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    News

    LBCC Silences Award Winning Debate Team For Now, Claiming It Can't Find Anyone To Coach Them


    (August 25, 2003) -- In a development first reported by LBReport.com which we continue to follow, the administration of Long Beach Community College (LBCC) will not be giving students an opportunity to take part in the school's nationally recognized debate team -- not for lack of funding -- but because LBCC administrators and faculty claim they have been unable to find anyone suitable to coach the team.

    The departmental position is that the debate team is on "hiatus" for the next year. However elsewhere during a colloquy with the chair of the Board of Trustees, an administrator indicates efforts are underway to try and restore the debate team in the spring semester.

    The administration explanation -- which appears to contend they were unable to find anyone suitable to coach LBCC's debate team within the second largest metropolitan area in the country -- was accepted without much questioning by LBCC's elected Board of Trustees.

    At the Board's next meeting, Ms. Hayley Brandt, a member of the silenced debate team, showed up to rebut the administration's presentation.

    LBReport.com posts both presentations below as recorded on LBCC's web site. We invite our readers to decide for themselves whose presentation makes more sense.

    In mid-April 2003, a team fielded by LBCC won Gold Medal honors at a national tournament held by Phi Rho Pi, the honor society for speech competitors who attend two year colleges. The LBCC team achieved Gold Medal status (with ten other schools) at the Portland, OR tournament that pitted 114 teams in competitive Parliamentary Debate.

    In May, Ms. Brandt told the Board of Trustees, canceling the debate team was "kind of like you were to teach the theory of football but not have a team." She noted LBCC's debate team had been awarded a total of $50,000 in forensics scholarships in the past two years...and the debate team program was named best off-campus activity at LBCC by the Associated Student Body.

    Although professing support for the debate team and admiration for Ms. Brandt's skills, the Board of Trustees did not direct its administration to restore the debate team by any date certain.

    LBCC's Board of Trustees has not agendized the subject for its August 26 meeting, but the issue can be raised by members of the public during time legally required for comment on non-agendized items. The Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for the LBCC ELB campus, 4901 E. Carson St., at 5:00 p.m. in Building I, Room 101.

    Pertinent portions of the LBCC's Board of Trustees' minutes follow below:

    [begin text]

    Minutes, Meeting of the Board of Trustees
    June 17, 2003

    Update on Speech and Debate Team

    Dr. Mary Callahan provided the Board with the following report on the Speech and Debate Team item that was presented at the last meeting and which the Board asked that she and Janice Tomson look into:

    SPEECH AND DEBATE TEAM

    The Speech and Debate Activities are divided into two areas. The instructional area consists of two classes - Speech 19, Speech Activity: Individual Events; and, Speech 69, Speech Activity: Team Events and Debate. The other is a club sponsored by the Associated Student Body. Students enroll in the instructional classes as well as become members of the Forensics Club. The ASB has supported the Speech and Debate/Forensics Club for many years either as a local activity (LBCC Speaks) or as a full blown Forensics activity with state and national competitions.

    CURRENT SITUATION

    • QUALIFICATIONS OF COACH IS THE SAME AS FOR A FACULTY MEMBER
    • FINANCIAL SUPPORT IS FROM THE DISTRICT AND THE ASSOCIATED STUDENT BODY TEAM IS FROM THE ASSOCIATED STUDENT BODY
    • SPEECH HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST ENROLLMENTS AND WAIT LISTS OF THE DEPARTMENTS.
    • CURRENT FULL TIME FACULTY UNABLE TO EXTEND ASSIGNMENTS FOR THE NECESSARY HOURS REQUIRED FOR THE TEAM.
    • CURRENT ADJUNCT FACULTY MEMBER / COACH UNABLE TO CONTINUE ASSIGNMENT.
    • APPROXIMATELY 12 - 15 STUDENTS ACTIVE ON THE TEAM

    DEPARTMENTAL POSITION

    • UNABLE TO STAFF THE COACHING POSITION WITH FULL OR ADJUNCT FACULTY AT PRESENT
    • PROGRAM IS ON HIATUS FOR ONE YEAR
    • FACULTY EXPLORING ALTERNATIVE DESIGNS FOR TEAM INCLUDING THE REESTABLISHMENT OF LBCC SPEAKS TO PROVIDE FOR LOCAL ACTIVITIES TO PRACTICE SPEAKING AND DEBATING SKILLS.
    • FACULTY WILL FOCUS ON THE INSTRUCTIONAL AREAS OF SPEECH/ DEBATE SKILLS
    • ASSOCIATE STUDENT BODY IS HOLDING THE FUNDING FOR THE YEAR IN ANTICIPATION OF CHANGE.

