Monash Association of Debaters

Patricia johnson-Castle and Lucian Tan

Why isn’t the debate universe characterised by diversity? A case for formalised equity policies in intervarsity debating



“Advocating the mere tolerance of difference…is the grossest reformism. It is the total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and substance to act where there are no charters.”- Audre Lorde1

Diversity is an inescapable facet of the today’s world – all people bring their own cultural and personal experiences to all circumstances.2 Diversity is particularly reflected in intervarsity debate at large international tournaments, like the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC), the European Universities Debating Championships (EUDC), the North American Universities Debating Championships (NAUDC), the Pan-African Universities Debating Championships (PAUDC) and the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships (Australs) which by their very nature bring together people from a wide range of cultural and national backgrounds.

The growing awareness of increased diversity comes with an understanding that structural violence is reproduced and perpetuated by dominant norms to the benefit of dominant cultures and at the expense of diverse minorities. These historical oppressions are ongoing so are felt in the present.3 Recognizing these historical and ongoing disadvantages intervarsity debate has sought to ameliorate this situation through two particular kinds of initiatives. The first is the implementation of equal opportunity policies of separate ‘English as Second Language’ and ‘English as a Foreign Language’ categories. The second kind is the implementation of ‘equity policies’, conventionally anti-discrimination policies seeking to ensure that no participant is made to feel unwelcome or disrespected by other competitors.  Since debate is an activity predicated on the free exchange of ideas equity is a necessary prerequisite to achieve it and thus deserves careful consideration.

This paper contends that the conventional approach to equity policies has been insufficient in achieving outcomes of inclusivity and education. Tournament equity policies are generally sparse, and modelled on legal and quasi-legal prohibitions on discrimination and harassment. Examples of written equity policies from various national organizations and international tournaments referred to may be found in the appendices. The lack of detail and apathy towards non-punitive responses in most tournament equity policies impedes their ability to recognise and accommodate diversity. We first consider the rationale behind equity before outlining key features of an ideal equity policy, drawing upon recent developments from the debate community and related literature from the field of organisational diversity management. Finally, the paper concludes with an examination of potential support structures that would positively frame equity policies, and future thoughts for development of equity in intervarsity debate.

Ultimately, equity is and should be about much more than preventing and punishing the worst conduct. We should rather aspire to a debating community characterised by a celebration of diversity, where the idea of equity will guarantee that all competitors feel dignified and welcome.

Why Does Equity Matter?

The question of why equity matters is somewhat less vexed in the debating community than in other organisations (for example, in businesses4 or in sporting organisations5). One reason for this is that intervarsity debaters are all current or former university students. Typically those in higher education are receptive to a plurality of ideas.6 Debate requires opposing and diverse viewpoints, this function means that many debaters see the importance of some form of equity as self-evident.7 By definition, features of certain debate formats require cooperation between diverse individuals (for example, in consensus adjudicating). In sporting organizations cooperative activities have been found to again implicitly raise the importance of equity frameworks in ensuring positive outcomes.8 The culture of equity in debate is along the lines of the conventional practice in practically all organizations: the incorporation at the very minimum a belief that some form equity is part of normal practice.9 This means that many members of the debate community take the reasons for supporting equity and diversity for granted.

It is pertinent to interrogate why it is that equity is so important, and particularly, what we hope to achieve with equity, before moving onto the policy elements themselves. The most commonly understood justification for equity is the ‘moral case’: diverse groups of people should be treated equitably as no one should be treated unfairly as a result of personal characteristics, attributes or beliefs.10 Dominant cultures in broader society have generated prejudices that oppress people through operations of Western-centric heteronormativity. Heteronormative discourse sets man up as the opposite (and superior to) of women, heterosexual as the opposite (and superior to) of homosexual, white as the opposite (and superior to) to black, etc.11 Those outside dominant cultures are comparatively disempowered through discrimination. People seen as inferior in these sets of norms have distinctions made against them. The effects of these many embedded social structures are taken for granted. Debate cannot be removed from its historical legacy, and is certainly not immune to such power structures. The format of WUDC is called “British parliamentary” because  it is modelled after British parliament. This begs the question: who historically sat in the British parliament? (Old) white men. Debating still has a strong connection to these roots. It tends to be quite heteronormative in nature, reinforcing historical prejudices.12

People who do not fit into these norms often feel ill at ease in spaces where these norms are assumed. Diverse minorities face higher rates of discrimination and harassment. It can occur directly or covertly through structural or cultural barriers and causes them to feel distinctly disempowered, stressed, inadequate, lonely and frustrated.13 In its most severe form, discrimination, harassment, bullying and intimidation can put participants in active physical harm. Equity policies must exist to prevent and address the full range of these harms. Equity n a punitive and educative combination helps breakdown these norms and make debating an activity in which people of any identity category feel welcome to participate.14

It would be remiss to think of equity in only the punitive dimension. It is also important to consider that equity practically enhances the operation of fair debate. Debate exists to facilitate the free and fair discussion and tolerance of “a wide range of political, social, economic and scientific views”, even where these are unpopular or controversial.15 Research has demonstrated that heterogeneous groups have a greater capacity for creative thought and productive discussion about a broad spectrum of perspectives.16 It has been found in the context of the higher education that diversity enhances learning experiences, problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills.17 These elements are all crucial to the success of intervarsity debate. Importantly, these benefits cannot be achieved in environments that are hostile, whether latently or overtly. People who do not feel comfortable in a space, or who feel like their contributions will not be valued, will never speak up in the first place. As a result we potentially lose out on unique contributions and argumentation. Equity, the climate of inclusiveness, and the respect that it seeks to foster, are not just ‘good’ or ‘right’ things to do, they also elevate the quality of debate.

But why even have an equity policy? Many have responded to equity policies in a manner much like that of George Lawlor when he refused to attend a University of Warwick consent class.18 People tend to embrace diversity as important, but self-evident, and requiring only minimal formal structures to deal with extreme outliers of unacceptable conduct such as harassment and assault. However, a closer look confirms that this minimalism is not the case.

Firstly, formal policies and frameworks are necessary to manage the potential conflicts that may arise amongst heterogeneous groups and organisations. The assumption that it is sufficient to simply have a diverse group of people together is sufficient is a fallacy.19 Studies comparing homogenous and heterogeneous groups demonstrate that diversity can generate conflict and misunderstandings that reduce happiness and productivity.20 These risks are best managed through organisational structures like policies that state intent and thereby shape culture.21

The presumption that equity can be discharged by ‘just being nice’ or ‘using common sense’ is replicates and perpetuates ingrained and embedded oppressions and misunderstandings. Equity cannot be relegated to the realm of ‘common sense’ because (1) each individual has a different understanding of common sense that requires aggregation under a formal policy, and, perhaps more importantly, (2) common sense understandings draw up and feed into pre-existing privilege and structures of oppression.22 Structures of oppression are reproduced by both dominant cultures and by minority cultures to “gain footage on a slippery slope of social acceptability”.23 To remain silent is to tacitly accept what are often hidden, operational and organisational understandings of oppression. For example, the most common excuse for diversity unfriendliness in the business context is that something is conventional practice, or ‘following protocol’.24 Policies help to deconstruct and reshape these kinds of understandings by clearly articulating parameters within a highly contested discursive space.25

Equity policies and frameworks are also necessary to ensure that there is not an overcorrection that stifles free, fair and robust debate. Although freedom of speech is not and should not be unlimited, policies and governance frameworks are convenient and effective ways to strike a balance between the competing obligations of tournaments and societies to facilitate vigorous debate and to ensure members and participants do not feel unwelcome or disrespected by the words or actions of other participants.26

Ultimately, what we expect from the existence of equity is not simply a way to deal with the most extreme conduct that may occur during a tournament. What we really want is for equity to create a climate of respect for diversity, both as an end but also as a means to facilitate the exchange of ideas and perspectives that is fundamental to intervarsity debate. Creating that climate “requires commitment, strategy, communication and concrete changes in organisational structure and processes”.27 Equity policies are therefore necessary to implement and concretise good intent. So what kind of equity policy will best allow us to enact long term change and foster inclusiveness and respect for diversity?

