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  • #61
    I think it should be pointed out here the contrary to what many people have implied in their responses to arguments in favor of more representation on the board or on this committee nobody here has suggested that Miami had “rigged the system” in their favor or done something that would specifically give them an advantage. Nobody has said that the board is acting in an unethical or unfair way. But to say “hey we probably shouldn’t have a heavy concentration of people all with the same affiliation (whether its their official affiliation or not) or the same background” is different from saying “Miami is directly rigging the system” or "the board hates students" and it is, I think a valid point regardless of whether someone can prove that there has been a specific case of Miami Rigging the system.

    First, with regard to the argument based on whether you can prove it, enough of what the board does is done privately (in some case for good reason in other cases not) that we don’t know exactly who has what advantage, and no student (I’m assuming QuickQuotesQuill is a student) would be able to prove anything based on the information we have at our disposal. Remember that board activities don’t just include the policies we see in the agenda. They involve a whole host of other things like case writing, case editing (remember that some of the board sees the case before the rest of us do), sanction decisions, decisions made at tournaments by reps etc. Most of those aren’t published and fly under the radar. That doesn’t mean that Miami has done anything (and I’m not claiming that they have), its just means that if they did, we might not know. I think the concern is that with that many people on the board they could shift things in their favor and just saying “well they are good people so they won’t” is not exactly reassuring.

    Second, of course none of the big policies of the board are going to be specifically favoring Miami over other programs. That would, I certainly hope, get caught and stopped. But there is a difference between a blatantly program favoring motion where you can point to it and say “this policy specifically favors this program” (like “programs from Ohio automatically get an extra ballot”) and general AMTA trends. Every member of AMTA has preferences for what the “right type” of mock trial is. Its the board’s job to focus things so that the right types of strategies win (by changing the rules to prohibit things they think are unfair or bad, by changing the case to rule out theories the don’t like, etc). Presumably the coaches on the board train their team to play mock trial in the way they think of as the “right way.” Thus, if they shape mock trial to promote what they believe is the right type of mock, they will both be doing their job as board members exactly as they are supposed to and promoting their own team. To take an obvious example think about invention. Suppose you believe that lots of invention is bad. Then as a board member you might take action to curtail invention. You would also probably train your team not to invent. Thus the policies you propose that curtail invention would also help your team. In other words they don’t have to be “unethical” or “rigging it” to be giving their own team an advantage. But that also means that its really important to have lots of view points from lots of different programs (not just in terms of elite vs. non-elite or student vs. coach run or funded vs. not funded but in terms of ideology) and having too many people from the same program is not great because it just promotes their view of what the “right type” of mock is which may not be shared by other.

    And that brings us to this specific committee. They are making a big decision. There are only ten of them. These ten people need to come up with a proposal that may drastically change our tournament structure. In discussions like that, they will need to come up with goals and parameters for what makes a good structure. They will need to trouble shoot for potential problems. When one is trying to do those things the first things that will come to mind are the ways that the structure affects ones own program and the programs with which one has been affiliated. For example, the first thing I thought of when I read the “super bowl” proposal was “wow that sounds expensive” because my program has no money. This doesn’t mean that the board members are bad or biased or trying to rig things, just that they can only operate from their own experience and the experiences of people they’ve talked to. Again, this means that its important to have as many different programs represented as possible. So its not that I think its a problem to have voices from Miami, its that having so many in a small group limits the number of people from other programs and means we won’t get as much diversity of opinion and experience.

    Comment


    • #62
      Originally posted by QuickQuotesQuill View Post

      So I want to parse out exactly what my point is here because I don't think this accurately represents what I expressed. My issue isn't with the composition of the AMTA board as a whole, and I agree that there haven't been any policies that specifically benefit Miami (there are some that benefit elite programs but that's a different discussion). My primary issue is with the composition of *this committee* and specifically my belief that establishment elite programs (and specifically Miami) are over represented in this group of 10 people that will be coming up with radical changes to our tournament structure. Like I said in my previous post, I'm very curious to hear out Plymouth Djinn on how he and the others who have been very competitively successful, think they'll be able to account for the needs of the programs who don't have any of that history when coming up with this structure such that we can get a whole bunch more teams making ORCS and Nationals for the first time
      This Committee is tasked with examining AMTA's tournament structure for NCT (and ostensibly ORCS and probably Regionals) and then making a recommendation for the board to review and potentially vote on. The Committee will not unilaterally change the AMTA tournament structure. So I don't agree with your statement that "this group of 10 people" will "be coming up with radical changes to our tournament structure." The Committee could decide to make no changes or small changes or changes implemented incrementally over years. But to paint this Committee as a fringe group with a radical agenda is not accurate.

      Also, if AMTA wants to create a committee for the purpose of analyzing NCT, doesn't it behoove AMTA to assign a majority of people to the committee that have been to NCT (be it as a competitor, coach, or AMTA rep)? Moreover, aside from anecdotal feedback, AMTA should want to place individuals on the committee that have extensive experience on running tournaments, being AMTA representatives, hosting tournaments, and/or have been in AMTA long enough to remember the different systems that have been used over AMTA's history. That is the relevant makeup of the committee, not just the institutional labels previously discussed.

      My first NCT was the 16th National Championship and I have attended every NCT since. That is not said to be boastful, but rather to provide context for my viewpoint. The structure of our system is drastically different than it was in the spring of 2000 when I first attended NCT--tabulation, the size of the tournament, rules of evidence and AMTA's rules, and the static location of the tournament are just a few of the significant changes in AMTA's structure/system since Dan, Toby, Justin, Jonathan, Abbe, Missi, and I competed. The members of this committee all come to the table with different life and AMTA experiences. We don't all share the same philosophy on what defines "good mock trial" or how AMTA should be run. I anticipate substantial discussion--in terms of time spent and topics covered--about the future of AMTA and how to best create a system that meets our academic goals of reaching as many schools as possible, and still provides a product of high value competitively.

