Debate organizers’ error is unspeakable

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsCHSSA claims that it’s unable to change the date of the tournament due to its bylaws and the difficulties of finding a new venue. However, CHSSA has also refused limited proposals such as ending debate rounds early on Saturday in order to hold a first-night seder. It has even refused to apologize for the error. My former debate coach at Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Doug Lasken, attended a CHSSA board meeting in September, where he introduced a motion to conduct a two-week feasibility study of the logistics of changing the date. The concept for the motion originated with Rabbi Mark Diamond, president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. Rabbi Diamond had vetted the motion with David Long, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s secretary of education, who found it reasonable. When Lasken reviewed the motion with some of the CHSSA leadership, they asked him to add a provision stating that any findings of the two-week study would require approval by the CHSSA executive committee, and another stating that no monetary costs were to accrue to CHSSA as a result of any findings of the study. Lasken inserted both provisions. Not only was this very reasonable motion overwhelmingly voted down by the CHSSA board, but comments from board members were extremely hostile (e.g. “There’s so many religions out there, how are we supposed to keep track of them all?). It is unbelievable to me that responsible adults, most of them educators themselves, cannot see how insensitive this appears. Last year I graduated from Taft High School, and I am now a freshman attending UC Berkeley looking to study political science. I participated in speech and debate all four years of high school and served as my team’s president my sophomore year. Attending the CHSSA State Tournaments created some of the greatest moments of my high school experience. To think that my two younger sisters, who are current members of Taft’s team, will not be able to attend because of this conflict is quite disheartening. This does not solely affect Jewish debaters; it affects all debaters who have a Jewish coach or teammate. If Jewish coaches cannot attend the tournament due to their religious observance, their entire teams will be unlikely to attend as well, Jewish or not. Moreover, the tournament’s exclusion of certain people compromises the validity of the state championship titles because the winners will not have faced all potential competitors. CHSAA’s vision statement proclaims that, “Every student will develop interpersonal skills necessary for establishing understanding among members of a diverse society.” The adults in this organization should practice what they preach to students. By Brittany Gorin is a student at the University of California at Berkeley.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! `Debate is life; the rest is just prep time.” This is one of my favorite sayings, and I am sure many other high school debaters, past and present, would say the same. Debaters spend countless hours doing research, perfecting their speaking styles, and developing strategies with teammates. Debate becomes a way of life. Unfortunately this year, many Jewish high school debaters and their affected teammates will not be able to garner the rewards of their love of public speaking. The California High School Speech Association has scheduled this year’s State Tournament for April 18-20, Passover weekend. Mistakes are inevitable, and no one doubts that this one was inadvertent. However, CHSSA’s unwillingness to acknowledge the error and its outright refusal to consider taking any action to rectify it is a huge slap in the face to the Jewish community and to anyone who believes in the values of cultural respect. last_img

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