What Is The Best Policy Practice?

At their most basic, equity policies must be explicit about the grounds for equity violations and be clear about the responsibility and powers of equity officers, the investigation process and possible remedies. This section offers suggestions of  how create of effective and engaging equity policies.

Equity Policies Should Be As Explicit As Possible As To The Possible Grounds On Which An Equity Violation Might Occur

Equity policies should be as comprehensive as possible regarding protected attributes to ensure that all participants are aware of potential grounds of discrimination and harassment. For example, under the Code of Conduct from Schedule 1 of WUDC’s current constitution (Appendix A) section 3 prohibits discrimination on grounds of age, race, sex, disability, religion or sexuality. It could go further adding such categories as gender, national or ethnic origin, physical appearance, accent, English or other linguistic proficiencies, or even debating ability. The Solbridge Australs Policy (Appendix C) section 4 adopts this kind of expansive approach to protected attributes. A failure to cover the field or be specific could impede the operation of equity, as most people will tend to be more aware of visible, overt differences such as gender, race or ethnic origin, and less aware of less visible but no less important attributes could be sidelined.28 Comprehensive policies allow specific and nuanced coverage to adequately protect all participants.

Effective equity policies serve as touchstones, and should seek to shape and guide the conduct of participants. Anecdotally, the majority of equity violations at major tournaments are committed not out of malice or ill intent, but rather through a misunderstanding of appropriate boundaries and acceptable conduct. This can be avoided if there clarity as to what actions may constitute discrimination. For a policy to be clear it must explain that protected attributes are unacceptable reasons for people to feel unsafe 29 and explicate both what conduct is prohibited and what conduct is expected. The only way to do this is to be clear as to what actions may constitute discrimination. When a policy lacks clarity it is likely to cause confusion that can result in equity violations.30

Equity policies also need to be equipped to deal with both general and specialised discrimination.31 Thus, whilst it is important to retain key, existing aspects of conventional equity policies, such as the general prohibition on harassment and bullying, it is also important that special protections are articulated through equity – for example directives and guidance on pronoun rounds and how to avoid misgendering others. Such protections are important features of equity that go a long way towards making sure that everyone feels comfortable. However, the relatively recent awareness of these issues means that equity is required to specifically highlight and address them, which is only possible where equity coverage is detailed and comprehensive. South African anti-discrimination law should be used to inform future equity policies. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA )states in that prohibited ground of discrimination include:

  1. race, gender, sex, pregnancy, martial status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience of belief, culture, language and birth; or

  2. any other ground where discrimination based on that other ground-

    1. causes or perpetuates systemic disadvantage;

    2. undermines human dignity; or

  • adversely affects the equal enjoyment of a person’s rights and freedoms in a serious manner that is comparable to discrimination on a ground in paragraph a)32

Integrating clauses like b) into equity policies allows people to feel secure even if the attribute in question is not explicitly listed in the equity policy.

Equity policies need to be explicit and go beyond simply ‘don’t break the law’. Equity policies are an attempt to help us create a diverse and inclusive community by letting us attempt to resolve problems ourselves. If an equity policy says only that “we shall call the police if someone has broken the law” it would not allow for engagement on issues which are not necessarily illegal but still offensive to participants. Even where violations may break the law, the role of equity should not be to automatically involve law enforcement – some people who feel they have been harassed at a tournament may not want to pursue the matter in court but would like some kind of intervention.

There is a tension, however, between the need for comprehensiveness and the comprehensibility of any equity policy.33 The justification and rationale for equity should also be explained alongside the grounds for discrimination. The best practice solution is to utilise additional supporting documents to translate the formal equity framework into digestible formats for participant use.34 For example, the grounds for equity complaints should be made clear through a code of conduct that should be read and signed by participants of the tournament. All participants are then equally informed about what violations are as well as the possible consequences for violations. Codes of conduct should explain the duties and responsibilities of participants, and make reference to the more comprehensive equity policy. Other examples of supporting documents might be language guidelines or other protocols, as provided by the Solbridge Australs equity team (see further Appendices D and E). Additionally, equity briefings and statements made by the equity officers should be delivered in a condensed fashion to avoid overloading participants, but highlight both the comprehensive and inclusive coverage provided by an equity policy. Best practice equity frameworks need to not only incorporate an explicit and comprehensive policy, but also appropriate channels of communication to make sure that coverage is understood by all those involved.

Remedies Should Not Be Exclusively Punitive

Typically, the consequence of an equity violation is some kind of sanction, presumably to deter the action from occurring to begin with and to punish offenders. Take for example section 13 of Schedule 1 to the current WUDC constitution (Appendix A). However, this approach does not explicitly offer non-punitive intervention with offenders – remedies centre on warnings, suspensions and other rehabilitative penalties (such as receiving instruction on future use of language). Debating tournaments increasingly bring people from differing backgrounds together who do not necessarily share the same understanding of polite conduct or have the same knowledge bases and exposure. Thus, it is quite possible that someone may violate an equity policy or code of conduct non-maliciously. If an infraction is sincerely non-malicious it seems disproportionate to apply a sanction against the violator.

Moreover, it wrongly locates the sole problem of the equity violation as the individual. It is also important to look at the contexts in which that misunderstanding may have occurred, and tackle those in order to change individual behaviour. This requires an expansion beyond the punitive and into the educative.35 This might involve starting a discussion with offenders about why something may be considered inappropriate and how it might impact others. Such approaches have long been recognised in organisational diversity management, which notes that real change towards a culture of respect for diversity can only be achieved when an educative focus is provided.36

Another instance which would be benefited by a non-punitive equity policy is in situations that take into account the power dynamics of people involved. If, for example, a person who is a debater and is highly respected says something which offends a person who is much younger or newer to the community, the newer/younger person may not feel comfortable about bringing that violation to an equity officer.  If equity is approached purely punitively the young complainant might fear backlash from the community if the older/respected person is punished. This is somewhat alleviated if the equity team is explicitly approaching equity from a punitive and non-punitive approach. The victim could explicitly ask the equity team to use a non-punitive remedy such as an explanation from the equity officer for why violation was hurtful to the victim and having that person to apologize. Once the equity team investigates the situations they could assess the egregiousness of the offence and use the victim’s preferences to guide the remedy of the situation. It is possible that an offence warrants both punitive and non-punitive measures.

This is another instance where we should look for guidance from PEPUDA. It gives guidance on how to determine the guilt of someone who is accused of undermining another’s dignity. Its section on determining whether the action by a person says that the following factors must be taken into account:

  1. the context

  2. the factors referred to in subsection (3);

  3. whether the discrimination reasonably and justifiably differentiates between persons according to objectively determinable criteria, intrinsic to the activity concerned.

