2018 February/March Rostrum

Page 48


INCLUSION: Our Commitments to Our Community


by Steve Schappaugh Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.” – George Dei


his quotation by George Dei encapsulates what the NSDA is striving to accomplish in conjunction with the speech and debate community. “Caucusing for Change: Envisioning A New Way Forward,” our cover story in the 2017 September/ October issue of Rostrum, focused on themes that arose from our series of Coaches’ Caucuses at the 2017 National Tournament. The subtitle emphasizes turning words into action. Themes and specific recommendations from the caucuses have been a central focus of NSDA Directors meetings this past fall and winter. Through a series of surveys, reflections, readings, and an evaluation of our capacity, the Board of Directors’ Governance Committee approved a number of proposals in January slated for completion by the conclusion of the 2018 National Tournament. Below, you will find the commitments we have made for this school year. By June, we plan to accomplish the following items. 1.

Develop a process to involve multiple stakeholders in writing a public commitment to inclusion.

2. Implement processes that will increase the diversity of judges throughout the entirety of the National Tournament. Meanwhile, actively share and promote, to the judges and to the membership, the value of having diverse perspectives when crowning a national champion.



3. Increase the diversity of National Tournament officials. 4. Collect information on the current diversity of District Committees with a draft of ideas for increasing diversity on the local level available for community feedback. 5. Continually work to increase diversity of webinar presenters. 6. Create a webinar series on issues of identity for students and coaches, with at least one before Nationals. 7. Increase awareness of the Coaches’ Caucuses meeting times and locations prior to Nationals with hopes of increasing attendance. 8. Contact coaches of previous finalists to gather data on the gender breakdown for NSDA final rounds to identify trends. 9. Review the process for selecting alumni and other adult award winners to ensure they share the NSDA’s commitment to inclusion. 10. Complete a draft version of a best practices guide for tournaments concerning gender-neutral restrooms. 11. Amend the judge paradigm for Nationals to ask judges their pronoun. 12. Identify consultants to provide cultural competence training for coaches for the 2018-2019 school year. We are also working with the NFHS to include cultural competency as an element of judge training resources. 13. Add books to the online NSDA store that cover issues of diversity/ inclusion from more diverse authors. 14. Identify authors to produce a Rostrum article on gender identity with vocabulary terms and pronouns for publication during the 2018-2019 school year.

15. Draft a guideline for optional use in team manuals that offers a dress code which is not gendered and is inclusive of transgender and intersex students for feedback and revision. 16. Create templates for schools to invite superintendents and principals to attend tournaments. The templates will exist to a) invite key leadership positions at their schools; b) encourage district leadership to invite school leadership to their district tournament, with a focus on school administrators from underresourced and underfunded schools; and c) invite the school administrators from under-resourced and underfunded schools to attend the National Tournament. 17. Enhance and market the available training on our tabulation tools and services for the 2018-2019 season to make running and hosting tournaments easier for new audiences. While we hope these steps will help “create a better space for everyone,” we know our work is just beginning. This list is not exhaustive of our diversity and inclusion work. The Board of Directors named inclusion as a core value in our new strategic plan, and we are always looking for additional ways to produce inclusive programs and outcomes. The support of the Caucuses is meaningful, ongoing, and instrumental in our ability to progress. We are grateful to the individuals who have helped inform our actions and look forward to future recommendations. If you would like more information, or have suggestions for assisting our inclusion efforts, please contact Executive Director Scott Wunn at director@speechanddebate.org.

Steve Schappaugh is the Director of Community Engagement for the NSDA.