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Equity Commitments

Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion stems from a philosophy that all members of our organization deserve the opportunity to participate in competitive speech and debate in ways that align with our mission. This means that alongside the call to be stewards of our organization and embody our values, NSDA members deserve a caring and welcoming environment– one that fosters inclusion, affirms identity, celebrates lived experiences, and protects from harassment and discrimination. Our students deserve feedback in the spirit of culturally responsive pedagogy, while our coaches and judges deserve opportunities to grow both their programs and their craft. 

Since 2017, NSDA’s annual equity commitments have outlined specific, immediate steps to reinforce diversity, equity, and inclusion in our organization. This year’s commitments provide a lens into our focus for DEI during the school year while also listing new objectives to expand our work. We’ve made great strides and take great pride in the work we’ve done, but recognize the need to do more. Part of doing more entails including new areas while also recognizing that our efforts toward previous commitments are not over. 

This year’s equity commitments will focus on infrastructure and climate. Both areas serve as the foundation for corresponding initiatives that seek to strengthen our organizational/tournament practices and deliver on the promise of creating transformative opportunities in service to our students, coaches, and judges. Recognizing that some projects will take longer than others, the commitments are triaged by long and short term. 

Thank you for supporting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope you will continue to be partners in our efforts to make speech and debate a better activity!

Infrastructure

The NSDA will work to reinforce opportunities for meaningful engagement and voice of our students and coaches

    • NSDA will create student affinity groups that will meet during the season
    • NSDA will partner with coaches caucuses to build a stronger infrastructure 

The NSDA will continue to strive for an equitable and representative judging pool at the National Tournament 

    • NSDA will review its guidelines for determining diversity-enhancing judges and share data on their utilization at the National Tournament
    • NSDA will continue to require National Tournament judges to receive certification in cultural competency

The NSDA will develop a culture of assessment to further measure the effectiveness of our DEI efforts

    • NSDA will reinforce DEI as a central focus in the strategic plan
    • NSDA will develop a tactical plan to inventory its DEIBC programs and resources and assess for needed continued growth

The NSDA will continue to enhance its efforts to prevent harassment and discrimination at the district and national tournaments

    • NSDA will enhance its Belonging and Inclusion Station (formerly known as the Equity Office) to further serve participants at district qualifying and national tournaments 
    • NSDA will develop strategic goals to implement Belonging and Inclusion Stations at the district tournament level 

    Climate

    The NSDA will include belonging and stewardship alongside diversity, equity, and inclusion as key concepts in our organizational core documents

      • NSDA will draft and implement a stewardship statement 

    The NSDA will design cultural competence training opportunities to help enhance our district qualifier and national tournaments. 

      • NSDA will offer cultural competence training for district leaders and judges

    The NSDA will seek data from its constituents to learn about the cultural climate of our district and national tournaments

      • NSDA will conduct a climate study to learn more about how students, coaches, and judges are experiencing speech and debate tournaments

    SHORT TERM COMMITMENTS Work will begin on these commitments in 2022-23 with anticipated completion within the year

    • The NSDA will include belonging and stewardship alongside diversity, equity, and inclusion as key concepts in our organizational core documents
    • The NSDA will develop strategic initiatives to implement and advance DEI efforts
    • The NSDA will design cultural competence training opportunities to help enhance our district qualifier and national tournaments
    • The NSDA will continue to strive for an equitable and representative judging pool at
    • the National Tournament
    • The NSDA will continue to enhance its efforts to prevent harassment and discrimination at the district and national tournaments

    LONG TERM PROJECTS Work will begin on these commitments in 2022-23 may not be fully accomplished at the end of the year. 

    • The NSDA will develop a culture of assessment to further measure the effectiveness of our DEI efforts
    • The NSDA will work to develop opportunities for student engagement and voice
    • The NSDA will seek data from its constituents to learn about the cultural climate of our district and national tournaments

    In Response to 21-22 Equity Commitments, we… 

    • Continue to use our DEI topic lens to review resources and topics.
    • Updated the inclusive tournament checklist and built the document into tabroom.com messaging to Tournament Directors and district tournaments.
    • Created videos in celebration of Black History Month and Juneteenth
    • Created a short video series in collaboration with the Persons With Disabilities caucus.
    • Continued to hold meetings for coaches caucuses during the spring 2022 and at the National Tournament.
    • Built Tabroom infrastructure to work toward a comprehensive judge-accreditation program and future development of cultural competency training.
    • Introduced the Springboard series, which hosted 22 after-school events and a free online last chance qualifier. 2,554 unique students and 303 schools participated.  
    • Introduced the Keith West Memorial Fund and awarded a total of $15,500 to 7 schools and an additional $6,000 to 6 students. 
    • Provided approximately $500,000 to speech and debate programs through Big Questions subgrants and $100,000 through the The Tate Fund in 21-22. 
    • Introduced the Activating Equity Award to be awarded in 2023. 
    • Hired a full time Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.