3) the factors referred to in subsection (2)(b) include the following:

  1. whether the discrimination impairs or is likely to impair human dignity

  2. the impact or likely impact of the discrimination on the complainant;

  3. the position of the complainant in society and whether he or she suffers from patterns of disadvantage or belongs to a group that suffers from such patterns of disadvantage;

  4. the nature and extent of the discrimination;

  5. whether the discrimination is systemic in nature;

  6. whether the discrimination has a legitimate purpose;

  7. whether and to what extent the discrimination achieves its purpose;

  8. whether there are less restrictive and less disadvantageous means to achieve the purpose;

  9. whether and to what extent the respondent has taken such steps as being reasonable in the circumstances to-

  10. address the disadvantage which arises from or is related to one or more of the prohibited grounds; or

  11. ii) accommodate diversity.37

The procedure that is followed through these clauses would help guide equity officers through their investigations. It sets out important questions to ask to determine what kind of punishment is appropriate because it reminds them of what factors should be taken into account when deciding between punitive and non-punitive resolutions to complaints.

We believe that equity is under-utilized now particularly because people do not understand it as an educative tool. Many would prefer not to interact with institutions of equity (where they exist) because they don’t see it as being “worth the trouble” or they don’t want the perpetrator to be punished. When equity is explicitly addressed from an educative perspective it is likely that people will be more willing to address issues of generalizations, misuse of language, etc. which had previously bothered them, but never so much that they felt equity needed to be involved.38 These kinds of less severe violations are one of the greatest challenges that equity has work on to build a climate of respect.39 Equity policies need to say that it is no trouble at all to involve equity.  By changing the very way we conceive of equity, the policy itself becomes an educative tool by raising awareness and starting conversations about mutual respect and inclusivity, even in the absence of any incidents or complaints.

Of course, there is still a need for punitive aspects in an equity policy. If offenders do not sincerely engage with equity officers about their conduct punitive action may need to be taken. For example, if they are flippant or disengaged when apologizing. For similar reasons, protection of complainants through a prohibition on victimisation is needed to ensure those who choose to report are not unfairly harmed for raising issues that they feel are important and to encourage reporting of issues.40 Punitive action would also be justified in cases where there have been egregious violations of the equity policy. Policies should be alive to this potential outcome, retaining serious punishments in order to handle the most serious of violations.41

Ultimately, equity cannot serve its purpose of creating a climate of respect and inclusiveness if it only focuses on punishment of egregious violations. The way equity provides remedies needs to be reconceptualised to include educative and non-punitive remedies. This will allow equity to function proactively as a resource and catalyst for further respectful discussion of the diversity of the debate community.

Individuals Should Direct Equity Processes And Be Empowered To Handle Situations On Their Own

If the ultimate goal of equity is to ensure that there is a climate of respect and tolerance, then victims of equity violations need to feel valued and respected by the process that handles their concerns.42  People who have been victims of equity violations don’t just need structural support; they also need emotional support, particularly where violations are severe.43 Not allowing victims to set the terms of how they engage with equity can be incredibly disempowering, and it may further encourage non-disclosure of important issues. Best practice equity policy should be consultative with the victim. As a general rule equity officers should not take action without the assent of the victim.44 This is a further reason why the remedies provided by equity policies cannot simply be punitive: flexibility is required in order to achieve the best possible outcome for victims, legitimating their unique experiences.45

Just as victims should be able to direct equity processes, they should also be given the freedom to self-help. Since at the varsity level of debating almost all participants are legally considered adults (with some exceptions), when people are comfortable doing so they should be able to ask for apologies. If someone was misgendered throughout the debate by another speaker, equity should tell them that if they feel comfortable with it, they can handle the situation on their own, perhaps by noting this to the perpetrator and asking for an apology. Most people will apologize. Equity should come into the situation (1) if the person is not comfortable resolving it themselves or (2) if the perpetrator refused to apologize. Thus, equity does not always need to be the first port of call but it should be there for the instances when people are unable to act for themselves. In the example above some trans* people may feel very comfortable noting to the perpetrator of the misgendering what had occurred, while for other trans people that experience might be extremely painful. Therefore, equity can help to lift the burden from the shoulders of the person feeling pain and have a conversation with the perpetrator explaining that they misgendered a speaker in a debate and why that was painful for the victim. If the victim wants an apology the equity team can help facilitate that. At every stage, equity policies should make space for victims to decide the best course of action for them – after all, equity policies are primarily in place to help victims.

Equity Officers Should Have Clear Responsibilities And Powers

Those who have been appointed as equity officers must understand what their responsibilities and powers are in order to create the safety needed for debaters to fully participate. This is a reason why having a standardized equity policy (discussed further below) is beneficial: it allows for knowledge transfer between people and tournaments.

Most equity policies unfortunately tend to be vague. For example, the CUSID Code of Conduct (Appendix B) states:

4.1.1 All procedures for investigating and resolving complaints must include the following:

  1. a) a process for the making of anonymous complaints;
    b) a process for the accused persons or persons to make a written statement responding to the allegation against him or her;
    c) a process for determining whether section 2 has been violated;
    d) a process for determining the appropriate punishment in the event of a violation of section 2;
    e) a process for informing all affected parties; and
    f) a process for determining whether the complaint should be reviewed by the membership of CUSID.

  2. The duties of the Complaints and Equity Officers include, but are not limited to:

  3. a) Being aware of all resources of the security provisions of the institution at which the tournament is hosted;
    b) Being visible and available for the duration of the tournament, including attendance at social events;
    c) Acting in a responsible manner and be prepared to deal with any eventuality at all times;
    d) Investigating all complaints; and
    e) Issuing a report at the close of the tournament

There is almost no explanation of how complaints are investigated, or any of the associated procedures. This can cause confusion for equity officers about how they are meant to respond, and further complicate the handling of sensitive complaints and the broader operation of equity.46 If a very egregious offence occurs which the equity officers feel warrants the violator being expelled from the tournament, the violator could challenge the authority of the equity officer where a code of conduct or equity policy doesn’t explicitly list that as a possibility. In part, the problems faced by the CUSID policy are minimised by the capacity for individual societies and unions to supplement with policies of their own. However, the strategy of having a nationally standardized equity policy which leaves room to empower individual debating unions to supplement and innovate is somewhat dependent on unions taking that initiative. Unions that do not prioritize equity will only employ the nationally standardized (and potentially vague) policy thereby being vulnerable to confusion or lack of authority. This would be an instance where clauses (2) and (3) from PEPUDA would be a helpful guide for equity officers.

In contrast, the Solbridge Australs policy (Appendix E) provides a far more comprehensive example under section 7. This details the specific manner in which complaints may be processed, as well as the various roles that members of the Equity Team need to undertake. This clarity allows Equity Officers to execute their roles with confidence, and provides assurances to all participants about the procedure with which complaints are dealt.47 Naturally, there is still room for the Equity team to exercise their discretion. Ultimately, breaches of equity need to be considered on a case-by-case basis and as argued above, with the input and involvement of the victim.

Just as comprehensive equity policies need to be translated into digestible blocks; equally it is important that the powers of the equity officers are effectively communicated to the participants of the tournament. See further Appendix H for the infographic distributed by Solbridge Equity team, which presents the information about the complaints process in a condensed form. The empowering equity document should be comprehensive to provide guidance and structure to equity officers, but should also be communicated to all participants in a form that allows them to easily understand how to make an equity complaint and the investigation and resolution process.

Equity Officers Should Be Independent From Other Positions At Debating Tournaments

Equity officers may not be needed at all at a given tournament but when they are needed it is important that they not distracted from their responsibilities. For example, if the tournament director/convenor is doubling as an equity officer it might be quite difficult for them to fully investigate an equity violation as they would be torn between their responsibilities to make sure the tournament is running smoothly (rooms in use are unlocked, food is arriving at appropriate times etc) and investigating the equity issue at hand. This would be quite demoralizing to the person who has laid the equity complaint because it could make them feel as though their safety/ability to fully participate has been compromised in favour of those other responsibilities.

