status; b) Harassing, threatening, intimidating others in any way, or detracting from their ability to participate in the tournament, including through direct abuse or gross insensitivity; c) Damaging or destroying any property that does not belong to them d) Allowing prejudices or subconscious bias to impact upon the way in which they treat or interact with other members of the competition. Clearly, the word
‘equity’ covers a wide range of issues; whilst it is perhaps easy to identify overt
breaches of acceptable behavior,
many behaviors sit in a “grey area”.
This is because equity is particularly concerned with the way in which speech or behavior is received by participants; for example, an offensive joke made in private is not an equity offence if those against whom it is directed to not feel alienated or in any way denigrated. It is the responsibility of each individual to ensure that their actions do not offend, denigrate or alienate other people; we must all be conscious of the way in which our behavior can impact upon other people. It is also important that participants to speak up when they have been made to feel uncomfortable, or been offended. This allows the community to reflect upon behaviors which may inadvertently impact on others in a negative way. The mechanisms for this will be outlined later.
What is an equity issue?
There are a few key areas which have been shown to be particularly problematic at this current time in debating, and have contributed to participants feeling unable to participate in debating:
Overgeneralised argumentation made from a position of ignorance or dismissiveness.
For example, religious people have previously been generalized and
described as uniformly ‘bigoted idiots’.
Whilst it is acceptable to make arguments criticizing particular groups, or indeed the idea of religion, the language people have frequently used to do so is alienating. As a general rule, participants should aim to show respect towards those who may hold different worldviews to their own.
Unreflected command of language.
Examples of this could be the use of the word
‘mental’ to describe opponents’ arguments, or telling female speakers to ‘grow a pair’.
Most people who make such comments do not do so with the intent to offend, but it is a habit which has been widely picked up. There are a large variety of words in the English
language available to point to the inadequacy of another person’s arguments
- for example, illogical or irrational- so it is completely unnecessary to use pejorative terms which relate to mentally ill people. As individuals partaking in debating, we are responsible for considering the language we use, and the impacts it may have on other people. We understand that this kind of language is often used unintentionally and unthinkingly; should you accidentally use such a term, you should apologize and self-correct.