      The fact that, the now infamous, TAC 02 motion was killed in committee evinces AMTA's ongoing quality commitment to its members and to implementing change only after considerable and thoughtful review. As I, and my fellow authors of that motion, stated at the board meeting, TAC 02 was designed to get people talking. We believed AMTA needed to assess the growing number of schools (which is a good thing) and whether our current tournament structure accomplishes what AMTA wants it to accomplish. That short-term goal has been achieved.

      As far as the specific concern of whether I can reasonably address the concerns of young programs or programs that seek to qualify for ORCS or NCT for the first time: I respond with a question to you QuickQuotesQuill. What do you believe are the specific issues that I, and my ilk, will be unable to adequately address? Iowa was a fledgling program when I joined. I have also coached middle school and high school teams that were new or underdog programs. But I don't pretend to know everything. Hence, why I asked for constructive input and am glad we have engaged in this dialogue. Generalizations or vague statements about concerns that all teams that have not qualified for NCT hold doesn't help me understand what specific issues need to be considered. Are you talking about general funding, travel costs, strain on academic calendars, competitive equality, geographical access, performance-style bias, etc?

      I think Will has done a very good job of constructing an experienced committee with a very broad set of viewpoints. As The Gelf addressed, we all come to the committee with different AMTA/mock trial experiences as well.

      I didn't join the board to promote an "elite-team agenda"; my board membership pre-dates my coaching tenure at Miami. Rather, I joined the board to give back to a community and activity that provided me with a very positive and rewarding experience in college. I cannot speak for my colleagues on the board but I would imagine most of them are in the same boat as I am. We are volunteers that sacrifice our free time and personal income to keep AMTA an organization that provides its current members with the same rewarding experience and educational value that we all received as competitors or coaches. Our composition is dependent on the volunteers who are willing to give up their time and money to help. AMTA doesn't cherry pick it's board members from only the "Establishment." Until the board has more people from schools that have not been to NCT, I will continue to ask for constructive feedback.
      My rants and ramblings are my own and should not be attached to others.

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by The_Quibbler View Post
        I think it should be pointed out here the contrary to what many people have implied in their responses to arguments in favor of more representation on the board or on this committee nobody here has suggested that Miami had “rigged the system” in their favor or done something that would specifically give them an advantage. Nobody has said that the board is acting in an unethical or unfair way. But to say “hey we probably shouldn’t have a heavy concentration of people all with the same affiliation (whether its their official affiliation or not) or the same background” is different from saying “Miami is directly rigging the system” or "the board hates students" and it is, I think a valid point regardless of whether someone can prove that there has been a specific case of Miami Rigging the system.

        First, with regard to the argument based on whether you can prove it, enough of what the board does is done privately (in some case for good reason in other cases not) that we don’t know exactly who has what advantage, and no student (I’m assuming QuickQuotesQuill is a student) would be able to prove anything based on the information we have at our disposal. Remember that board activities don’t just include the policies we see in the agenda. They involve a whole host of other things like case writing, case editing (remember that some of the board sees the case before the rest of us do), sanction decisions, decisions made at tournaments by reps etc. Most of those aren’t published and fly under the radar. That doesn’t mean that Miami has done anything (and I’m not claiming that they have), its just means that if they did, we might not know. I think the concern is that with that many people on the board they could shift things in their favor and just saying “well they are good people so they won’t” is not exactly reassuring.
        Of course, no proposal (especially a major change to our tournament structure) should fly by lightly based on the notion that it's proposed by "good people." The costs and benefits should always be scrutinized, and I hope that non-board members who attended our most recent meeting would agree that we did that (at least for the major things). There was vigorous opposition expressed to some of the motions, even though nobody doubted the good faith of the people who made them. I'm not really sure what "under the radar" concerns there would be with a change in tournament structure. The most glaring issues (including the very well-taken concern about significant increases in travel and lodging costs) would likely be pretty straightforward.

        Originally posted by The_Quibbler View Post
        Second, of course none of the big policies of the board are going to be specifically favoring Miami over other programs. That would, I certainly hope, get caught and stopped. But there is a difference between a blatantly program favoring motion where you can point to it and say “this policy specifically favors this program” (like “programs from Ohio automatically get an extra ballot”) and general AMTA trends. Every member of AMTA has preferences for what the “right type” of mock trial is. Its the board’s job to focus things so that the right types of strategies win (by changing the rules to prohibit things they think are unfair or bad, by changing the case to rule out theories the don’t like, etc). Presumably the coaches on the board train their team to play mock trial in the way they think of as the “right way.” Thus, if they shape mock trial to promote what they believe is the right type of mock, they will both be doing their job as board members exactly as they are supposed to and promoting their own team. To take an obvious example think about invention. Suppose you believe that lots of invention is bad. Then as a board member you might take action to curtail invention. You would also probably train your team not to invent. Thus the policies you propose that curtail invention would also help your team. In other words they don’t have to be “unethical” or “rigging it” to be giving their own team an advantage. But that also means that its really important to have lots of view points from lots of different programs (not just in terms of elite vs. non-elite or student vs. coach run or funded vs. not funded but in terms of ideology) and having too many people from the same program is not great because it just promotes their view of what the “right type” of mock is which may not be shared by other.
        The flaw here is the assumption that all coaches (or at least all coaches on the board or this committee) do things the same way. I can assure you that's not true. Some coaches coach "right up to the line" regardless of what they think the rules should be. Other people do it differently. Truthfully, I'm not even sure I could pin a general practice on myself with that. That said, I certainly agree we should have lots of viewpoints. And I think we accomplish that with a committee making a proposal, that proposal goes public (and is subject to input from all, including students) and then must be voted on by the entire board after open debate.