Moving equity forward

Though equity policies are clearly important frameworks for action and educative tools for change a single equity policy alone will never suffice. Change towards respecting and valuing diversity is a collaborative project,48 and embedding principles of equity should be the long term endgame for intervarsity debate. This section contains suggestions for additional issues to be considered going forward.

Standardising Equity Policies

Every tournament and every union/society has their own unique challenges to face with equity. However, the presence of a single, core policy, which perhaps acts as a template, would enhance the entrenchment of equity. For starters, having a core policy to be adapted provides consistency, which in turn can embed norms about how diversity can and should be approached. A more standardised policy with clear details about protected attributes, acceptable conduct and complaint handling processes will foster a shared understanding of equity, akin to how the longstanding existence of equity policies has fostered a norm of receptiveness to the idea of equity.49 It is worth considering the creation of a consolidated and standardised policy in the same vein as the WUDC judging manual created for Malaysia Worlds 2015,50 leveraging and extending upon the example code of conduct in Schedule 1 of the Worlds Constitution (Appendix A).

Community Engagement And Accountability

It is important that our communities have a say in the continual evolution of equity policies going forward because they are who equity is working for. Engaging through targeted consultations and forums are effective ways to canvas opinion and gain insight about what equity is doing well, and where it must to improve.51 Initiatives already underway – like the Equity Committee established by Worlds Council at Malaysia Worlds 2015 – should be extended and leveraged into future work regarding equity policies. Institutional governance bodies must help to further consolidate findings and chart coordinated future directions for equity in intervarsity debate.

Additionally, data collection and measurement systems should be in place to provide accountability for the operation of equity at major tournaments. Access to data about trends and recurring issues met by equity teams will allow for continual fine tuning of equity policies and their operation.52 The interaction between preventative equity policies and equal opportunity initiatives should also be explored.

Supporting Equity Officers

Being an equity officer or on the equity team can be a rewarding experience. However, it can also be a heavy burden to deal with the ugliest of behaviour, without necessarily being able to discuss these issues outside of the team for confidentiality reasons. Thus an important future consideration is how equity officers are supported when difficult and stressful issues come before them.


Equity policies can never perfectly capture every facets of diversity, nor pre-empt all potential scenarios. There are no guarantees, no silver bullets to the problems generated by historical and ongoing patterns of prejudice and the malicious conduct of individuals. Nevertheless, equity policies are an important feature of the intervarsity debating landscape as a statement of clear intent that debate is an inclusive and respectful space. For too long it has been assumed that equity was easy enough to figure out. It’s time to change that discussion by acknowledging and articulating the complexity of the issues at play. This paper has shown what needs to take the place of vague and primarily punitive equity policies are more comprehensive approaches that clearly articulate the scope and rationale of equity, empowering equity teams, more clearly protecting non-dominant cultures and creating the space for respectful discussion and discourse.


Appendix A
WUDC Constitution – Schedule One: Example Code of Conduct

1) Purpose

The purpose of this Article is to give effect to the principle that all participants at  rounds of the Championships should have an opportunity equal with other  individuals to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as participants in the Championships, without being hindered in or  prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or  ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or disability,  and to be free from harassment and intimidation in the performance of these  duties and obligations.

2) Conduct expected of participants

Participants at the Championships will comply with the following Code of Conduct

3) All   participants   at   a   round   of   the   Championships   will   not   engage in   any behaviour that will undermine or attack the purpose of the Championship or the Code of Conduct including, but not limited to:

  • Engage in offensive language or behaviour;

  • make denigrating comments on the basis of age, race, sex, disability, religion or sexuality;

  • harass, threaten or intimidate other participants in any;

  • damage or destroy any property that does not belong to them;

  • harass, threaten or intimidate delegates to vote in a particular way.

4) The provisions of Article 30 (3) will apply:

  • during debates

  • during any formal event organised as part of the tournament;

  • during any social event organised as part of the tournament;

  • on transportation organised as part of the tournament;

  • in accommodation organised as part of the tournament;

5) Participants include all:

  • debaters

  • adjudicators

  • organisers

  • coaches

  • observers

6) Participants found to be in breach of this code of conduct agree to be bound by the decisions of the Equity Officer and / or the appeals committee.

Implementation and Enforcement

7) Making a Complaint

Participants wishing to make a formal complaint alleging a breach of the Code of Conduct must do so:

  1. in written form; and

  2. submit the complaint to the designated Equity Officer of the Championship either in person; or

  3. Complaints made in written form shall be submitted through any submission box at the Event marked for the express purpose of submitting Code of Conduct related complaints.

  4. The tournament organising committee must provide a box for the express purpose of submitting Code of Conduct related complaints on each day of the Championship Round.

  5. Nothing in the above subsections (a) – (d) prevents tournament participants from orally informing the designated Equity Officer of the Championship of an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct

  6. Such an allegation will not be considered a formal complaint and will not trigger the complaints mechanism until a written complaint is submitted.

8) Complaints must identify both the complainant and the accused.

9) Complaints Mechanism:

  • Subject to the provisions of section 2 of this Article, upon receipt of a complaint, the Equity Officer of the event shall withoutdelay notify the Chair of Worlds Council that a complaint has been received, and wherethe Equity Officerof the event determines that such a complaint gives rise to a prima facie case of breach of this Code ofConduct, the Equity Officershall conductan investigation into the saidcomplaint, and shall within twenty-four hours of the receipt of the complaintorbefore the endof the Championships, whichever is sooner, issue a decision on the complaint to the Chair of World’s Counciland to theparties involved.

  • Where the Equity Officer, acting reasonably, believes the Chair of Worlds Council to be in a position of a conflict of interestwith regard to such a complaint, the Equity Officer shall not notify the Chair of Worlds Council, but instead shall notify any other member of the Executive Committee of the Worlds, as set out in Article 28 (1)(a-e), who the Equity Officer reasonably believes not to be in such a position of conflict of interest and shall deal with them as if they were the Chair of Worlds Council for  the purposes of complying with the requirements under section 1 of this  Article in relation to the complaint in question.

10) In any investigation entered into pursuant to Article 14, the Equity Officer shall:

  1. invite both the complainant and the accused person to participate in the investigation

  2. have regard to all relevant factors in reaching their decision, including but not limited to:

    1. the circumstance in which the alleged act took place;

    2. whether the allegedly offensive comments were made in the context of a debate of the Championships and whether the comments were germane or relevant to that debate;

    3. the intention of the accused person;

    4. the extent and reasonableness of the offence taken; and,

    5. any relevant issues of culture and/or nationality

11) Both the Complainant and the Accused person shall be invited to participate in the investigation of the complaint.

12) An investigation of the complaint may be terminated by the withdrawal of a complaint upon the request the Complainant, which will have the effect of rendering the initial complaint null and void from the beginning.

13) In the event that the Equity Officer determines that an Accused person has breached the Code of Conduct, they will order any such disciplinary action as they feels in their discretion is appropriate, including (though not exclusively), a formal warning, a demand for a formal apology, removal from the tab, expulsion  from the tournament.

14) Where disciplinary action is taken, a written notification will be given to the party receiving the disciplinary action, and an additional copy will be kept by the Equity Officer under seal. These are the only copies that will be made by the Equity Officer, and the Equity Officer shall not disclose the terms of the document to anyone other than the members of the Appeals Committee and the party receiving discipline.

15) Any person receiving disciplinary action may appeal the decision to an Appeals Committee to be comprised of the Convenor of the Event, any one of the Deputy Chief Adjudicators and the Chair of Worlds Council.

