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Perspective: Intentions for the New Year

Showcasing Diversity and the Student Voice

January 29, 2021 – The New Year is off to a roller coaster of a start. There have already been high highs and profound lows: the promise of vaccines, the storming of the Capitol, and the changing of the administration, to name a few. For me, the significance of the first 30-some days of 2021 was as much personal as it was political.

Now, it is time to look ahead. We say it every winter — but today, it has a new sense of urgency, of realness, of dedication behind it.

Practically speaking, we face very real challenges, and the months ahead promise many more twists and turns as school districts and our league partners find their collective way back from the disaster of COVID-19. Our leagues are navigating a perfect storm of record-low attendance, virtual fatigue and learning gaps, magnified by issues of equity and access. Yet, NAUDL is not making any excuses. Our leagues need our support and our students need our resources and platforms to continue to succeed in an activity they love.

The business of politics aside, what I hope the community we serve, the nation — the world — saw over the course of the Inauguration was an intentional display of inclusion and representation. People, and especially young adults, need to see themselves in positions of power and influence in order to envision a better world — and to trust that their interests are well-represented by the policy-makers in charge. As NAUDL plans for the spring, summer and upcoming fall, we hope to amplify and showcase the diversity of our students’ voices and journeys in ways that are meaningful to them.

Please follow along in the coming weeks as we share features and content on:  a special I RESOLVE event with the Tulsa Debate League, focusing on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre; NAUDL’s first ever National Debate Expo, a celebration of the urban debate network through community, exhibitions, educational workshops and events; the Expo’s “Opening Night” annual fundraiser that will feature a speech from our Debater of the Year winner and more; plus, recognition of alumni, leagues, heritage days and new opportunities for advocacy on subjects that matter.

The joke in the media is that we should all just “stay quiet” in 2021 after enduring 2020. However, at NAUDL we intend to “get loud” — and we need your help more than ever. Please look to our newsletters and social media platforms for ways to actively engage, promote and support debate.


Rhonda Haynes
Executive Director

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