You are on page 1of 2

Oct 26, 2013 Dear Friends, At the recommendation of the college, the Whitman Debate Program is temporarily forgoing

competiti e to!rnament tra el to reflect and foc!s on a n!mber of iss!es that ha e confronted the team for many years " iss!es that also affect the entire debate comm!nity# We are ta$ing steps to re erse a team c!lt!re that created a climate of ine%!ality, partic!larly for &omen on the team# 'his problem in team c!lt!re is not !ni%!e to Whitman " it is a primary reason for appallingly lo& rates of &omen(s participation in college debate# )t cannot, and sho!ld not, be dismissed as simply an indi id!al problem* altho!gh indi id!als contrib!te to the problem, no one person can be held responsible# +eca!se it is no ,one(s- problem, it is e eryone(s problem, and therefore &e &ill confront it as the team that &e are# )n response, &e ha e made s!bstantial progress and &ill contin!e to mo e for&ard# 'eam members are s!pporti e of one another and reg!larly gather for social e ents in addition to &or$ sessions# .ore specifically, &e &o!ld li$e to share a fe& of the &ays &e are addressing these problems in an attempt to propel a larger con ersation abo!t impro ing o!r comm!nity and to pro ide a fe& areas &here o!r foc!s is starting to yield res!lts# 1# A&areness# 'al$ing abo!t iss!es li$e se/ism, ine%!ality, harassment, and an !nsafe learning en ironment helps !s recogni0e and confront these problems &hen they arise# We ha e added a portion of time to each team meeting for ,open floorcomments# D!ring this time any member of the team can address the gro!p regarding any concerns or potential concerns# 1t!dents &ho are not comfortable bringing partic!lar iss!es to the &hole gro!p ha e been enco!raged to meet &ith some or all of the coaches to e/press these feelings# 2# 'raining and ed!cational sessions# 1etting aside specific times to &or$ thro!gh iss!es in ol ing the c!lt!re of the team can be ery helpf!l and empo&ering# )f reso!rces are a ailable, o!tside facilitators can ma$e s!ch meetings e en more prod!cti e# 2 en &itho!t an e/ternal moderator, many schools ha e e/perts in these areas &ho &o!ld be more than &illing to &or$ &ith st!dent programs if as$ed# O!r coaches ha e attended 'itle )3 training and 4lery Act 5eporting sessions to become better ad ocates for a safe team en ironment and more $no&ledgeable agents of change# 'he team as a &hole is c!rrently attending ed!cational sessions &ith an o!tside facilitator &ho speciali0es in race and gender e%!ity# Part of the reason &e ha e s!spended competition is to be able to de ote o!rsel es entirely to these sessions# O!r goal is to !se the tremendo!s &or$ ethic for &hich Whitman is &ell6$no&n to bring abo!t lasting and meaningf!l change for o!rsel es, o!r camp!s, and o!r comm!nity# 3# 2stablishing clear team g!idelines and policy# 'his is not a c!re6all by itself, b!t &e ha e fo!nd that st!dents and coaches &or$ing together to establish meaningf!l g!idelines that emphasi0e the importance of treating each other &ith respect can ma$e a positi e difference# Part of this process for !s in ol ed crafting a mission

statement that prioriti0es the ed!cational goals of the program and codifies the primary foc!s on de eloping a safe and n!rt!ring en ironment for all team members and coaches# 7# Pro iding e%!al opport!nities for st!dents# 8ot only is it important to recr!it debaters from di erse bac$gro!nds, all of the debaters sho!ld ha e space to occ!py distinct perspecti es that contrib!te to a healthy and enco!raging team en ironment# Paying attention to &ho is on the team and ho& to best s!pport each member of the team can ma$e a tangible difference in the o erall atmosphere of the program " and indeed, has already helped in o!r circ!mstance, as o!r first6 and second6year classes incl!de record rates of participation by &omen# We hope, and plan, to b!ild on their already prodigio!s s!ccesses in the coming years# We are planning a disc!ssion session regarding ,Women in 4ollege Debate- at o!r high school to!rnament and &e are committed to s!pporting the Women(s Debate )nstit!te 9http*::&omensdebateinstit!te#org:; and similar efforts in as many &ays as possible# We recogni0e as a gro!p that more &or$ remains and that &e cannot cease o!r igilance in see$ing the most hospitable learning en ironment possible# We need to broaden o!r efforts f!rther in the areas of racial discrimination, class discrimination, heteronormati ity, e/cessi e team hierarchy, comm!nity o!treach, and more# Finally, &e are hopef!l that &e &ill res!me to!rnament competition in the near f!t!re and p!rs!e &hat &e lo e<debate<&ith o!r friends and colleag!es# 'his note is not at all a means of enco!raging any other programs to forgo to!rnament competition<that is a mo e !ni%!e to o!r partic!lar sit!ation<b!t &e are &riting to share o!r e/periences &ith the comm!nity in terms of &hat is often referred to as a ,teachable moment#- Placing a priority on achie ing a better team en ironment is not m!t!ally e/cl!si e &ith o!r acti ities as a team# O!r debate practice and research &ill still occ!r, o!r high school to!rnament &ill still ta$e place, o!r Parliamentary to!rnament &ill still ta$e place, and o!r o!treach efforts incl!ding &or$ &ith the Washington 1tate Penitentiary debate team &ill contin!e# 'he Whitman Debate program gets stronger each day and o!r c!rrent efforts &ill help to carry !s for&ard# )f yo! ha e any s!ggestions for !s or %!estions, please do not hesitate to as$# We are a ailable at debate=&hitman#ed! as &ell as thro!gh o!r indi id!al contact information#

You might also like