16) The Appeals Committee will meet as quickly as possible to hear the appeal and will either uphold, amend, or overturn the decision of the Equity Officer.

17) In the event that any member of the Appeals Committee finds themselves to be in a conflict of interest, or is unable to attend the hearing, they may nominate any of the Deputy Chief Adjudicators of the Event or the Chief Adjudicator, or another member of the Worlds Universities Debating Committee as set out in Article 28 (1)(a-e) to sit in their place.

18) Decisions of the Appeals Committee are final.

Choice of Laws/Contract Terms/Definitions

19) Participants acknowledge that this agreement is governed by the laws of [insert country] and [insert relevant state jurisdiction (if applicable]. Any and all legal actions concerning this Code of Conduct, or concerning any aspect of the Championships where the [insert name of Debating Society] (including its executive members, general members, or designated agents) or the [insert name of university] are named parties to the action shall be conducted exclusively and entirely in the [insert relevant jurisdiction].

Appendix B


  1. The purpose of this By-Law is to give effect to the principle that all participants at events organized by CUSID members should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as participants in events organized by CUSID members, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or disability, and to be free from harassment and intimidation in the performance of these duties and obligations.

Prohibited grounds of discrimination or harassment

  1. All participants at a tournament hosted by a CUSID member will not engage in any behaviour that will undermine or attack the goals and purposes of CUSID including, but not limited to:

  2. use offensive language or behaviour;
    b. make denigrating comments on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or disability;
    c. harass, threaten, assault or intimidate other participants; or
    d. damage or destroy any property that does not belong to them.

Complaints and equity officer

  1. All intervarsity tournaments hosted by CUSID members shall appoint a Complaints and Equity Officer to investigate any complaints, including those under section 2.

  2. The CUSID member hosting the intervarsity tournament shall outline the procedure for investigating and resolving complaints made to the Complaints and Equity Officer prior to the tournament’s commencement.

4.1.1 All procedures for investigating and resolving complaints must include the following:

  1. a) a process for the making of anonymous complaints;
    b) a process for the accused persons or persons to make a written statement responding to the allegation against him or her;
    c) a process for determining whether section 2 has been violated;
    d) a process for determining the appropriate punishment in the event of a violation of section 2;
    e) a process for informing all affected parties; and
    f) a process for determining whether the complaint should be reviewed by the membership of CUSID.

  2. The procedure for investigating and resolving complaints must be publicized prior to the commencement of the tournament.

  3. The CUSID Executive shall provide training and assistance to CUSID members for the investigation and resolution of complaints.

  4. The duties of the Complaints and Equity Officers include, but are not limited to:

  1. Being aware of all resources of the security provisions of the institution at which the tournament is hosted;

  2. Being visible and available for the duration of the tournament, including attendance at social events;

  3. Acting in a responsible manner and be prepared to deal with any eventuality at all times;

  4. Investigating all complaints; and

  5. Issuing a report at the close of the tournament.

Procedure for review on request of the complaints and equity officer

  1. A CUSID member, having investigated a complaint at its tournament, may request that the complaint be reviewed by the membership of CUSID at its next general meeting.

  2. All requests for review by the membership of CUSID must include a written report detailing the investigation by the Complaints and Equity Officer.

  3. Upon a two-thirds majority vote, the membership of CUSID may make an order against the person found to have engaged in the prohibited practice and include in the order any one or more of the following terms that the membership considers appropriate:

  4. written order reprimanding the person for their conduct;

  5. an oral order reprimanding the person for their conduct;

  6. an order that the person apologize to the complainant for their conduct; or

  7. an order prohibiting the person from participating in CUSID-sanctioned events for a period no less than three months and no more than five years.

  8. All orders shall take the form prescribed in Schedule A.


  1. In this Bylaw,

Harassment is defined as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

Participant is defined as a debater, adjudicator, observer, or individual involved in the organization of the tournament.

Schedule A

The Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID) has determined that ____________________________ (insert name) has engaged in behaviour that undermines and attacks the goals and purposes of CUSID.

CUSID hereby determines that the appropriate punishment is _____________________ (insert punishment).

Appendix C
Solbridge australs Equity Policy

1. Preamble

1.1 Purpose

The Solbridge Australasian Debating Championships 2015 (Australs 2015) is committed to providing a tournament free from discrimination, harassment, bullying and vilification, and which fosters equity, inclusion and respect for social and cultural diversity.

This policy explains what conduct is prohibited and outlines the procedures for raising complaints when participants feel that their equity has been breached.

1.2 Background and principles

Each year, the Australasian Debating Championships bring together an incredibly diverse group of participants to speak on a range of issues that can be sensitive and contentious. It has long been recognized that intervarsity debate should be about the respectful exchange of ideas, in a forum where all participants are able to feel welcome and are treated with dignity. No participant should be made to feel unwelcome or disrespected by another’s words or actions, and equity policies such as this exist to clearly articulate what behaviors will not be tolerated, to prevent potential equity violations from arising and to resolve complaints if they do arise.

Understanding that we want debate to be both a competitive and a learning environment, and that debate frequently throws together disparate opinions, we also think equity should be more than just a punitive tool and as such, equity will not be exclusively punitive. We encourage the development of equity as a positive tool for education in cases where remarks or actions were inappropriate but not intended to be malicious, rather coming from a place of ignorance or the lack of familiarity with certain issues or vocabulary. No debater is perfectly knowledgeable about all issues that they will end up debating, and in the event that such rounds are frustrating or disappointing, we want to help all the debaters feel comfortable debating similar rounds in the future.

Equity is also a tool for participants to anonymously or non-anonymously take respite from the charged environment of competition and seriously discuss the proper and respectful way to speak about certain actors, issues, or events. The Equity Team is willing to mediate discussion over the issues that arise during the tournament. We welcome individuals to bring incidents to the attention of the Equity Team even if they do not necessarily wish for an apology from or the removal of the offending party.

This policy is a crystallization of those principles, and it seeks to protect all participants of Australs 2015 from conduct that would make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe, to encourage and facilitate discussion and education, and ultimately to make debate a more inclusive space for all.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all participants at Australs 2015, including but not limited to:

  • Debaters

  • Adjudicators

  • Members of the Organizing Committee

  • Coaches

  • Observers

This policy applies for the entire duration of the tournament, which includes, but is not limited to:

  • During debates

  • Time between debates, including meals organized as part of the tournament

  • During any formal event organized as part of the tournament

  • During any social event organized as part of the tournament

  • On transportation organized as part of the tournament

  • In accommodation organized as part of the tournament

This policy applies both to in person conduct and conduct over social media.

3. Definitions


Bullying is the repeated, unreasonable behaviour by an individual or group, directed towards another individual or group, either physical or psychological in nature, that intimidates, offends, degrades humiliates, undermines or threatens. This includes pressuring another individual or group to do something that they are uncomfortable with.

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is treating another individual or group less favourably on the basis of a protected attribute than someone without that attribute in the same circumstances or circumstances not materially different.


Harassment is any unwelcome, offensive, abusive, belittling or threatening behaviour that humiliates, offends or intimidates an individual or group on the basis of a protected attribute.

Note that sexual harassment has a specific meaning as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that humiliates, offends or intimidates a person and which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would anticipate making the person humiliated, offended or intimidated.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is imposing, or proposing to impose, a requirement, condition or practice that has, or is likely to have the effect of disadvantaging an individual or group with a particular protected attribute, and which is not reasonable in the circumstances.


Victimisation is to cause detriment to a person because that person has made a complaint or taken part in complaints proceedings.


