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Allow me to share a few of those experiences.
1. A note was put on his book bag at Yale as he left to go to the restroom asking, “hey, are you gonna actually EARN your way to TOC this year, affirmative action sucks”. I doubt this note was written to other students who received an at large last year. This note is a small reminder of some of the unprovoked hostile culture of the activity and sentiment of many competitors that seems to exist around his experience this year. The nonverbal and verbal responses we have seen when Jalon loses are shocking. Students have visibly cheered, snickered, and bragged during oral critiques in Jalon’s bid rounds.
2. Several coaches and outside judges have approached Jalon to express their disgust at seeing alliances of multiple teams vigorously collaborate against this “lone wolf.”
3. In at least two other events, judges that were 1’s for him in a world of mutual preference were removed to other panels and replaced with 3’s or 4’s in bid rounds. The more preferred judges were then given to students of people in the tab room OR students of people of whom they are close associates with no explanation. When asked about the rationale later via email on more than one occasion, no response was given.
4. At the Columbia tournament despite the tournament invitation that says “no person” without a judging philosophy online will be allowed to judge”, he was assigned just such a judge. In having his grandfather who serves as “coach” asked to have that person removed over 45 minutes before the debate, they were told “she is a good person”. Nothing was done about that concern. At that SAME event a ballot was recorded incorrectly that not only put him in a break round in prelims (which he won), he was then listed as having a 4-2 record instead of the 5-1 he earned which made the doubles draw much more difficult. These errors are confirmed facts and have been acknowledged by the tournament staff.
5. At the Harvard tournament despite been at the tournament at 7:40 (sitting at a table with me near the Harvard student who was the building monitor) and being around the room for the time of flight B, a Northeast judge said he forfeited his debate. After lodging a concern the tab staff did grant a double win since he was clearly present for the debate. After earning another 5-1 one record and getting to what I think is the 6th bid round of the year, of the 285 judges in the pool, the judge that forfeited him showed up on the panel. Another 2-1 defeat with the judge in question being the deciding vote. At Harvard in doubles after making an argument about African American males being disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system and that was a method of the state to control and exterminate a portion of the population he was told, “what is the impact to that” by one judge in his RFD.
In isolation, perhaps all of these things are easily explained away as “mistakes”, “oversights”, and an unfortunate set of events. Maybe all Lders are having these experiences. Perhaps… I am of the opinion that something is a tad more insidious than that. Despite all of this, this young man who travels with his grandfather still wants to compete at the TOC.
Given this unique situation, please examine the facts regarding Jalon’s competitive successes this year:
Wins over fully qualified TOC debaters-
[This part redacted]
Ballots won over fully qualified TOC debaters:
[This part also redacted]
Also, since Jalon’s successful at-large application last year, his performance has improved. His prelim win-loss percentage increased from 66% in 2009, to 71.4%, a 5 percent improvement. Jalon’s speaking also improved substantially. He won top speaker at Yale (out of 167 competitors), ninth speaker at Harvard (out of 324 competitors) and 8th speaker at Meadows. In terms of elim rounds, Jalon has had to win 6 runoff/elim rounds to get to the bid round (Yale, Bronx, Meadows, Harvard and two at Blake).
Again, Jalon is an African American male whose travel is funded by his grandfather. He doesn’t “fit in” with the normal crowd at national circuit tournaments, and despite this, Jalon has achieved a very competitive performance this year. A few years ago an exception was granted to Courtney Nunley when Harvard made a single tab mistake and the committee deemed she should receive an at large. With complete respect for Ms. Nunley, based on the comparative records AND the reoccurring “issues” that have occurred at DIFFERENT events AND the fact that Jalon was competitive at TOC last year, he is a slam dunk to receive an at large this year. The fact that another applicant may have a “bid” doesn’t mean that all bids are created the same and that they are more worthy of attending the TOC. If you look at the debaters Jalon has beaten, his overall performance and the issues he has encountered, I believe that he deserves to be at TOC.
To the TOC Lincoln Douglas Advisory Committee,
Last year I wrote a similar letter to the advisory committee in support of Jalon Alexander for an at large bid to the Tournament of Champions. Last year, the majority of the committee had no idea who Bodine JA was. I imagine, this year, you all do. Please allow me to start by saying Jalon has no bids. He has had six bid rounds this year ( [This part redacted]). Some decisions I would argue were legitimate. Some left me questioning not only what happened in that specific debate, but the integrity of the activity.
I wrote to Andrea Reed, the new Director of the TOC (I cced J.W. as well) to plead Jalon’s case. Andrea indicated to me that she was willing to make an exception to the “gotta have a bid rule” based on the mitigating circumstances outlined below. My argument was that tournaments ought to have a higher standard of operations if they get the privilege to be called a TOC qualifier. Just so you know, I also asked that ANY student that felt the errors in the tab room be considered migrating circumstances and allow those folks to apply.
Additionally, you guys continue to claim that you asked for an exception to be made for all debaters. Christian Tarsney called Berryhill's BS on this 270 posts ago, challenging you to come forward with the email proving it. Ken Hershey adds a lot of reasons to doubt that you guys did it. But you can go right on ahead claiming you did, I guess. That seems cool. Produce the email.
Finally, Tyler Butler should absolutely be going to TOC, and it sickens me that he was denied, largely because I'm not sure why Jalon got a pss over him. Maybe if the reasons were explained, I'd understand more, but you guys seem unwilling to do that. Tyler Butler earned his bid fair and square, and he should not have been passed over on claims of racism by jalon, who has zero bids. Jalon is not merely Black, but the intersection of his race, family, political connections, etc. Even if we speak from some White privilege, we can still recognize that the oppression targeted at Tyler, who has few political connections, are at least significant, and maybe even more deserving than Jalon's.
Tyler Butler for TOC 2011.