Joining CDS is a fairly informal process. We meet every Wednesday and Thursday at 6pm and Sunday at 2pm in Cobb Hall. Every individual present puts his or her name on the board, and our Vice President of Operations pairs people into rounds. Periodically we email the listhost with a schedule of tournaments we plan to attend in the upcoming several weeks. Members bid on the tournaments they'd like to attend. As described in our by-laws, we make tournament selections mainly by attendance, but selections are also dictated by seniority and our need to remain competitive on the circuit. If you attend practices regularly, however, you will almost certainly be sent to a tournament of your choice.
The Autumn Novice In-House Tournament
We also have a formal novice recruitment process that begins in the fall, starting with the Novice In-House. All prospective members are encouraged to participate, as the In-House is a good way to familiarize yourself with Parliamentary Debate, get in three rounds of practice with constructive feedback from judges, and get to know the team.
Debating as a Novice
Debaters qualify as novices either for their first competitive year or until they've attended three APDA-sanctioned tournaments. As novices, debaters are eligible for novice speaker awards and often novice team awards. In Fall Quarter we attend a Pro-Am tournament, in which novices are paired up with varsity members. All novices are assigned varsity members as mentors, from whom they should feel free to seek advice throughout the year. The Officer Board also holds weekly office hours, where novices are encouraged to ask any questions they may have on any aspects of parliamentary debate. Additionally, new members are assigned varsity mentors, who they can go to in order to get more personalized advice and feedback.
Who Should Join?
CDS has always been a tight-knit, supportive group. We welcome members of all experience levels to join the team. Because APDA-style parliamentary debate places equal emphasis on rhetoric and analysis while discouraging excessively technical, research-based argumentation, it is a particularly accessible format. Those who were active in Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, Public Forum, and other forms of speech and debate in high school often find the transition to parliamentary debate fun and easy. Additionally, members with no prior public speaking experience join every year and find the activity accessible and rewarding.