Everyone Participates!

Ideas for Involving Everyone in a Positive Way, Pt 1



Prepared by Jim Hanson

February 8, 2013


With thanks to the many who provided ideas including:

Aaron Kall, Alex Zendeh, Allison Harper, Brent Northup, Caitlyn Burford, Carly Wunderlich, Chris Baron, Dan Fitzmier, David Airne, Denise Vaughan, Derek Buescher, Duane Fish, Edward Hinck, Eric Morris, Gabe Murillo, Gordie Miller, Gordon Stables, Heather Hall, Jeannie Hunter, Jen Sweeney, Joe Blasdel, Joel Rollins, Jordan Mills, Josh Ramsey, Justin Green, Kevin Kuswa, Korry Harvey, Kurt Fifelski, Melan Jaich, Mike Davis, Nigel Ramoz-Leslie, Omar Guevara, Paul Johnson, Paul Mabrey, Rob Layne, Scott Harris, Sherris Minor, Skip Rutledge, Steve Woods, Terry Winebrenner, Tiffany Dillard-Knox, Travis Cram, Tyler Griffin, Zach Tschida.



Recruiting. 2

Team Atmosphere. 3

Tournament Experience. 4

Models and Leadership. 5

Retention. 5





This is a draft and I welcome comments, suggested revisions, alternate perspectives, and additional ideas. Email me at hansonjbnpte@gmail.com  




Recruit underrepresented individuals for coaching

Seek out and contact underrepresented individuals; encourage them to apply for positions.

Seek evidence from the candidates and references that they will be inclusive and add diversity to your program.

Recruit underrepresented individuals for debating/speaking

Seek out and contact underrepresented individuals; encourage them to be part of your program. Go beyond the “hotshots” – think about smart, hard working, invested underrepresented individuals who want to debate.

Recruit International, Black Student Union, etc. students.

Recruit students in gender/race and ethnic studies/etc. programs/majors.

Recruit with personal communication and being open toward diverse ideas.

Recruit shy-quiet hard workers; smart students.

Recruit community college students.

Send recruit information to high school coaches and encourage them to send underrepresented individuals your way.

Recruit from the women’s debate institute, urban debate leagues, etc.

Recruit from schools with underrepresented individuals.

Recruit underrepresented individuals from classes.

Engage students beyond just the parameters of debating and tournament travel, so they feel personally connected to the team; build interpersonal relationships.

Have you checked your recruiting materials so that they appeal to underrepresented individuals?

Are you showing diversity in your pictures? Content? Acknowledgment of additional programs and activities at your school that appeal to a wide range of individuals?

In your promotion, do you note that students can argue some of their own favorite arguments; can argue gender/ethnic issues? Do you note that the debate community is open to many different arguments?

Show your recruiting materials to underrepresented individuals on your team and in your classes; get their feedback and adjust them.

Encourage underrepresented individuals at debate camps to participate in college speech and debate

Talk with underrepresented individuals in labs.

Encourage a recruiting presentation that includes encouragement of underrepresented individuals.

Encourage underrepresented individuals on the high school circuit to participate

Talk with underrepresented individuals after debates/speech rounds.

Encourage high school tournament directors to promote participation of underrepresented individuals including in high school and college perhaps at an awards or opening assembly?

Encourage high school tournament directors to implement modes for students, judges, and coaches to report harassing, discriminatory, and exclusionary behaviors by other students, judges, and coaches. Take action to stop those harmful behaviors.

Work with your Financial Aid/Admission to offer scholarships for underrepresented debaters

This can send a message that such debaters are important and valued.

Talk with high school coaches to encourage underrepresented individuals to participate

Begin a dialogue with high school coaches to encourage participation of underrepresented individuals.

Underrepresented individuals should encourage other underrepresented individuals to participate

Don’t put the burden on underrepresented individuals but for those interested, encourage connections with others

Have recruiting lunches and dinners including with underrepresented individuals

Have Public debates on your campus so people know about your program

Promote these debates to diverse groups on campus (perhaps such groups can co-sponsor?).

Consider topics on race/class/gender issues.

Consider issues that appeal to diverse groups.


Team Atmosphere

Keep the focus on the squad rather than a few select individual teams

Everyone on your squad should be valued.

Encourage each person for the work each does.

Publically acknowledge all of the kinds of successes on a team: awards, team members’ extra effort and help, and research/work effort.

Celebrate underrepresented individuals’ involvement and successes on the program

Encourage motivations beyond win-loss

Don’t get angry at students that lose.

Work with students to achieve their goals.

Ensure an atmosphere that does not have sexist/racist/classist/discriminatory and harassing attitudes/comments/actions.

Consult your school’s sexual harassment and diversity officers. Find out your school’s policies and follow them including instructing your students in those policies.

Provide training at the beginning of each semester/quarter to educate and reemphasize to the members of your program that inclusivity is important.

Discuss gendered/sexist/racist language; talk about identifying it, criticizing it, and responding to it.

Consider discussing various kinds of unkind comments—about people’s religious faith, political views, intellectual acumen, etc. Encourage students to engage in healthy, respectful dialogue about issues and ideas rather than attacks on people and groups of people.

