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Many of you have experience with public speaking: giving formal or informal presentations in classes, teaching in schools, or maybe even participating in a speaking competition. Debate will let you use and develop those skills, but it will also help you to develop other skills--close reading, interpretation, critical reasoning, argumentation, rhetorical invention--and all in front of a live audience!

"This house believes" that debate will be an exciting and enriching addition to your university experience. So sign on, jump in, "reach higher," and Speak Up!

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Draft Constitution of the CHSS Debate Society
30 January 2009 
(to be ratified by members and executive)

The CHSS Debate Society aims to enrich the educational experience of students and faculty in the college by providing training and experience in debate, and by providing a forum for the debate and discussion of key issues in education and society in the UAE and GCC.

In partnering with Gulf News and other similarly interested organizations, CHSS Debate confirms its interest in helping establish a network of debating societies throughout the UAE and the Gulf Region, and in coming together with these societies in a spirit of cooperative competition to raise and advance issues of substance and significance, and participate in the critical examination of what it means to be Muslim, Emirati, Arab, and Human in a world faced with unprecedented crisis and promise.

In light of these commitments, we establish the following articles.

I. The Society

The Society's Goals are:

1. to provide a structure, venue, and opportunity to debate for students majoring in departments of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences;
2. to train members in the tradition and practice of debate;
3. to grow interest and participation in debate as educational tool among students in the college, the university, and at sister institutions;
4. to complement the work of students and faculty by stimulating intellectual and philosophical exchange, and participating responsibly with its partners in the careful dissemination and interpretation of information;
5. to represent the college and university in competitions outside the university as opportunity arises, and to seek opportunities to host such competitions;
6. to complement and enrich discussions already happening on local, national, and regional stages, and to support responsible governance by first encouraging responsible citizenship.

II. Membership

1. All students majoring in one of the twelve departments of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences may join the Society. Exceptions for minors from other colleges may be made at the discretion of departmental advisors, to be named in February, 2009.
2. Membership is "open," meaning that students may participate as observers or debaters according to the stipulations of the society, and according to the decisions of departmental advisors and squads (see "Structure," below, and the blog entry "Rules of Debate").
3. Members--including students, officers, and advisors--may be removed from Society events and/or suspended/expelled from the Society upon the majority decision of the executive for serious infractions of the Society's policies or the rules of debate (see "Rules" and "Policies," below).

III. Meetings

As the Society expands, it may become necessary to hold occasional general meetings to discuss matters of policy, etc., and to accommodate interest from other colleges/campuses.

In the interim, the following general schedule of meetings will pertain, and is subject to amendment:

1. Society Meetings for female students will be held on the first and second Wednesdays of every month, excluding the final month or half-month of the semester. Place and time will be announced via this blog and various promotional efforts of the College.
  • First Wednesday meetings will be the venue for monthly "college debates" on pre-selected topics (please see "Rules" and "Structure" for additional details).
  • Second Wednesday meetings will allow Society members an opportunity to discuss and select topics for the upcoming debates, and will feature general instruction in debate decorum and technique.
2. Departmental squads will meet separately during the third and fourth weeks of every month, at least once under the direction of the departmental advisor, for discussion, training, practice, and selection of teams for the upcoming debate.
3. Society business requiring general discussion or vote will be conducted at one of the two monthly meetings. Notification of such business must be received one week before a scheduled meeting, and will be circulated in advance of that meeting as necessary.
4. Other business will be conducted via executive channels, as appropriate. Communications will be maintained via this blog, listserv, and promotional efforts of Gulf News and the college.

IV. Structure

The organizational structure of the Society will include an executive, departmental squads, teams, and general members. 

1. Executive 

The executive will consist of officers drawn from the faculty by appointment, and from the student membership by election. Detailed schedules of responsibilities will be posted soon.

Faculty officers will include the following:
  • Dean of College or authorized representative (in absentia)
  • Coordinator or Co-Coordinators of Student Debating Activities
  • Departmental Advisors
  • Sponsorship Liaison/Coordinator of Promotions

Student officers will include the following:
  • President of the Debate Society
  • Vice-President of the Debate Society
  • Secretary
  • Departmental Representatives
  • Communications/Promotions Officer

Revolving or ad-hoc positions:
  • Moderator
  • Timekeeper
  • Judge

2. Departmental Squads and Teams
  • Faculty Advisor
  • Student Representative
  • Squad Captain(s)
  • Debate Team
Debaters from each department will be organized in squads under the direction of the advisor. Each squad should elect a captain. Advisors and captains will organize departmental sessions, with advisors offering specific training or review, and squads discussing debate topics, practicing the forms and techniques of debate, and auditioning for participation in the college debate. 

Squads and faculty advisors will select at least one team of two to represent their department at the college debate. 

3. General Members

Members may choose not to audition for debate teams, but are still free to participate in general and departmental training sessions, and are very welcome to observe college debates. Members may be called upon to fill temporary or permanent positions in the executive, and are expected to help promote and manage events.

V. Policies
  1. Membership and participation shall be voluntary.
  2. Members and officers shall behave with decorum at all times. 
  3. Members and officers shall support and promote the aims of the Society.
  4. Members and officers shall create and sustain an atmosphere of openness, respect, and rigor during discussions, debates, and other communication.
  5. No participant shall be subject to censure for opinions or arguments offered in the course of the debate, except as these violate the "Rules of Debate."
  6. No participant shall be subject to mistreatment or persecution for opinions or arguments offered in the course of debates or discussions, formal or informal. 
  7. Participants (debaters and observers) shall learn and observe the "Rules of Debate."
  8. Participants and officers will examine the Gulf News and other news sources regularly, remaining informed about current events and issues of interest to the Society. 
  9. Officers shall fulfill their responsibilities assiduously (with careful attention).
  10. Faculty and faculty advisors will not use the Society to specifically supplement course content, though they should promote the society to interested students.
  11. The Society shall function subject to college and university policy.
  12. The Society shall seek to serve the educational aims of the college.
  13. Policies, schedules, and the structure of the Society may be amended as necessary according to the majority judgment of the executive or the majority vote of the membership.
Additional articles, including descriptions and policies, will be added as necessary.

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