        Originally posted by The_Quibbler View Post
        And that brings us to this specific committee. They are making a big decision. There are only ten of them. These ten people need to come up with a proposal that may drastically change our tournament structure. In discussions like that, they will need to come up with goals and parameters for what makes a good structure. They will need to trouble shoot for potential problems. When one is trying to do those things the first things that will come to mind are the ways that the structure affects ones own program and the programs with which one has been affiliated. For example, the first thing I thought of when I read the “super bowl” proposal was “wow that sounds expensive” because my program has no money. This doesn’t mean that the board members are bad or biased or trying to rig things, just that they can only operate from their own experience and the experiences of people they’ve talked to. Again, this means that its important to have as many different programs represented as possible. So its not that I think its a problem to have voices from Miami, its that having so many in a small group limits the number of people from other programs and means we won’t get as much diversity of opinion and experience.
        They are not making a "decision." They are formulating a proposal that the entire board may accept, reject, change, refer back to them (or other committees), etc. Diversity of viewpoints is undoubtedly important -- I don't think anybody is disputing that. And other posts have explored the affiliations of members of this committee, so I won't repeat that stuff. But I think it's a bit misleading to lump Judge Haughey, Mr. Schuett, and Ms. Schuett together under the "Miami" banner, when two of them currently don't coach at Miami and they have all competed/coached at various other programs during their careers.

        And while diversity is an important criteria, it's not the only criteria. This committee is largely made up of current and former TAC/Tab committee chairs and members -- the people who deal most closely with tournament logistics and team placements. And the people who are likely in the best position to give an informed opinion about the probable affects of any particular change.


        Mock Trial with J. Reinhold! Mock Trial! Mock Trial with J. Reinhold!

        Comment


        • #64
          Originally posted by The_Quibbler View Post
          First, with regard to the argument based on whether you can prove it, enough of what the board does is done privately (in some case for good reason in other cases not) that we don’t know exactly who has what advantage, and no student (I’m assuming QuickQuotesQuill is a student) would be able to prove anything based on the information we have at our disposal. Remember that board activities don’t just include the policies we see in the agenda. They involve a whole host of other things like case writing, case editing (remember that some of the board sees the case before the rest of us do), sanction decisions, decisions made at tournaments by reps etc. Most of those aren’t published and fly under the radar. That doesn’t mean that Miami has done anything (and I’m not claiming that they have), its just means that if they did, we might not know. I think the concern is that with that many people on the board they could shift things in their favor and just saying “well they are good people so they won’t” is not exactly reassuring.
          Miami has exactly one affiliated person on the board. Me. There is no "they." Miami Mock Trial is not a monolithic organization or secretive cabal bent on AMTA domination. When Dan Haughey was in Miami Mock Trial it was a student-run program and had never been to NCT. He wasn't coaching in 2001 when Miami won it's first title. His experience at Miami is not the same those that everyone keeps calling "Miami" as if it were a timeless and unchanging entity that had always been a "competitively-elite" program. (Candidate) Andy Hogan competed under director emeritus Dan Herron in the late 90s/early 00s when Miami was an upstart program and first arriving on the NCT scene. Alex Bluebond competed under Dan Haughey in the late 00s when Miami was an established program. Even though those three men competed for Miami University, their AMTA and Miami Mock Trial experiences were not the same. Their mock trial philosophies are not the same. "Miami" is not a hive mind set. And each one of those men have gone on to create new programs with new challenges that have shaped their viewpoints and provided them with unique experiences to bring to the board.

          I did not compete for Miami. I was not "raised" under the roof of Miami Mock Trial. Many of the systems currently in place now at Miami are reflections of my (and Missi's) time at Iowa and were completely foreign to Miami--some even in direct contradiction to previous administrative policies/philosophies. Aside from being affiliated with Miami University, and maintaining a high-competitive level, Miami Mock Trial, under all the various board members people keep lumping together, is not a unified program across time with a singular dogmatic philosophy re: mock trial.


          Second, of course none of the big policies of the board are going to be specifically favoring Miami over other programs. That would, I certainly hope, get caught and stopped. But there is a difference between a blatantly program favoring motion where you can point to it and say “this policy specifically favors this program” (like “programs from Ohio automatically get an extra ballot”) and general AMTA trends. Every member of AMTA has preferences for what the “right type” of mock trial is. Its the board’s job to focus things so that the right types of strategies win (by changing the rules to prohibit things they think are unfair or bad, by changing the case to rule out theories the don’t like, etc). Presumably the coaches on the board train their team to play mock trial in the way they think of as the “right way.” Thus, if they shape mock trial to promote what they believe is the right type of mock, they will both be doing their job as board members exactly as they are supposed to and promoting their own team. To take an obvious example think about invention. Suppose you believe that lots of invention is bad. Then as a board member you might take action to curtail invention. You would also probably train your team not to invent. Thus the policies you propose that curtail invention would also help your team. In other words they don’t have to be “unethical” or “rigging it” to be giving their own team an advantage. But that also means that its really important to have lots of view points from lots of different programs (not just in terms of elite vs. non-elite or student vs. coach run or funded vs. not funded but in terms of ideology) and having too many people from the same program is not great because it just promotes their view of what the “right type” of mock is which may not be shared by other.
          Miami pre-Herron, under Herron, under Haughey, and now under me are vastly different systems that have very different viewpoints on how to do "good mock trial." Also, if you look at the majority of the motions made year-after-year, they are not coming from members with even attenuated temporal-proximity to Miami. Also, most of AMTA's rules govern very little in terms of presentation-style. Judge presentations do not tell them what is "Good" vs. "Bad" mock trial. Moreover, I have never imposed my "brand" of mock trial on the board or politicked to do so. As I said before, I take my fiduciary duty very seriously.