Provide opportunities for students to seek outside help including who to talk to in cases of harassment, discrimination, mistreatment, and mental and physical health issues. In doing so, be sure to follow school policies.

Have an inviting atmosphere for students. Respond positively to students. Encourage student leaders to respond positively to students.

Create an environment where less abrasive, assertive people can participate, speak and be heard (this includes having debaters be less abrasive and assertive while in classes).

Reiterate to students that being progressive on ideas is not sufficient; it has to be carried out to actions and interactions among individuals.

Consider limiting irreverent ‘politically incorrect’ jokes even if meant in non-offensive ways. It can, especially when repeated, create a hostile environment.

Have your team members discuss how they can create a positive and supportive atmosphere. Have them write up lists of actions they can take. Encourage follow through.

Stop stereotyping and assuming that because someone is a certain gender/race/ethnicity/sexuality, etc. that they are a representation of generalized views of “that kind of person.” Treat each person as an individual.

Follow through in addressing complaints about discrimination and harassment. Make it clear to the person harassing/discriminating that it cannot continue. Ask the person who complained, has it stopped? Severe and/or persistent discrimination and harassment typically should be reported to officers at your school (see your school’s policies).

Have senior team leaders (not just one) who focus on issues of diversity

Talk with these students about encouraging inclusivity.

Talk with these students about working to stop harassment, discrimination, and unkind treatment of team members.

Encourage team leaders to communicate, socialize, and support younger team members.

Encourage positive social connections

Encourage social events where underrepresented individuals’ interests are incorporated

Encourage underrepresented individual social get togethers, debate events

Encourage students to take race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, classism, and other diversity based courses


Tournament Experience

Review judge preferences to assure they match with the wishes of each student including underrepresented individuals

Check with each debater about any judge that makes them uncomfortable

Talk with critics who might be dismissive of underrepresented individuals. Work productively to change the behavior.

Talk with critics about professionalism and inclusion.

Tournament directors should encourage training about inclusivity and avoidance of inappropriate comments.

Talk with judges who make comments about “being bitchy/aggressive” “dress a certain way” ethnic stereotypes, etc. As needed, strike such judges; talk with tournament directors/coaches about such individuals.

Try to hire more underrepresented individuals as judges

Increase diversity of debate tournament social events

Don’t just go with majority votes or with what the director or coaches want.

Give underrepresented individuals a say in the social activities you do (watch TV, shopping, dinners, etc.).

Try to have at least 2 of any gender or important underrepresented individuals group traveling to a tournament

Avoid having a person feel isolated or alone.

Work to assure that students feel safe and comfortable with the students they are traveling with.


Models and Leadership

Encourage watching of debates where underrepresented individuals are debating.

Give underrepresented individuals leadership roles on the team.

Student leaders should encourage diversity and diverse team members

Give young and rising people especially underrepresented individuals the opportunity to be role models

Use underrepresented individuals as examples and role models in lectures

Have senior members engage in drills with frosh/sophomores including underrepresented individuals

Talk about frosh including underrepresented individuals that struggled and who made it to success



Figure out what motivates each individual person

Don’t just focus on wins and awards.

Try to offer opportunities and stated goals that match up with those of each of the members on your team.

Consider emphasizing different benefits of debating besides winning.

Help those dealing with not being as successful as they want to be. This may entail contacting the counseling office at your school.

Coaches should talk with underrepresented individuals to get their feedback/input

Acknowledge and support the feedback.

Work to address concerns that were raised.

Help Younger Debaters

Establish explicit mentoring for young debaters.

Encourage novices to participate in your program including with training, special days devoted to their efforts, etc.

Nurture confidence and support for younger debaters.

Don’t discourage novices by showing fast/open division type of debate early in their efforts.

When establishing debate partnerships, give underrepresented individuals opportunities

Consider how teams are created in your program.

Consider how underrepresented individuals can have more opportunities in being partnered.

Don’t reject female-female/minority-minority/male-female or whatever combination because of a predisposition against such partnerships. Consider what the individuals wish and what will serve their and the program’s interests including in providing opportunities for underrepresented individuals.

Provide research diversity and opportunity

Give underrepresented individuals more opportunities to run their own kinds of arguments.

Encourage students to engage in race/class/gender and diverse kinds of research assignments.

Be open to different argument styles even within your program’s framework of argumentation.

Provide travel opportunities to underrepresented students

Adjust your travel schedules—don’t just give all the national and “important” tournament benefits to a select few; broaden it out.

Provide flexibility in the travel schedule (which tournaments, how many tournaments)

Create a clear path of low key involvement for team members who want that opportunity.

Provide differing levels of time commitment expected.

Consult someone you believe understands a student/coach/person having issues

This might entail, for example, consulting a female coach if an issue involves a female issue.

This might entail consulting someone who has experienced what the student is experiencing.

Learn why each student has left the team

This may require a neutral third party to find out.

Avoid guilt tripping such students; many feel bad for “letting the team down.”

Try to solve the reasons these students left for future generations.