Vilification is the public incitement of hatred, contempt or severe ridicule of another individual or group on the basis of a protected attribute.

4. Prohibition on Discriminatory Conduct

This policy prohibits any participant or group of participants from discriminating (either directly or indirectly), harassing or vilifying another participant or group of participants on the basis of the following protected attributes:

  • Age or age group

  • Debating ability

  • Disability (including but not limited to past, present and future disabilities, a genetic predisposition to a disability and behaviour that is a manifestation of a disability)

  • Gender Identity (the gender-related identity, appearance or mannerisms or other gender related characteristics of a person, including but not limited to the way people express or present their gender and recognising that a person’s gender identity may be an identity other than male or female)

  • Infectious disease (for example, HIV status)

  • Intersex Status

  • Marital or relationship status

  • Sexual practices or experience (for example, previous partner(s) or lack thereof)

  • Political affiliation or beliefs

  • Pregnancy

  • Race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, or ethno-religious background

  • Religious affiliation, belief, views or practice

  • Sex

  • Sexual orientation (including but not limited to asexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, and homosexuality)

  • Socio-economic status and background

This policy also protects against discrimination, harassment or vilification on the basis of imputed or perceived protected attributes, and on the basis of association with a person or persons with a protected attribute.

This policy also prohibits any participant or group of participants from bullying another participant or group of participants.

Victimization of those who initiate complaints or take part in complaints proceedings is also prohibited under this policy.

5. Sexual Interactions and Positive Consent

When engaging in any sort of sexual or romantic interaction with another person, it is vital to be aware of how to do so without violating the other person’s equity.

Participants are required to seek positive consent when engaging in any conduct of a sexual or potentially sexual nature, including but not limited to sexual intercourse, physical intimacy, flirting, making sexual jokes, or suggestive bodily contact (e.g. dancing). A failure to acquire positive consent will be a breach of this policy and may constitute sexual harassment.

Positive consent requires a person to actively affirm that other parties in any sexual or romantic interaction are freely and voluntarily agreeing to what is occurring. All parties should enquire as to what other people are feeling (e.g. “are you ok with this?” “Are we going too fast?” “Do you like this?”). If you cannot determine the consent of the parties involved, you should end the sexual or romantic interaction.

You have not obtained positive consent if:

  • Someone is too drunk to understand what they are doing

  • You are using social status or a position of authority to pressure someone into commencing or continuing a sexual interaction

6. Conduct and Matters Regarding Debates

6.1 General Conduct

Debaters are required to treat each other and the adjudicators with respect. This includes:

  • Respecting the rules of the competition

  • Refraining from disrupting or distracting other debaters or adjudicators, whether through words, sounds or conduct

  • Accepting the decision of the adjudicator(s)

Adjudicators are also required to treat debaters and other adjudicators with respect by:

  • Respecting the rules of the competition

  • Refraining from disrupting or distracting other debaters or adjudicators, whether through words, sounds or conduct

  • Refraining from insulting or non-constructive commentary on speeches or speakers

Additionally, the language used within debates can often unintentionally lead to equity violations. The Equity Team urges all participants to be mindful that fiery/aggressive rhetoric may be triggering for other participants (especially on motions that may relate to poverty, war, sexual assault or minority issues).

All participants must also ensure that they try to avoid making generalisations about any group on the basis of any protected attribute. For example, statements should be phrased as “some members of X community” rather than “all X people”.

6.2 Gender Pronouns

Australs 2015 recognizes that participants have diverse gender identities that need to be respected. Australs 2015 requires the chair judge to introduce themselves to the entire room with their correct pronoun, to give a chance to any wing judges present to do the same, and to introduce the correct pronoun of each debater. This process is explained further in accompanying documentation.

It is also expected that participants respect both the pronoun introduction process and the pronouns of each speaker, and refer to speakers by their correct pronoun or with gender-neutral language. Failure to do so may breach this policy.

6.3 Reasonable Adjustments for Participants with Disability

Australs 2015 is committed to ensuring, as far as is reasonably practicable, that all participants can fully take part in the tournament.

As such, adjustments may need to be made for participants with a disability, such as allocation of debating rooms close to the briefing hall, or use of assistive technology.

If a participant with a disability requires an adjustment, they should contact the Equity Team as soon as practicably possible. The Equity Team will make an assessment and provide recommendations to the Adjudication Core and the Organising Committee, who will make any adjustments deemed reasonably necessary.

7. Complaints Procedures and Handling

7.1 Raising an Equity Complaint

If a participant feels that there has been a breach of this policy, then they may raise the matter with a member of the Equity Team. All complaints raised are treated as confidential, and the complainant will determine whether or not a complaint is investigated further.

Complaints may also be made anonymously. The Equity Team feels that all people should feel comfortable to raise concerns they may have as freely and easily as possible. However, for due process reasons, the Equity Team cannot investigate anonymous complaints or provide remedies for anonymous complaints.

Participants are also encouraged to contact the Equity Team to raise general equity related concerns, even if they do not feel an incident has occurred. Both anonymous complaints and general concerns enhance the Equity Team’s overall understanding of relevant issues occurring at the tournament, which will further assist in the prevention of future equity violations.

Complaints may be made informally or formally. An informal complaint is one that raises concerns, but does not require formal responses such as mediation or disciplinary action. These may be made in person or in writing. A formal complaint is where the complainant would like a formal response such as mediation or disciplinary action. Formal complaints must be made in writing.

Members of the Equity Team will excuse themselves from investigating and handling complaints that are made against them personally, or where a conflict of interest arises (e.g. one of the parties belongs to an institution they are affiliated with, they have a close personal relationship with one of the parties).

The Equity Team recognizes that some contingents appoint institutional equity officers. Contingent leaders and contingent equity officers may also refer matters reported to them to the Equity Team (with the consent of the person who made the report). However, it is important to note that institutional processes cannot replace this policy or the procedures outlined here.

7.2 Progressing an Equity Complaint

If the complainant does wish to progress with a complaint, the Equity Team shall:

  • Speak with the complainant to obtain full details of the incident

  • Speak with the offending participant to hear their side of the story

  • Speak with any other participants as required by the circumstances

Following this investigation, the Equity Team will determine whether or not a breach of this policy has occurred. Two members of the Equity Team as a minimum shall undertake investigations, although additional members may also be involved, as required.

At any point during this process prior to resolution, a complainant may withdraw their complaint. At such a point, any investigation automatically ceases, and the initial complaint is treated as null and void. Equity, Discrimination and Harassment Policy

7.3 Resolution Mechanisms and Penalties

If, following the investigation of the Equity Team, a breach of this policy is found to have occurred, the Equity Team may do any/all of the following:

  • Explain the complaint to the offending participant and have a discussion with them about why their remark or action was inappropriate

  • Issue a warning to the offending participant

  • Request that the offending participant provide an apology

  • Bring the relevant participants together to conciliate the dispute

In serious cases, the Equity Team may also recommend to the Organizing Committee take formal disciplinary action. Such action may include:

  • Removal from events hosted by the tournament, including social events

  • Removal from the tournament’s tab, either temporarily or permanently

  • Expulsion from the tournament

  • Involvement of law enforcement agencies

Where formal disciplinary action is taken, the offending party and the complainant will be provided with written notification.

7.4 Appeals

Any participant subject to disciplinary action may appeal the decision within twelve hours of receiving notification. Complainants also have a right to appeal under the same conditions.

Under the AIDA Constitution s 17, participants who feel that their equity has been violated may also request a meeting of the AIDA Disputes Tribunal. Under the AIDA Constitution s 18, the decisions of the Disputes Tribunal may be further reviewed by AIDA Council.