          And that brings us to this specific committee. They are making a big decision. There are only ten of them. These ten people need to come up with a proposal that may drastically change our tournament structure. In discussions like that, they will need to come up with goals and parameters for what makes a good structure. They will need to trouble shoot for potential problems. When one is trying to do those things the first things that will come to mind are the ways that the structure affects ones own program and the programs with which one has been affiliated. For example, the first thing I thought of when I read the “super bowl” proposal was “wow that sounds expensive” because my program has no money. This doesn’t mean that the board members are bad or biased or trying to rig things, just that they can only operate from their own experience and the experiences of people they’ve talked to. Again, this means that its important to have as many different programs represented as possible. So its not that I think its a problem to have voices from Miami, its that having so many in a small group limits the number of people from other programs and means we won’t get as much diversity of opinion and experience.
          See my response to QuickQuotesQuill on the purpose and composition of the committee. I also turn to you The_Quibbler to provide specific concerns you believe I am ignorant of and I will discuss them with you and take them into consideration when the committee starts its work.
          My rants and ramblings are my own and should not be attached to others.

          Comment


          • #65
            Originally posted by Plymouth Djinn View Post

            This Committee is tasked with examining AMTA's tournament structure for NCT (and ostensibly ORCS and probably Regionals) and then making a recommendation for the board to review and potentially vote on. The Committee will not unilaterally change the AMTA tournament structure. So I don't agree with your statement that "this group of 10 people" will "be coming up with radical changes to our tournament structure." The Committee could decide to make no changes or small changes or changes implemented incrementally over years. But to paint this Committee as a fringe group with a radical agenda is not accurate.

            Also, if AMTA wants to create a committee for the purpose of analyzing NCT, doesn't it behoove AMTA to assign a majority of people to the committee that have been to NCT (be it as a competitor, coach, or AMTA rep)? Moreover, aside from anecdotal feedback, AMTA should want to place individuals on the committee that have extensive experience on running tournaments, being AMTA representatives, hosting tournaments, and/or have been in AMTA long enough to remember the different systems that have been used over AMTA's history. That is the relevant makeup of the committee, not just the institutional labels previously discussed.

            My first NCT was the 16th National Championship and I have attended every NCT since. That is not said to be boastful, but rather to provide context for my viewpoint. The structure of our system is drastically different than it was in the spring of 2000 when I first attended NCT--tabulation, the size of the tournament, rules of evidence and AMTA's rules, and the static location of the tournament are just a few of the significant changes in AMTA's structure/system since Dan, Toby, Justin, Jonathan, Abbe, Missi, and I competed. The members of this committee all come to the table with different life and AMTA experiences. We don't all share the same philosophy on what defines "good mock trial" or how AMTA should be run. I anticipate substantial discussion--in terms of time spent and topics covered--about the future of AMTA and how to best create a system that meets our academic goals of reaching as many schools as possible, and still provides a product of high value competitively.

            The fact that, the now infamous, TAC 02 motion was killed in committee evinces AMTA's ongoing quality commitment to its members and to implementing change only after considerable and thoughtful review. As I, and my fellow authors of that motion, stated at the board meeting, TAC 02 was designed to get people talking. We believed AMTA needed to assess the growing number of schools (which is a good thing) and whether our current tournament structure accomplishes what AMTA wants it to accomplish. That short-term goal has been achieved.

            As far as the specific concern of whether I can reasonably address the concerns of young programs or programs that seek to qualify for ORCS or NCT for the first time: I respond with a question to you QuickQuotesQuill. What do you believe are the specific issues that I, and my ilk, will be unable to adequately address? Iowa was a fledgling program when I joined. I have also coached middle school and high school teams that were new or underdog programs. But I don't pretend to know everything. Hence, why I asked for constructive input and am glad we have engaged in this dialogue. Generalizations or vague statements about concerns that all teams that have not qualified for NCT hold doesn't help me understand what specific issues need to be considered. Are you talking about general funding, travel costs, strain on academic calendars, competitive equality, geographical access, performance-style bias, etc?

            I think Will has done a very good job of constructing an experienced committee with a very broad set of viewpoints. As The Gelf addressed, we all come to the committee with different AMTA/mock trial experiences as well.

            I didn't join the board to promote an "elite-team agenda"; my board membership pre-dates my coaching tenure at Miami. Rather, I joined the board to give back to a community and activity that provided me with a very positive and rewarding experience in college. I cannot speak for my colleagues on the board but I would imagine most of them are in the same boat as I am. We are volunteers that sacrifice our free time and personal income to keep AMTA an organization that provides its current members with the same rewarding experience and educational value that we all received as competitors or coaches. Our composition is dependent on the volunteers who are willing to give up their time and money to help. AMTA doesn't cherry pick it's board members from only the "Establishment." Until the board has more people from schools that have not been to NCT, I will continue to ask for constructive feedback.
            Addressing the last part of your response first - if it’s come across at all like I’m not wildly grateful for you (and your colleagues) giving up your time and money to create this experience for us, I deeply apologize for that. My coach is on the Board too, so I know how how much work it is and how valuable the commitment you all have made it. All of us here owe you and Gelf and the members of this committee and the members of the board a sincere thanks.

            Then heading back to the top - I certainly didn’t intend to paint the committee as any kind of fringe group and probably the use of the word “radical” was out of place, but based on the needs that are arising in the AMTA community, isn’t it more likely that this committee will at least propose substantial changes to the structure? We all acknowledge that the current structure isn’t tenable so no changes isn’t really an option. The minimal and gradual changes over time could work, but they’d have to match at least the amount of growth per year of the number of AMTA schools which alone is a fairly significant number. My big point here is that I think it’s likely the changes proposed will be at least somewhat major.

            To your next point - isn’t this committee to look at the tournament structure as a whole? To see if we have enough Regionals to fit all teams, to see how many regionals bids feed into each ORC, to see if we need to add ORCS or expand the field as well as reduce the geographical travel that some teams hit, and then get to the number of bids to NCT? I agree with all of your points about experience, but the members’ background and perspective they’ll be able to bring is certainly also relevant.

