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Perspective: Starting the Conversation

Celebrating "I RESOLVE"

November 20, 2020 – As we close out November, NAUDL is celebrating the inaugural run of our public debate series I RESOLVE. This special initiative was developed to facilitate conversations between debaters and local experts around the topics resonating in debaters’ communities. Then, when criminal justice reform was announced as the 2020-21 policy debate topic, we knew it was the ideal starting point for these discussions. I RESOLVE provided a platform for young leaders to engage with respected legal, civic, community, and business leaders around problems and solutions to this pressing issue in our society.

Let me tell you, our debaters did not disappoint.

Partnering with leagues in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and Houston, local debaters delivered compelling arguments on: decriminalizing drugs, mass incarceration, sentencing, police tactics, police funding strategies, and the need for improved training and professionalism on police forces. Debaters spent weeks preparing their cases — and more than held their own as they fielded questions from the highly esteemed experts who served as panelists. Indeed, students received a wealth of positive feedback from these seasoned professionals. Hon. Susan Fisch, formerly a judge for the Jefferson County Court in Colorado, and a panelist for I RESOLVE Denver, remarked “You are welcome in my courtroom ANY day.” She continued, “You are better than any of the lawyers that appear in my courtroom by a longshot — and I will tell you why: You know your case.”

They know their case. That is what makes the students in the Urban Debate Network so impressive. Their remarkable commitment to research, analysis and critical thinking, combined with their poise under pressure and their investment in defining and honing their arguments.

We are continually inspired by how hard these students work — and NAUDL is focused on creating new avenues to help them succeed. While the pandemic may have temporarily moved debate to virtual spaces, our staff and leadership have been agile and unwavering in our efforts to help sustain urban debate programs nationwide. This commitment has required us to quickly develop new resources — including new online workshops, learning new technology platforms, and stepping up our marketing game, but the success of events like I RESOLVE encourages us. Over these five inspiring evenings, more than 500 people witnessed our debaters’ skills, as they proposed real policy solutions to judges, lawyers, legislators, police force leaders, educators, and bankers. It just doesn’t get much more rewarding than that.

Giving Tuesday is right around the corner on December 1. I hope you will join us on this national day of giving by contributing to programs like I RESOLVE. I believe, now more than ever, that the discourse of the upcoming generation will lead to sustainable change in our future. Your support will help us continue these critical conversations in 2021.

Rhonda Haynes
Executive Director

Special note: I want to offer my sincere thanks to our five league partners and their leadership teams for their collaboration in making I RESOLVE a reality. I also want to extend my warm appreciation to the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of I RESOLVE, Massey and Gail LLP, and our Series Sponsor, The Asia Group Foundation, for their generosity.


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