Debate's Problems + Why We Made EP
by Rena Su
Note: This was originally published on the website on 08/07/2020 but has been reposted due to website updates.
Equal Proposition (EP) was the brainchild of a desire to improve the Canadian (and more specifically BC) debate circuit. From both personal observation and second-hand stories, it's been clear to me that debate can often be elitist and inaccessible. However, I've personally learned many valuable lessons from the activity including persuasion and critical thinking skills. Money and a strong school team should not be a barrier of entry to reap the benefits of debate. During tournaments, I have seen people being made fun of due to the quality of their suit or the school they come from. Other times, expensive schools or well-funded programs have a dedicated coach whereas others have student-run clubs that have zero budget. At times, it can appear that the successful debaters are only from the most expensive schools in the region. Certainly, a database will not be the all-encompassing solution to all of these problems; elitism is often also a mindset. Nevertheless, I hope to encourage more people, more clubs, and more schools to be able to access the information needed to compete in debate.
Allow me to begin with: No, I don't believe that I am the most qualified to be making this database or writing this article. Debaters who are more experienced or place higher than I do are a dime a dozen. If you end up looking up my name on some tabs, I've had my massive failures. However, I come from a school where I am the only debater in my entire grade, have had troubles finding partnerships, and had no coach or adult supervisor. I was sold into the narrative that getting outside coaching was the only way to be any decent in my situation. Nevertheless, I still love debate despite these obstacles and frustrations. To the people who love the thrill of debate (or even just the concept of it), I'm with you on that. And I know many of your frustrations. I had to push through a lot of obstacles. And even though I am not on the national team or the best debater I know, I believe in the mission of sharing the knowledge I do have in order to diversify and improve the debate circuit. And if you happen to be a good (or better) debater and believe in this mission, please consider contributing! It is only through you that we can offer not only advice, but a diverse range of it. We want to welcome your views, your go-to tips, your hot takes. And in the spirit of debate: TH proposes to give debate a more equal playing field.
Rena Su is a co-founder of Equal Proposition.