    Janice Tomson: The Department Head had talked with the students and they seemed to be up to speed on the information.

    President McNinch: What was the feeling of the students when you told them that this would not be available in the Fall of 2003?

    Janice Tomson: My information is from the Department and the Department Head said that the students seemed to understand and were satisfied and that was from the Department Head.

    Member Kellogg: So itís my understanding that the decision to use the available funding that was there, there was a decision from the Department Head to use that money for other classes at the expense of utilizing the money for the Debate team?

    Vice President Callahan: No, thereís two different sources of funding. ASB funding is strictly for the team and thatís being held by ASB because weíre not having any team activities this year.

    Member Kellogg: But they are restricted because if they donít have the faculty advisor, for lack of a term, they canít have a team. So they set the money aside. Who makes the decision where the funding goes or does not go. It obviously doesnít fall to me.

    Vice President Callahan: The Department Head and faculty decided to take the time, the instructor time that it would take, to, instead of having them work with the team, they added more classes for the general population for this year, because the wait lists are so long, they decided that that was the best use of faculty time for this year.

    Member Kellogg: The faculty support person -- is that a volunteer or are they paid?

    Vice President Callahan: The classes themselves are on their load so that they receive credit for teaching the classes that go along with the team and ASB assists with some stipend funds. They had been doing it with a full-time faculty member and then an adjunct faculty member took it over for a couple of years, but is now unable to do it.

    President McNinch: How does this affect our students who are members of the National Forensic League or Association that have been in competition or were expecting to continue? I know we have an outstanding Speech program. Itís one that many students come to us with the anticipation of participating in the team. How does that affect that core group of students?

    Vice President Callahan: That core group of students for the next year will be on hiatus. We will not be able to offer them that opportunity.

    President McNinch: So they donít have a team.

    Vice President Callahan: For the next year.

    President McNinch: They didnít have one for this Spring?

    Vice President Callahan: No, I believe they did.

    President McNinch: So, itís just the fall. We expect it to continue in the Spring Semester.

    Vice President Callahan: Yes.

    Member Kellogg: Do we have any prospects from the faculty standpoint who is willing to step up?

    Vice President Callahan: Yes, we have a long-time full-time faculty member who is working with the Department Chair to reconfigure this. They want to do it, but they know that they need to do it with a little bit different support.

    (Member Uranga left the meeting at 6:45 p.m., but returned for the Second Closed Session at 8:00 p.m.)


    Minutes, Meeting of the Board of Trustees
    July 15, 2003

    PUBLIC COMMENTS (NON-AGENDA ITEMS)

    ...Vice President Kellogg: We have Hayley Brandt of the Speech and Debate Team. You were here previously regarding the status of the Debate team probably about one month ago and we dealt with some issues on that.

    Hayley Brandt: Yes. First of all, Iíd like to say thank you to everybody once again for hearing this issue. Basically, today weíre here asking for your continued support because in this coming year we will definitely be needing your help. Two months ago when we brought this before the Board, we explained to you that the team that we had was an award-winning team that we had secured more than $50,000 in scholarships in the past two years and weíve been nationally recognized. In fact, at the National Tournament, we took Number One in Debate and then the team was cut. And what happened at the last meeting, as I watched on television, so thank you whoever broadcasts that, we found that the report that came from the department and, of course, from the dean, was pretty much not satisfactory to what weíve been taught and to what we know. Basically at the last meeting they told us that the team could not be saved. Well, they said they had to drop the team in order to secure more classes and to add some more. Well, it was not necessary to drop the team in order to do this, because the team is two one-unit classes. It is not a whole bunch of classes. It is merely two one-unit classes and is not a big burden on the schedule. Theyíve also told you that there are 20 hours of faculty time that is secured for the team by the coach, but this is an inflated number because the coach is only being paid for six hours, not 20, only six. It is entirely possible for us to have the team at the same time. In fact, what theyíre doing by eliminating the team and bringing on one extra Speech 10 or Speech 20 class, is that they are replacing a unique and high-quality education with just another class you can receive still. What happens when we have a replacement of the uniqueness, weíll see a loss in the team scholarships and the knowledge and the skills that we have been able to acquire. What it comes down to is that the team can be saved, and thatís why weíre going to continue to issue throughout the next two semesters.