            My first instinct when I respond to your question is to focus on academic calendars, but as I think about it more I do have a clarification question - what exactly do people think the goal of this committee is? Is it to open up the structure such that more teams can qualify to ORCS and qualify to Nationals for the first time? Is it to build a system that ensures the best (48/64) teams in the country are the ones that get to NCT?

            all of this said though, the committee has already been picked and to a large extent, I agree with what Gelf has said that this committee will do well.

            To the community at large, as this discussion has shown here, this committee wants input from all of us on what they’re doing. Please please please email the members, post here on Perjuries, do anything to make your voice heard. I’ve raised some concerns about lack of perspective here, and in large part they’ve been addressed. But the absolute best way that anyone concerned about bias or impropriety or anything like that can help the problem is to reach out and provide whatever perspective you think is missing

            Comment


            • #66
              Originally posted by Plymouth Djinn View Post
              See my response to QuickQuotesQuill on the purpose and composition of the committee. I also turn to you The_Quibbler to provide specific concerns you believe I am ignorant of and I will discuss them with you and take them into consideration when the committee starts its work.
              Do you have someone who has spent extensive time competing or coaching for a quarter system school with the new-case for nationals system so that a plan can be put in place for avoiding the situation we have this year where, for some of them, the 3 weeks of case prep includes both finals and spring break? Do you have someone from one of the recent northeastern powers (and yes, I know Bernstein worked with NYU years ago, but NYU had a very different style back then, and, as you keep pointing out, program style over time matters), who seem to play a distinctive style (as has been commented on extensively) that does poorly at ORCS but really well at most NCTs? Do you have someone from a school that was bad before the new case and good after it (because thats something that will be affected by a new structure)? Do you have someone from a good Pacific Northwest Program for whom getting anywhere is terrible? And those are just the categories I can think of in a couple minutes. I'm probably missing some because I also have a limited experience and would never dream of claiming to be able to represent the needs and concerns of everyone in AMTA.

              I'm not saying that you have to have someone from every category out there. I'm just saying that having a high concentration of people all with ties to the same school (particularly in the case of you and Missi, who have extremely similar affiliation resumes) feels a little much to the some of us who may not have someone from our background to represent us. I'm also not saying that you won't take your fiduciary duties very seriously. As I feel like I have said 100 times now, nobody is accusing you of being unethical. Nobody is saying that if someone comes in and says "hey, school A that is not represented here presents this big, non-obvious issue that we should address" you will ignore it in favor of Miami's concerns. The question is who is going to be the person who comes in and spots the non-obvious issues. And that's why, from the very beginning, my concern wasn't "the board is evil, lets have anarchy" it was "I really hope they don't make this a committee of the same board members as usual and not open the matter up for official public discussion from the very beginning" (and before you say that if we have any concerns we should just post them on perjuries, keep in mind that perjuries is a relatively small slice of the AMTA community even by itself).

              Comment


              • #67
                Originally posted by The_Quibbler View Post

                Do you have someone who has spent extensive time competing or coaching for a quarter system school with the new-case for nationals system so that a plan can be put in place for avoiding the situation we have this year where, for some of them, the 3 weeks of case prep includes both finals and spring break? Do you have someone from one of the recent northeastern powers (and yes, I know Bernstein worked with NYU years ago, but NYU had a very different style back then, and, as you keep pointing out, program style over time matters), who seem to play a distinctive style (as has been commented on extensively) that does poorly at ORCS but really well at most NCTs? Do you have someone from a school that was bad before the new case and good after it (because thats something that will be affected by a new structure)? Do you have someone from a good Pacific Northwest Program for whom getting anywhere is terrible? And those are just the categories I can think of in a couple minutes. I'm probably missing some because I also have a limited experience and would never dream of claiming to be able to represent the needs and concerns of everyone in AMTA.

                I'm not saying that you have to have someone from every category out there. I'm just saying that having a high concentration of people all with ties to the same school (particularly in the case of you and Missi, who have extremely similar affiliation resumes) feels a little much to the some of us who may not have someone from our background to represent us. I'm also not saying that you won't take your fiduciary duties very seriously. As I feel like I have said 100 times now, nobody is accusing you of being unethical. Nobody is saying that if someone comes in and says "hey, school A that is not represented here presents this big, non-obvious issue that we should address" you will ignore it in favor of Miami's concerns. The question is who is going to be the person who comes in and spots the non-obvious issues. And that's why, from the very beginning, my concern wasn't "the board is evil, lets have anarchy" it was "I really hope they don't make this a committee of the same board members as usual and not open the matter up for official public discussion from the very beginning" (and before you say that if we have any concerns we should just post them on perjuries, keep in mind that perjuries is a relatively small slice of the AMTA community even by itself).
                This committee is filled with the Tab and TAC people (Woodward, Adam Detsky, Missi, Neal, Haughey, Mike Walsh, Devon, etc.) who deal with many (if not most) of the issues you mention every year. Part of the "new business" at the board meeting this year was extending the geographical exception for the two-team per regional rule, that is in place specifically to accommodate the Pacific Northwest teams. That motion (to my knowledge) was prepared by Detsky and presented by Missi.
                Last edited by The Gelf; August 10th, 2018, 06:09 PM.
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                • #68
                  Originally posted by The_Quibbler View Post

                  Do you have someone who has spent extensive time competing or coaching for a quarter system school with the new-case for nationals system so that a plan can be put in place for avoiding the situation we have this year where, for some of them, the 3 weeks of case prep includes both finals and spring break? Do you have someone from one of the recent northeastern powers (and yes, I know Bernstein worked with NYU years ago, but NYU had a very different style back then, and, as you keep pointing out, program style over time matters), who seem to play a distinctive style (as has been commented on extensively) that does poorly at ORCS but really well at most NCTs? Do you have someone from a school that was bad before the new case and good after it (because thats something that will be affected by a new structure)? Do you have someone from a good Pacific Northwest Program for whom getting anywhere is terrible? And those are just the categories I can think of in a couple minutes. I'm probably missing some because I also have a limited experience and would never dream of claiming to be able to represent the needs and concerns of everyone in AMTA.
                  I think the point that people are trying to make is that they don't actually need someone on the committee who has done any of those things to take those factors into consideration - assuming all of those things should be taken into consideration. As The Gelf points out, the people on the committee have been dealing with issues other than their own as members of the Board. They also talk with people in the AMTA community who have concerns other than their own.

