Mar 18, 2007

marathon Student Congress; rules changes in works

Why blogging has been light recently: the state Debate and Student Congress tournament at UPS, where four CHS students competed over two days. Yesterday's Congress session started at 9:00, went 'til 11:00, broke for lunch, resumed at 1:00 for the Super Session with all the top speakers, and did not get out until 7:00.

It was the first time that I can remember Congress taking longer than Debate, which finished before 5:00.

No more.

After two days of debate, politicking, rising for points of personal privilege, and sitting in uncomfortable chairs, a six-hour final session is not only tedious, but torturous, and disrespectful to those who have lives outside of forensics, who have made plans dependent on Congress ending at a reasonable hour.

Thus, for next year, I'm proposing several changes.

First, limiting preliminary rounds to the first day, as is done in Debate.

Second, establishing an efficient, clear, and consistent way to elect presiding officers. The process took 45 minutes in the Super Session. My method: write all the candidates' names on the board. Vote by paper ballot, and eliminate the bottom half (rounding up if the number is odd, say, 4 out of 7), and voting again for those who remain, removing the bottom half again until a clear winner is chosen. In case of tie, the parliamentarian decides.

Third, limiting each P.O. to an hour of work, and making the parliamentarian the P.O. in any deliberation time exceeding two hours. This way the debate could last three hours instead of four--no need to worry about scoring 1.5-hour P.O.-ing.

If you have any suggestions from experience, or better ideas than mine, please comment. I'll be taking these recommendations to the spring coaches' meeting. Congress has improved mightily over the past several years, but it still needs fixing.

1 comment:

TheTachyix said...

I will once again describe the old way and reiterate how wonderful it is.

-Five two-hour sessions Each session brought a new chance to get on the ballot, and it was shorter than recent atrocities. If there is a competition between the winners of each house, keep the P.O. awards in the prelim rounds. Or better yet, just don't do it.
-One parliamentarian who nominated two contestants to the ballot per round and one speaking judge who nominated two speakers per round. With the new emphasis on procedure, the ability of the parliamentarian to nominate people is more important than before. Likewise, the new 8-point system for speakers makes for a more accurate spread.
-Let the students give at least one prize. They're the only people who are in the room for the whole time. They know who's fronting and who isn't. Being accountable only to the judges makes for a boring round.