Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Debate Team Moves Forward Under New Director

Shelly Le September 12, 2013
As the school year begins and Whitman’s nationally renowned debate team prepares for their upcoming fall tournaments, all signs point toward another another successful year for the debate team. However, recent decisions regarding the team have left some debaters unhappy.

Debate Team Moves Forward Amidst Disagreements About Supervision and Policy

Shelly Le May 20, 2013
Following last spring's Title IX investigation, a number of concerns have been raised regarding the relationship between students and assistant coaches and the administration's expectation and treatment of these coaches. Assistant coaches are almost always recent graduates, often just a year removed from being Whitman students. Despite their closeness in age to members of the team, they are hired as members of Whitman’s instructional staff and are expected to conform to the same codes of conduct as other staff members. In moving forward, members of the debate team hope there can be more positive and open communication from the administration, starting with the hiring of a new Director of Forensics. Steps to begin this process had been underway with the creation of an advisory group consisting of alumni, current debaters and a faculty member to provide input for a new director.

Debate Title IX Investigation Prompted By Sexual Assault

Shelly Le May 20, 2013
In spring 2012, Whitman administration carried out a Title IX investigation into a report of a sexual assault by a former assistant debate coach. Individuals who were called into questioning with the investigation board, however, have been extremely unhappy with the way the investigation was handled. None of the individuals who were called in to speak received a follow-up from the board or a final report nor were they told when the investigation was concluded. Given these concerns, 135 debaters, alumni and Whitman community members have signed a petition on change.org asking the college to conduct an independent investigation into its Title IX investigation.

As Longtime Coach Steps Down, Debate Culture Under Scrutiny

Shelly Le May 20, 2013
In the last week of April of this year, Director of Forensics Jim Hanson announced he would be stepping down from his role coaching Whitman’s debate team in order to take a position as chair of the newly created rhetoric studies department. Hanson has been coaching debate at Whitman for two decades and has been widely credited with getting the team to its position of national prominence today. In the weeks following his announcement of resignation, debate alumni, students and faculty have raised questions about Hanson’s decision and the administration’s handling of the change, given that a new coach had not yet been selected for Whitman’s nationally ranked team when Hanson stepped down. Many alumni and debaters have suggested that Hanson’s change of position was not a voluntary choice, a charge which he has declined to comment on. While the college is legally prohibited from discussing the reasons why Hanson stepped down due to laws about employee confidentiality, Hanson’s decision came in the wake of greater administrative focus on the debate team. A three-week investigation by The Pioneer has confirmed that the team was the focus of a Title IX investigation during the spring of 2012, and that other administrative concerns were raised about sexual harassment and treatment of women on the team, as well as about the supervision of assistant debate coaches, most of whom are recently graduated students. The college’s Title IX investigation into the team has been the focus of discussions about Hanson stepping down, but the full story involves earlier concerns raised about team culture, including the treatment of women on the team.

Letter from the Editors on Debate Investigation

Shelly Le May 18, 2013
Over the past three weeks, a team of Pioneer reporters has been working to shed light on the circumstances leading up to Jim Hanson’s decision to step down from his position as Director of Forensics. Our reporting included dozens of interviews, both on and off the record, with current debate students, administrators, faculty, trustees and college and debate alumni. Since Hanson’s announcement, rumors and pieces of information about the reasons Hanson stepped down have been circulating throughout campus and the wider debate community. We hoped to be able to add a more thoroughly researched version of events as soon as possible following his announcement, but we also felt it was important to confirm stories and take the time required to present information from every possible angle.
Credit: Gold

Tension over debate tournament eases

Lea Negrin November 11, 2009
More posters and lower enrollment this year limit tournament's disruptive impact on Whitman campus.
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