                  Perhaps some of the confusion on your position comes from your earlier comment that is "a definite necessity" that AMTA have 5-10 students on the committee. Personally, after reading this discussion, I feel better knowing that students are not on the committee.
                  Last edited by ImproperCharacter; August 10th, 2018, 03:54 PM.

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by ImproperCharacter View Post

                    I think the point that people are trying to make is that they don't actually need someone on the committee who has done any of those things to take those factors into consideration - assuming all of those things should be taken into consideration. As The Gelf points out, the people on the committee have been dealing with issues other than their own as members of the Board. They also talk with people in the AMTA community who have concerns other than their own.
                    I get that this is your point. My point is that I disagree that a group can have full representation if they have no official means of having their voice heard and must hope that others will speak for them. Right now, AMTA has no official means for people who are not on the board to be heard on a particular issue.

                    Suppose, by way of analogy, that it was decided (I have no idea why anyone would do something like this, but for the sake of a hypothetical, suppose someone did) that the state of Massachusetts no longer got any representation in congress. We could make a lot of arguments like the ones that you have made here. 1) You say that there are people on the board and on this committee who have done good things for other programs (student run, Pacific Northwest, etc.). Well, it’s not as though people in other states don’t care about the people of Massachusetts. They probably won’t pass any laws that specifically harm Massachusetts, and they will probably do good things for Massachusetts if it is shown that Massachusetts has a serious need (if, for example, there were a natural disaster, they would send relief). So, it’s not like nobody’s looking out for Massachusetts? 2) You say that you have a fiduciary duty to the whole of AMTA. The congressmen from other states have a duty, not only to the people of their state, but also to the country as a whole. This includes Massachusetts, and I’m sure they take that duty seriously. 3) You say that you know a lot about the problems facing other programs. Maybe some congressman from another state will take a particular interest in the people of Massachusetts and will get to know the particular problems facing Massachusetts by talking to people from the state (or by reading a lot about the economic and political situation within the state). So, that person might be able to bring Massachusetts’ concerns to the table. 4) You say that there are people who, once upon a time, had backgrounds similar to the programs we are now worried about. There are other states who are somewhat similar to Massachusetts (Rhode Island was once made up of people from Massachusetts!) and which have similar economies and political landscapes and resources, etc. So, shouldn’t those states be able to speak for Massachusetts?

                    I’m pretty darn sure that, despite all of the above, the people of the State of Massachusetts would be pretty mad at losing direct representation. They may not be able to point out a specific policy that has directly harmed them, they may know that there are people from other states who try to look out for them, but there is nothing that guarantees that this will continue or that people from other states will keep being nice to them. They worry that the people from other states may have a macro-level picture of the obvious problems their state faces but lack a personal knowledge of what is going on on a day to day basis. In other words, they don’t feel that they are fully represented. And they would be right.

                    This is how some of us feel at times when we see the lack of any official way for us to make our voices heard. We just have to sit back and hope that AMTA gets it right and doesn’t overlook something we see as crucial.

                    Now I completely understand that the matter of who gets on the board or on a committee cannot be as cut and dry as how many people a state gets in congress. We don’t have 50 or so well defined legislative units in AMTA. The only way to make sure that every program were perfectly represented would be to give every program a representative, and then there would be hundreds of people on board, and it would be a catastrophic nightmare both financially and organizationally.

                    But I do think this all means that every effort should be made to have a diversity of affiliation and that committees should be more open to the wider community, so that its not just the same board members from the same few programs making the decisions every time. I think one way to guarantee that that happens would be to put a few students (preferably including some from less well represented groups) on the committee but there may be other ways and I would love to heard some. But I don't see that happening right now when I look at this committee. I also think it means that there should be an official way for students and community members to provide feedback. There needs to be an official solicitation of advice from the community and an official way for people to submit proposals, suggestions, and critiques. Because, right now, all we can do is write long essays on Perjuries/email and hope that someone listens (which they are under no obligation to do).

                    Originally posted by ImproperCharacter View Post
                    Perhaps some of the confusion on your position comes from your earlier comment that is "a definite necessity" that AMTA have 5-10 students on the committee. Personally, after reading this discussion, I feel better knowing that students are not on the committee.
                    Perhaps “necessity” was an overstatement. Maybe I should have said “long overdue step in the right direction.” You may note, however, that the primary point of the post you just cherry-picked was that 1) I didn’t want the decision to be made without outside input and that there needed to be some sort of official call for input and official way of sending comments, and 2) I didn’t want the committee to end up being too homogeneous and tilted towards established programs. And that’s exactly what I have argued all along.

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                    • #70
                      Yes, thank you for that. I understand the idea of representative democracy just fine. But AMTA isn’’’t one. It’’s an organization that provides an educational service. You are right that they aren’’t under an obligation to listen to every thought a student or coach like you or me has. They shouldn’’t be.

                      But they provide more official ways to be heard than any similar organization I’’’ve seen. The Board Meeting is open to the public - not just the agenda. You or I could literally go to speak at the Board Meeting! Every member of the Board has their email address on AMTA’’s website. The President of the organization even puts his phone number on the website! Those are the official ways to be heard.
                      Last edited by ImproperCharacter; August 11th, 2018, 03:16 AM.