    Another thing that they told us is that there is going to be a one-year hiatus and then they will bring the team back. Well this is obviously just a smokescreen because what happens in the next year is that the people who are fighting for the team are going to be transferring and so there will no longer be any opposition to the department and they will not have to bring the team back, because there will be no voice wanting it. Also, there was a one-year hiatus brought in the past. This one-year hiatus turned into a ten-year hiatus. It is not going to be just one year. This is why we must continue to fight for it.

    Also, theyíve proven that there is no real intent to bring back the team because they said theyíre going to bring back the team with LBCC Speaks. Well this is what LBCC Speaks is. Itís not really the team. All it is is a group of students who get together without a coach and without any competition and they sit around and they discuss speech and debate, I suppose. It happened in the past and what happened with this is that the team died off immediately. LBCC Speaks was not effective and it wasnít really much of anything. It just lacks the element of competition and it wasnít satisfactory and people left because of it.

    Another reason they told us we had to cut the team is because only 10-12 students are allowed to compete at a time because we must send people by airplane and living in hotels while they compete. In the past year we had two hotel tournaments. The rest were local and one where people had to fly by airplane. As a matter of fact they are basically telling us that not all students were able to compete because of this. But every student, all 30 on the roster, at one time or another, was able to compete and because of this they were able to gain skills that they wouldnít have otherwise. In fact, they are now in line for scholarships because of it. Also, theyíre telling you, basically, because only 10 or 12 students can compete at a time, which is not necessarily the case -- every student who wants to compete does get to compete -- basically theyíre telling you that itís bad to exclude. But with their idea theyíre going to be excluding all students. By excluding, theyíre going to be driving good students away and theyíve already begun to do that. Many of the people on the team have walked away. The 11 people from the past three years that have either gotten full rides to their four-year universities, or partial scholarships, this will have ended with them. And with that, I ask you to continue with this and remember the team, because we will not be stopping, we will continue to fight.

    Vice President Kellogg: Thank you, Hayley. As long as you have your voice, Iím sure the debate team will be very active.

    Member Clark: This young lady certainly shows the program works and I wouldnít want to get into a debate with her. Let me ask, Gary, is this under your jurisdiction? It was indicated to us that you were looking for a faculty member that was going to be willing to work with this and I donít know what the status of that is currently.

    Dr. Gary Scott: Part of the issue is an ongoing long-time permanent support position. It needs a permanent faculty person to do this. To support an ongoing forensics team thatís successful, really needs full-time support of a full-time faculty. Weíve done it with hourly faculty in the past. Itís brutal and, frankly, for the hours that weíre able to support this particular assignment, itís kind of consuming some really good folks who are, out of the best intentions, trying to keep it alive and well. I would concur with your comments that itís a successful program. I mean you could sell snow to an Eskimo and be very successful at it, Iím sure, and thatís great. The issue is not do we value the worth or the value of the program, the issue becomes, as we find ourselves in this economic cycle, is this the best and highest use of the resources that we have. The fact of the matter is Speech is the second or third highest wait-list program in our entire school. We have more students waiting for Speech classes, and except for English and ESL, I believe itís the third highest wait list.

    Speech faculty have enjoyed a long success and a long tradition of Speech, but what theyíve come to realize is that to best meet the student needs of the institution, they felt as though it was best to use the resources available to provide instruction for the biggest number of students that we could. Itís a wonderful program, but itís a very expensive program to support. For ASB, per person, itís the most expensive program that they have and that is another issue that we need to resolve. There are faculty who have been involved in the Speech program at this college for over 20 years and at the risk of implicating one particular staff member, this is near and dear to his heart and he is actively working to come up with a way to possibly reorganize how the college supports our Speech and Forensics program and to, perhaps, do it in a more efficient way that would allow more students to have active participation in it and allow the college to have it where itís just economically viable for us to continue to support it. Thereís an active ongoing effort toward that goal right now.

    Vice President Kellogg: Would we have any report back on this item at all?

    Dr. Gary Scott: It would be inappropriate for me to speak for Dr. Callahan, but I know that itís an ongoing issue with us, with she and I personally, and I suspect that this will be an issue that we should report back on.

    Vice President Kellogg: Thank you. I believe the Board would like to see some progress on this because obviously it has been a highly demanding successful program, so those are the ones you want to fight to keep and Iím sure some of the members of the Debate Team are going to make sure of that.

    ADJOURNMENT


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