To the South African debating community,
As the National Chief Adjudicator for the South African Schools Debating Board on behalf of the motions setting committee, I would like to announce that the following motions for the senior division of the National Schools Debating Championships (NSDC) 2012:
R3: TH regrets the government’s decision to bailout SAA.
Final: THS the decision to allow Oscar Pistorius to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games
will no longer be debated. This means that in their place, there will be two impromptu motions, and thus will be announced on the days they are debated. I would like to apologize to all the delegations for the inconvenience. The motions setting committee, compromising of myself, Dan de Kadt and Eva Spoor, were not unanimous in the decision to change the motions. Dan de Kadt voted against such action. However, ultimately we felt that it was necessary that such a decision be made.
The major reasons stem from the fact that some of the delegations raised very specific concerns. These concerns related specifically to the above mentioned motions.
1. TH regrets the government’s decision to bailout SAA.
The concern here was that the specific action was not a government bailout however a government guarantee. Thus, team proposition would be expected to regret an action that never occurred. Furthermore, the concern was that it is opposition weighted. The motions committee set this motion with the specific intent of highlighting the problems occurring in the South African aviation industry. Thus, arguments surrounding government action were expected.
For this motion in particular, there were many avenues considered:
a. In order to engage the specific context in which the debate was intended for, the motion would need to speak to government standing surety for SAA. However, this would not solve the perceived weighting of the motion. Hence, this was not a viable alternative.
b. An alternative bailout motion could not be found that was not weighted or that related directly to the specific context that was prepared for. Hence, it would be illegitimate to make such a change, given that teams were preparing for this specific context.
c. Any other motion that could be thought of changed the perspective in which the debate was framed and reasonably if one were to work on the assumption that prep has already begun, it would be unfair to expect teams to change what they've prepped.
2. THS the decision to allow Oscar Pistorius to compete at the Olympic Games
The intent of this motion was to discuss a topic that the audience could resonate with yet still discuss interesting issues. This is especially so through a figure such as Pistorius. However, the major concern from some of the delegations was that this motion was weighted towards the proposition. Thus, one could not possibly expect the opposition to make any reasonable arguments. Given that no alternative could be found that changed the framework significantly, so that the weighting changed, the motion has also been dropped.
Due to these overwhelming concerns, we felt it was necessary and our responsibility to make these changes. We have an ethical responsibility to ensure that motions are weighted evenly and set to the appropriate age group. Ideally, we would not want to set a standard where the committee changes motions after complaints. However, this is a unique situation where such changes are necessary. For the spirit of the tournament and to ensure the accountability of the motions committee, we make these changes with the best intentions. Furthermore, once such issues are raised we could not in good faith continue without making changes to the motions. This is especially so when we consider the effort participants put into their nationals experience. Considering that at such a tournament, almost all we do is for the debater, we had to take such action in their best interests.
Finally, the motions committee is tasked with setting motions that it thinks will facilitate an enjoyable, interesting, and fair competition. We set motions with the belief that they fulfill these requirements. We respect that some individuals feel differently, as will always be the case in debating. We thank these individuals for raising their concerns and hope that despite these changes they will enjoy the tournament.
Again, I apologize to all the delegations for the inconvenience. I sincerely hope that you will still enjoy the tournament and I wish you all the best.
Yours in debating,
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