8. Legal & Policy Framework

8.1 AIDA Constitution

8.2 National Human Rights Commission Act 2001 (Republic of Korea)

9. Acknowledgements

The Equity Team would like to acknowledge the following documents that were used to inform the creation of this policy – University of Sydney Union Debates Equity Policy, Melbourne University Debating Society Equity Policy.

The Equity Team would also like to acknowledge the invaluable advice and input of Patricia Johnson-Castle in the creation of this policy.

Appendix D
Australs Gender Pronoun Introductions

As at WUDC 2015, Australs 2015 has a pronoun introduction procedure. This is because participants have diverse gender identities that should be respected. Misgendering someone or failing to use their correct pronoun can be alienating and is disrespectful. No one should ever assume a person’s gender identity or their correct pronouns based on appearance.

It is the responsibility of the chair judge to introduce themselves to the entire room with their correct gender pronoun, and to give a chance to any wing judges present to do the same. Debaters, in filling out the team ballot, will have the opportunity to state their correct gender pronouns. If a speaker does not wish to identify a pronoun, they are not required to do so.

When the chair judge calls each debater to speak, they will also announce their correct gender pronouns. For example, a chair may say “I now call on the first affirmative speaker X, whose pronouns are she and they, to begin this debate”. If a speaker has decided not to state their pronoun, the chair should state that the speaker has expressed no preference. The process should be explicit and deliberate, and is the responsibility of the chair, though others may call for it if the chair forgets. All participants should treat pronoun introductions seriously.

It is then the responsibility of all the participants to keep mindful of each other’s correct gender pronouns. Even if the number of transgendered people in the circuit is relatively low, participants should listen intently during introductions with a mind towards the necessary amount of nuance that can potentially present itself.

For example, where some transgender or gender fluid people might identify with “ze,” others may identify with “they” and vice versa. Some may have no strong preference for any pronoun. If mistakes are made, it falls to the chair to politely correct the error in a way least obtrusive to the round.

When speaking, it is also an option for people to structure their sentences in a way that avoids referring to someone through gender pronoun at all. This can be useful, for example, where a speaker has forgotten someone’s correct pronoun and wishes not to offend by making a mistake.

Appendix E
Solbridge Australs Language Guidelines

The goal of equity at Australs is for the event to be as inclusive as possible for every potential participant, and the burden of that is on each and every participant to be sensitive and considerate in how they interact with others.

This can sometimes be a challenge when, for example, finding appropriate language while debating about sensitive topics. Not everyone can be expected to know everything about a sensitive topic.

We on the equity team realize that making this inclusiveness a reality entails not just good will, but a fair amount of learning as well. No full or comprehensive guide for this exists. While we definitely encourage participants to work towards this end and to learn on their own and from each other, we hav ealso come  up with our own set of suggestions about the appropriate use of language that we hope can serve as a starting point.


Avoid use of the word “all” when referring to groups of people, especially when speaking of negative traits. It discounts the possibility and existence of exceptions, and offends in that way. Instead, use words like “many,” or “some” which do not make this same mistake, for example: “All poor people are bad at making long-term decisions” vs “Many people who are impoverished have a hard time making long-term decisions.”

Put people’s humanity first. There is a subtle but important difference between the phrase “poor person” and the phrase “person who is impoverished.” The former presents the poverty as an almost defining characteristic, while the latter leads with a recognition o personhood to which the poverty is a mere condition.

Recognize that many conditions are externally imposed. For example, instead of saying “poor people are bad at long-term planning,” say “poverty makes long-term planning difficult.”

As a general principle, phrase everything as if you are talking about someone in the room. If you feel what you say might offend them, then adjust it. If what you seek to say is indeed true, this should be possible. If after several adjustments you can not make it inoffensive, then simply drop it.

Please also be aware on slang terminology, which is often highly contextual. Where possible, try to avoid using slang terminology, or if you do need to refer to such terms please ensure that you explain their meaning and context.

2. Sex and Gender

It is important to keep aware of another’s correct gender pronoun, the one they identify with. Do not assume what a person’s gender pronoun is based on their appearance. There will be an opportunity for each participant to state their correct gender pronoun, and it is important to be aware of this and respect the pronouns of others.

Some LGBTQIA people may have reclaimed previously derogatory words, such as “fag,” or “dyke”. This does not make the use of these words by people who do not identify as LGBTQIA appropriate. These words can still be loaded with cultural baggage in ways someone not LGBTQIA might not understand, and this can be very hurtful to someone still struggling with that reality.

Recognize that language has evolved in a very gendered way, and hasn’t caught up to be inclusive of many identities now such as with people with a gender identity other than male or female. Realize that this reflects on our unconscious habits in its use. It is more inclusive to make an effort to not use “he” as a default pronoun when referring to hypotheticals, and to instead use “they” or even just structuring a sentence to eliminate the need for a gendered pronoun.

The notes above about generalization are particularly relevant when characterizing people through their sex or their gender, since the associated problems with generalization are very commonplace in regular language. For example, instead of hearing that women are raised to be submissive and men are raised to suppress their emotions, we are instead more likely to hear that women are simply submissive, and that men are simply out of touch with their emotions.

Recognize that terminology here is strongly contested, and that even the term “gender identity” and the use of the term “LGBTQIA” as an umbrella term can be questionable as well. Ultimately, support the right of people to identify themselves as they choose.

3. Race

Similar to the situation with LGBTQIA issues, some offensive racial terms such as “nigger” have been reclaimed by some from communities which these terms oppress. These words are still inappropriate for use by others.

Similarly, members of a racial group might make jokes about their own racial “attributes”, such as misuse of English, or a predisposition to some kind of racial or religious intolerance. It is important here to note both that it is inappropriate for others to make these jokes, and to remember as well the above comments about generalization when speaking about this more seriously.

4. Corrections in-round

We believe it appropriate for chairs to comment on the use of language in a round in between speeches in the same way that they might comment to enforce order. Sometimes in rounds participants may encounter people using language that is problematic for the topic at hand, where the language was almost certainly used because of a lack of exposure/inexperience rather than to cause offence.

For example, someone saying the word “Negro” might not have a lot of exposure to the historical understanding of that word and might not realize that it is a very loaded term. The chair can say something to the effect of “that didn’t affect the rankings in this round, but that word is very historically loaded. I don’t think you realized this, but in the future please avoid that phrasing.

Appendix G

Solbridge Australs Complaints Process Infographic

  1. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” 1984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, edited by Audre Lorde: 110-114, Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press, 1984.

  2. David Aronson. ‘Managing the Diversity Revolution: Best Practices for 21st Century Businesses,’ Civil Rights Journal, 6 (2002): 46-9; Mary Ann Bodine Al-Sharif. ‘The Need for Change: Educational Reform,’ Race, Gender & Class, 18, 3/4 (2011): 192; Michalle E. Mor Barak. Managing Diversity: Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace. (Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2005), 218; Robert D. Putnam. ‘E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century: The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture,’ Scandinavian Political Studies, 30, 2 (2007): 139-40.

