Procedures for Adjudication of Conduct Policy Complaints

Procedures for Adjudication of Conduct Policy Complaints

PDF Version available. 

The NDT Conduct Policy Committee has adopted this document as a guide to filing and adjudicating complaints arising from violations of the NDT Conduct Policy.  We believe that the first line of defense in preventing abuse and harassment in debate rounds lies with the judges.

Coaches and program directors are encouraged to discuss the Policy with other participants prior to the NDT, and are expected to take any reasonable and necessary actions to ensure compliance by participants who are affiliated with their respective schools. By participating in the NDT or in activities associated with the NDT, each individual shall be deemed to have agreed to comport her or himself in accordance with this Conduct Policy.

Proactive responses by judges may prevent in-round situations from escalating to a situation of abuse or harassment. To find the scope and definition of discrimination and harassment covered by this policy, refer to the Conduct Policy and its definition of harassment. These procedures are meant to guide the work of the committee, but are a work in progress and are not exhaustive.

Complaint Procedures

The committee envisions two primary avenues to pursue complaints of harassment or discrimination under the NDT Conduct Policy. These two options are not mutually exclusive, an individual can choose to take either route, or both.  The first option concerns allegations of harassment that occur during a debate round between the debaters in the round where the remedy sought is competitive – the win in the round. In this avenue, the assigned judges will be the primary adjudicator of the complaint. The second option covers all allegations of violations where the remedy sought is something other than the win or loss in a particular round. Anti-retaliation requirements and appeals procedure are outlined in the Conduct Policy.

Option 1: Complaints concerning in-round harassing behavior by one debater or team against another debater or team where the remedy sought is competitive (win or loss) – The assigned judges evaluate and decide the matter.

If a debater wishes to initiate a charge against her/his opponent in a round she/he should appeal to the judges in the round.

  1. Once a charge is brought before the judges, debate on substantive issues in the round should cease. The judges may offer each of the teams the option to make speeches about the charges.
  2. Judges should refer to the NDT Conduct Policy to determine if a violation has occurred.
  3. Each of the judges should render a decision independently.  The judges should use discretion in assigning speaker points.  It is not necessary to assign zero speaker points to the team that loses the round, particularly if the judges feel that while a debater is unsuccessful in proving a violation, the charge was initiated in good faith.
  4. After the judges have voted, if a majority has decided that harassment occurred, the matter will be referred to the Conduct Policy Committee to determine if additional sanctions are warranted.
  5. The director, coach or responsible party for the individual or team should be notified in the instance of any sanction.
  6. The Conduct Policy Committee will assign a very strong presumption to the judge’s decision in the round.  It is not the role of the Committee to invalidate the judges’ decisions.

Option 2: Complaints concerning harassment charges that do not implicate an immediate (in-round) competitive remedy for incidents that occur either in-round or matters that occur outside of a round – The committee evaluates and decides the matter.

This option includes claims against judges, claims against debaters outside of rounds, claims against coaches, claims against debaters inside the round where a remedy other than a competitive sanction is sought, etc. 

  1. Those wishing to initiate a charge (either on their own behalf or on behalf of another) against another individual should contact a member of the Conduct Policy Committee (Sherry Hall, Ben Hagwood, Carly Watkins, Deven Cooper, David Cram-Helwich, Sarah Spring and Sarah Lundeen) or email the group as a whole (see below).  If the complaint arises during the course of a round, the Tournament Director should be notified.  The Director will contact a Committee member who is not judging that round to begin the process of investigating the complaint.  The Committee as a whole can be contacted by sending an email to:

ndtconduct@googlegroups.com

  1. All complaints must be presented in writing.  The written complaint should specify which actions violate the Conduct Policy and what remedies are sought.  Complainants are free to consult with others in crafting the written complaint.
  2. As noted previously, this procedure should not be used if the remedy sought is to receive a “win” in a debate round.  The Conduct Policy lists possible sanctions.
  3. One member of the Committee will be designated as the investigating officer for the complaint.  This person (or persons) will interview the parties, watch/listen to a recording of the round, and interview other witnesses.  Personal observations by members of the Committee can be used as evidence and would not disqualify that person from adjudicating the complaint.
  4. The party accused of harassment will be given access to a copy of the written complaint for the purposes of answering the complaint.
  5. The parties involved, witnesses, and the Committee will conduct the investigation with due regard for the privacy of all individuals.  The written complaint should not be shared with others, and in particular should not be shared on social media sites.
  6. The investigatory officer will prepare a report which summarizes the investigation which will be made available to the other members of the Committee.
  7. Any member of the Committee who has a conflict-of-interest, or feels that there is a strong perception of a conflict-of-interest, should recuse themselves from the adjudicatory proceedings.  A majority of the Committee can decide to remove another member from the adjudication if they perceive a conflict-of-interest exists.  If one of the parties objects to a Committee member, the rest of the Committee should decide whether or not that member needs to be removed.
  8. The burden of proof lies with individual(s) initiating the complaint. While the lack of corroborating evidence is not an absolute bar to a successful complaint, uncorroborated complaints that are denied by the accused will not often result in sufficient evidence to make a determination that a violation has or has not occurred.
  9. The Committee will decide by majority vote whether the claim has merit and which, if any, sanctions to impose.
  10. The Committee shall produce a publically-available written report of decisions (which redacts all personal information including confidential admonitions or censure) in the original case for appeals to help ensure that a consistent set of principles is applied to cases.  Reports will be made publically available before the next year’s NDT.
  11. In the rare event that the Committee is adjudicating a claim that involves a direct competitive consequence, the Committee will strive to render a decision in the same time parameters as the judges for that round.   Every effort should be made to ensure that the adjudication of a claim that impacts who wins or loses a round not delay the tournament.  The Committee may take appropriate steps to facilitate a timely process including: placing time limits on the parties and witnesses addressing the Committee; dividing up the investigatory process, etc.