Make TOCs allow independents

Make TOCs allow independents

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TOC Burner started this petition to The tournament of champions and

We are two Public Forum senior debaters who wish to remain anonymous in order to avoid any potential conflicts with our school. We hoping to create a change in the TOC policy to compete at this year’s Tournament of Champions as independents.

As students from a debate team that has consistently attended less than four national tournaments a year, that lacks support systems such as coaches and qualified teaching staff to teach debate, and that provides zero financial assistance for attending tournaments, our school has severely limited our opportunities to grow as debaters. On the other hand, many other debate teams operate under extensive support systems that feature strong financial backing and networks of coaches and editors, providing our competitors with an institutional advantage that hinges solely on bearing more financial resources. We believe this rise in coaching has created a structural disadvantage to us being able to compete on an inherently unequal playing field. 

In spite of these challenges, our passion for the activity has driven us to work tirelessly to perform well at high-level tournaments: our dream since day one has been to perform well at TOCs, the most prestigious tournament of the year.

This season, we have acquired the necessary amount of bids to qualify for the Gold PF division at TOCs. Unfortunately, our school is now refusing to allow us to compete at TOCs because none of our advisors are willing to come on the trip. We have fought endlessly with the administration for them to provide a school-sanctioned official to come on the trip with us, but to no avail. Our public high school has demonstrated a pattern of disregard toward our debate team, which has been extremely frustrating for us, as this activity has meant so much to us for the four years we have competed. It is a known fact that private and wealthy public schools do not face such institutional barriers to competition. 

This tournament means the world to us and this opportunity, which we earned through years of hard work, is being taken away by our school. We ask that the TOC allows us to compete as an independent entry, without needing authorization from our school to compete.

We find it morally abhorrent that in recent years debate teams have been able to buy their way to the final rounds at debate tournaments. Gone are the days of meritocracy in debate as the infusion of money and the coaching system has created massive disparities in the representative nature of an activity that is supposed to promote discourse regardless of the size of one’s bank account or the zip code in which they reside. 

We understand the liability issues that may arise with allowing independent entries, which is why our parents (who will accompany us on this trip) are willing to sign any waiver forms that are necessary to claim full liability for our actions. We do not believe we should be barred from attending an event due to the unsupportive attitudes of educators that we had no say in choosing. We did not ask to be operating under a highly unsupportive public school administration, but these are the cards that we were dealt and the situation we find ourselves in. The TOC should be knocking down barriers to underrepresented participation, not upholding them. We trust in the spirit of debate and the mission of the TOC in fulfilling this goal.

We hope that in light of these extenuating circumstances the TOC committee will be able to make an exception. Debate and public speaking are our passions and we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend this year’s TOC competition. We understand that what we are asking is no small request, but we would be doing ourselves and our countless nights of hard work injustice by not asking. Thank you for supporting our cause.

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