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                      • #71
                        In addition, board members often make motions on behalf of non-board members that get heard and considered like any other motion. One of the motions that caused the most angst on this message board was the motion to ban taking pictures of tab cards. Mike Walsh made that motion (which I would be surprised if he actually supported) at the request of two non-board members. In addition, there was written student feedback made to several motions on the agenda, which was circulated to all board members and candidate members for consideration prior to the board meeting. We're not a representative democracy, for sure (though Congress, like the board, has committees assigned to discreet issues that usually aren't representative of all of Congress). But the leadership of this board is really doing the best it can to make this as transparent and responsive an organization as possible.
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                        • #72
                          I hope none of my responses seemed dismissive, because I think this is a good conversation to be having. The tournament structure is going to have difficulty supporting continued growth, and somebody is likely to have a legitimate beef with whatever changes are ultimately made. Maybe one day, Iona will good enough so that people will lament the "excessive Iona influence" of having both Detsky and me on the board. (Devon also coached with me for a couple of months several years ago -- Iona's grip tightens. ).
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                          • #73
                            I don’t have much of a problem with this particular committee, and I think in most cases the board members are unbiased and acting in good faith. I assume that Warihay chose all of the people on this committee for good reasons. But I do think that there is a bit of a problem with Student/community input and that it should be discussed.

                            Regardless of which programs are represented and who has what influence, the fact is that the board is made up of 30 members and an even smaller number of programs (because some are unaffiliated). AMTA comprises hundreds of schools and thousands of students and coaches, each with their own problems/challenges/concerns. There is no way that the board can be entirely representative of every single person or program out there. And it would be unreasonable to demand that they were. Even if the board could represent every possible interest group in AMTA, it would still probably not be able to generate all of the ideas or spot all of the concerns that every member of AMTA has, simply by virtue of there being too few board members.

                            With that in mind, I think there are still some big ways that the board’s current practices are falling short of the ideal in allowing student input.

                            First: Non-board members cannot propose or suggest motions if there is a problem or change they want to see in AMTA. They just have to wait for the board to spot the problem and address it. Right now, the only people who can propose a motion are board members. That means that, at least by official rules, if you see a rules/structural change that needs to be made or a way of improving the system, and you aren’t a board member, you have no official way of suggesting it. Now sometimes this gets bent a bit. Sometimes coaches or well-connected AMTA community members convince a board member to propose a motion (like the tab card photos motion this year). But this option is only available to people with enough connections and influence to persuade a board member to propose a motion on their behalf. In other words, if a board member sees a problem, they can propose a solution and the board has to consider it. If anyone else sees a problem, nobody has to listen to them and it’s hard to gain enough support to get a proposal on the table.

                            Second: there is no official mechanism for students to comment on or make suggestions about the things the board is already doing or motions that are up for review. I’ve always found it very odd that the board is required to send out a copy of its agenda for public review before the meeting but provides no means of public comment. This is the announcement of the posted agenda for this year:

                            IMG_3265.jpg

                            The announcement has a link to the agenda, and it says that agenda is for “review,” but it doesn’t list any officially-approved way of commenting on that agenda or submitting feedback to the board. So, if we have concerns about that agenda, there isn’t any official way to voice them. What was the point of submitting for public review in the first place then?

                            Third: we still don’t fully know what goes on in committees or in the Board meetings. Like the minutes for many organizations, all the meeting minutes for the AMTA board meeting give us is a list of what motions passed and what motions failed. We don’t know what was discussed; we don’t know why motions passed/failed. If we see an issue with a passed motion, we don’t know whether it was something that was brought up and addressed or something that nobody thought of. We don’t know what the board was thinking and which way they lean on important issues. This leads both to confusion as to why the board does what it does and to programs feeling blindsided by motions.

                            For the committees, we get nothing. There are no minutes and no records of what was discussed. This leads to amplified versions of the above problems. For some committees, there are obvious reasons why this needs to be the case. The CRC doesn’t want everyone to know who has been accused of rules violations. The case committee doesn’t want secret case details to be available to the public. But for others (Rules, for instance, or the new Tournament Structure committee), there aren’t readily apparent reasons why proceedings have to be secret, and it would be nice to know what’s going on.

                            And again, there are exceptions. The main board meeting (although not the midyear meeting which is really important this year) is—technically—open to the public. But most of the public just can’t afford to get to the meeting location, so it’s not really open to us. The closest I’ve ever come to knowing what happened at any Board meeting, for instance, was the Mock Review Podcast a few weeks ago, where we heard Warihay’s speech. And that was a very small portion of the meeting. I certainly still have no clue exactly what was and was not said during deliberations.

                            Now, with regard to a lot of the above, I’m sure some will protest that you can email board members or post here, and the board might listen to what you have to say. And I want to start by thanking the board members who do take their time to listen and respond on this forum and by email. Your responsiveness means a lot to all of us. But there are some big issues with this forum and with informal emails as the primary means of communication with the board.

                            Not everyone knows about Perjuries. I think that, for a lot of us who are active on Perjuries, it feels like Perjuries is representative of all of AMTA, but that isn’t necessarily true. Perjuries is great, but it isn’t officially affiliated with AMTA, there is no link to Perjuries from the AMTA page, and there is no AMTA guide that refers you to Perjuries. That means that there will be teams and programs out there who haven’t happened to have heard about Perjuries (particularly since, every once in a while, Perjuries dies and takes a few years to recover, by which point many who knew about it will have graduated, leaving behind a newer generation with no idea it’s worth checking or posting on). Certainly, I don’t think there is widespread knowledge that those with an issue or concern ought to post on Perjuries so that AMTA will see it and maybe respond. Even then, there is no guarantee that an AMTA board member will see and respond.

                            Not everyone knows they have the right to email AMTA reps and be listened to, and certainly not everyone is going to feel comfortable doing so (even if, officially, there is nothing stopping them). I say this as someone who has by now reached out to board members via email on multiple occasions and has received a few very thoughtful responses. But the freshman-year version of me had many concerns about AMTA policy that were not addressed, because, back then, I wasn’t confident enough to reach out. I didn’t know whether AMTA would be receptive to an unsolicited email, since there was nowhere on the AMTA website where it said that feedback would be appreciated. I know many other people from less well-connected programs than mine who have expressed concerns to me in conversation but would never dream of reaching out to the board. Even when I did reach out, I had some people in my program advise me strongly against doing so, out of fear that we would face repercussions as a program for potentially controversial things that I said as an individual.

                            Compounding this is the fact that the 30 different board members have very different emailing habits. Some board members will respond to email with long, well thought-out responses that explain how the board is thinking about the issues you raised. Some will send a polite, one-sentence acknowledgement that they have read and will consider the issues raised in your email. Some will send a rude brush off, and some won’t respond at all. Those who aren’t well-connected enough to know which board members are which may send emails blindly and be left wondering whether anybody is listening.

                            And then there’s the fact that no matter how responsive your chosen email recipients are, nobody knows how seriously those emails are taken or how they fit in to the rest of the process. Are the things we say in emails simply thought about by one or two members of the board? Do they just get disregarded? Do they get discussed in committee? Do they get discussed by the full board? If you email a board member and they disagree with you, are they obliged to report your concerns to the committees/board nonetheless? It’s all a very below-ground process, and one that isn’t regulated, isn’t official, isn’t well explained, and seems pretty reliant on who has the right connections.

                            In short, informal media like blind emailing and posting on Perjuries should not be replacements for official channels of communication between AMTA and the rest of the community.

                            So, what could be done about all of this? Here are some particularly easy suggestions (although this list is by no means exhaustive and deliberately ignores anything that would require huge structural overhauls):
                            1. Publish audio recordings of the full board meetings. I know of some organizations that simply livestream their board meetings. This would be ideal, since it would allow people to know what’s going on in real time and maybe even send commentary in real time. I don’t know if the tech is available for that (although we seem to manage for the National Final pretty well), but, at the very least, an audio recording could be made with basic recording equipment (even the recording that bengarmoe made, with what I assume was his phone, was better than nothing) and sent out later. This would allow people who can’t afford to get to the meeting site to hear what happened at the “public” meeting.
                            2. If audio recordings aren’t an option, then more detailed minutes would be nice. Detailed minutes could include not only whether the motions passed or failed but also what was discussed and why the motions passed failed.
                            3. Minutes for non-secret committees (e.g. Rules or the new Tournament Structure committee).
                            4. When sending things out for public review, AMTA could actually say somewhere in the notice that they welcome feedback and give instructions on how best to give that feedback.
                            5. AMTA could have an official way to submit comments/concerns in general (maybe a special AMTA email address or a “comments” feature on the website or just a board member who was in charge of processing and responding to comments). They could make a commitment to reading and taking seriously anything sent through that official channel. They would also publicly explain on their website that this was the way to have one’s concerns addressed.
                            6. The Obama administration (and many, many other organizations) had a policy that if you could get a certain number of signatures on a petition they would have to take the time to respond to it and consider it as policy. AMTA could adopt a policy that if a certain number of community members signed a petition for a motion they would consider it as though it were a motion proposed by a board member. They could still decide within committee that it was a bad idea and table it, but they would have to at least discuss it in committee.
                            Last edited by Gadfly; August 11th, 2018, 09:30 AM. Reason: Picture didn't load the first time

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                            • #74
                              i actually like the idea that if a certain number of people sign on to a motion it should be considered by a committee. I think it should have to come from official school contacts and not any individual. The schools are the members of AMTA, not each individual person.

                              My principle thought is that’s it’s silly to think that the Board should have an obligation or be expected to consider each individual thought that gets sent their way. They are volunteers who run the organization for free in their spare time. They are incredibly responsive to community concerns for an organization of their size, and even more so for one that is entirely run by volunteers.

                              I also want to point out that AMTA does on occasion solicit feedback via surveys. For example, after it introduced the new case for NCT on a trial basis, it gave a survey to all the students competing at NCT.

                              They also require that you fill out evaluation forms at tournaments to get your ballots. I know a lot of schools don’t takebtgem seriously, but that’s on them.
                              Last edited by ImproperCharacter; August 11th, 2018, 09:34 AM.

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by ImproperCharacter View Post
                                Yes, thank you for that. I understand the idea of representative democracy just fine. But AMTA isn’’’t one. It’’s an organization that provides an educational service. You are right that they aren’’t under an obligation to listen to every thought a student or coach like you or me has. They shouldn’’'t be.

                                My principle thought is that’s it’s silly to think that the Board should have an obligation or be expected to consider each individual thought that gets sent their way.
                                Ok, so now you aren’t claiming that peoples thoughts and concerns can be represented by people who aren’t from their program or a program thats incredibly similar. You are claiming that some people’s thoughts and concerns don’t need to be represented or even listened to at all and other people’s do. Maybe you are ok with that. I, for one, am definitely not, and I hope the board isn't either.

                                I agree that there are some organizations where, for educational purposes, you can’t have a democracy and you need to have people from the top make decisions to pass down to everyone else. They make decisions based on what they think is best without reference to any single program. This is, for instance, how high school mock works in many states (the state bar foundation usually just runs it and schools just have to deal with what the unaffiliated bar foundation decides). Everyone is equally unrepresented and usually equally frustrated with the results.

                                The problem here is that AMTA is caught in between. We don’t have an unaffiliated bar foundation to be our benevolent and unbiased overlords (and I’m glad we don’t because in many states including the one I competed it the bar foundation was not particularly good at running things). We have a board over half of whom are actively involved in various competing programs. They will represent their students concerns to the board. They ought to do so. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t (they would be ignoring legitimate concerns from community members which would make them bad stewards). But now you say they don’t have to listen to or consider the thoughts and concerns of other programs. Now we have an inequality problem.
                                Last edited by The_Quibbler; August 11th, 2018, 09:54 AM.

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