  3. Patricia Bradshaw. ‘Power as Dynamic Tension and its Implications for Radical Organisational Change,’ European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 7, 2 (1998): 122-3; Prue Burns and Jan Schapper. ‘The Ethical Case for Affirmative Action,’ Journal of Business Ethics, 83, 3 (2008): 370; Sandra Corlett and Sharon Mavin. ‘Intersectionality, Identity and Identity Work: Shared Tenets and Future Research Agendas for Gender and Identity Studies,’ Gender in Management: An International Journal, 29, 5, (2014): 260-1; Kimberle Crenshaw. ‘Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence against Women of Color,’ Stanford Law Review, 43, 6 (1991): 1245; Nancy DiTomaso and Robert Hooijberg. ‘Diversity and the Demands of Leadership’ Leadership Quarterly, 7, 2 (1996): 164-5, 173; Robin T. Ely and David A. Thomas, ‘Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes,’ Administrative Science Quarterly, 46, 2 (2001): 231; Carley Foster and Sue Newell. ‘Managing Diversity and Equal Opportunities – Some Practical Implications,’ Business & Professional Ethics Journal, 21, 2 (2002): 11-12; Frances J. Milliken, Frances J. and Luis L. Martins ‘Searching for Common Threads: Understanding the Multiple Effects of Diversity in Organizational Groups,’ The Academy of Management Review, 21, 2 (1996): 404-9; Michele S. Moses. ‘Moral and Instrumental Rationales for Affirmative Action in Five National Contexts,’ Educational Researcher, 39, 3 (2010): 218-220, 223; Mike Noon. ‘The fatal flaws of diversity and the business case for ethnic minorities,’ Work Employment & Society, 21, 4 (2007): 776.

  4. Caroline Dickie, Zhanna Soldan and Mike Fazey. Diversity at Work: Working With and Managing Diversity. (Melbourne: Tilde Publishing) 2012; Mor Barak, Managing Diversity.

  5. George B. Cunningham and Michael Sagas. ‘People make the difference: The influence of the coaching staff’s human capital and diversity on team performance,’ European Sport Management Quarterly, 4, 1, (2004); Alison Doherty, Janet Fink, Sue Inglis and Donna Pastore. ‘Embedding a culture of diversity through frameworks of power and change,’ Sport Management Review, 13, 4 (2010).

  6. Equality Challenge Unit, Academic Teaching Staff: Developing Equality and Diversity Skills, Knowledge and Values, (2015), 6-7. Accessed 15 November 2015,

  7. This has similarly been found in the broader higher education context – see further: Adrienne S. Chan, ‘Policy Discourses and Changing Practice: Diversity and the University-College,’ Higher Education, 50, 1 (2005): 139; Patricia A. Kreitz. ‘Best Practices for Managing Organisational Diversity,’ The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34, 2 (2008): 105.

  8. Alison J. Doherty. and Packianathan Chelladuri. ‘Managing Cultural Diversity in Sport Organizations: A Theoretical Perspective’ Journal of Sport Management, 13, 4 (1999): 291.

  9. Corlett and Mavin, “Intersectionality, Identity and Identity Work” 265; Doherty and Chelladuri, “Managing Cultural Diversity”, 286-7.

  10. Hicks, Douglas A. ‘Religion and Respectful Pluralism in the Workplace: A Constructive Framework,’ Journal of Religious Leadership, 2, 1 (2003): 30-2.

  11. Emily Gray. ‘What is heteronormativity?’ GEA – Gender and Education Association, 26 March 2011. Accessed 15 November 2015,

  12. For example, the use of ‘he’ as a default pronoun when referring to hypotheticals, or assumed generalisations about minority groups.

  13. Renate Mai-Dalton. ‘Managing Cultural Diversity on the Individual, Group and Organisational Levels,’ in Leadership Theory and Research: Perspectives and Directions, edited by Martin M. Chemers and Roya Ayman, (San Diego CA: Academic Press Inc., 1993) 196; Putnam, “E Pluribus Unum”, 149-51.

  14. Mor Barak, Managing Diversity, 219; Moses, “Moral Rationales” 218, 220, 223-4; David A. Thomas and Robin D. Ely. ‘Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity’, Harvard Business Review, 74, 5 (1996): 38-9.

  15. Equality Challenge Unit, Promoting Good Relations on Campus: A Guide for Higher and Further Education, (2013) 3. Accessed 15 November 2015,

  16. Doherty and Chelladuri, “Managing Cultural Diversity”, 284; L. R. Hoffman. ‘Homogeneity of member personality and its effect on group problem solving,’ Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 58, 1 (1959); L. R. Hoffman and N.R. Maier. 1961. ‘Quality and acceptance of problem solutions by members of culturally homogeneous and heterogeneous groups,’ Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62, 2 (1961); Milliken and Martins, “Searching for Common Threads”, 403; Orlando C. Richard. ‘Racial Diversity, Business Strategy and Firm Performance: A Resource-Based View,’ The Academy of Management Journal, 43, 2 (2000); J. A. Ruhe. ‘Effects of leader sex and leader behavior on group problem-solving.’ Proceedings of the American Institute for Decision Sciences, Northeast Division, (1978); Thomas and Ely, “Making Differences Matter”, 35-6; Warren E. Watson, Kamalesh Kumar and Larry K. Michaelsen. ‘Cultural Diversity’s Impact on Interaction Process and Performance: Comparing Homogenous and Diverse Task Groups’ Academy of Management Journal, 36, 3 (1993): 596, 599.

  17. E. S. Anderson. ‘The democratic university: The role of justice in the production of knowledge,’ in The Just Society, edited by E. F. Paul, F. D. Miller, & J. Paul, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995); A. L. Antonio, M.J. Chang, K. Hakuta, D.A. Kenny, S. Levin, & J.F. Milem. ‘Effects of racial diversity on complex thinking in college students,’ Psychological Science, 15, 8 (2004); M. J. Chang. ‘Does racial diversity matter? The educational impact of a racially diverse undergraduate population,’ Journal of College Student Development, 40, 4 (1999); M. J. Chang. ‘The Positive Educational Effects of Racial Diversity on Campus,’ in Diversity challenged: Evidence on the impact of affirmative action, edited by G. Orfield with M. Kurlaender, (Cambridge, MA: Civil Rights Project and Harvard Education Publishing, 2001); Patricia Gurin. ‘Selections from the compelling need for diversity in higher education: Expert report of Patricia Gurin,’ Equity and Excellence in Education, 32, 2 (1999); P. Gurin, E.L. Dey, S. Hurtado, and G. Gurin. (2002). ‘Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes,’ Harvard Educational Review, 72, 3 (2002).

  18. George Lawlor. ‘Why I don’t need consent lessons’ The Tab, Warwick, 14 October 2015. Accessed 15 November 2015,

  19. Ely and Thomas, “Cultural Diversity” 232; A. M. Konrad, S. Winter, and B. A. Gutek ‘Diversity in work group sex composition: Implications for majority and minority members’ in Research in the Sociology of Organizations, edited by P. S. Tolbert and S. B. Bacharach. (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1992); S. J. South, C. M. Bonjean, W. T. Markham, and J. Corder. “Social structure and intergroup interaction: Men and women of the federal bureaucracy.” American Sociological Review, 47, 5 (1982).

  20. Nigel Basset-Jones. ‘The Paradox of Diversity Management, Creativity and Innovation,’ Creativity and Innovation Management, 14, 2 (2005): 172; Catherine C. Eckel, and Philip J. Grossman. ‘Managing diversity by creating team identity,’ Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization, 58, 3 (2005): 372.

  21. Basset-Jones, “Paradox of Diversity Management”, 172-4; Marie-Elene Roberge and Rolf van Dick. ‘Recognizing the benefits of diversity: When and how does diversity increase group performance,’ Human Resource Management Review, 20, 4 (2010): 298.

  22. Al-Sharif “The Need for Change”, 195; Bradshaw “Power as Dynamic Tension”, 128-130; Chan “Policy Discourses”, 139; Kimberle Crenshaw. ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,’ The University of Chicago Legal Forum, (1989): 1989 150-1; Milliken and Martins, “Searching for Common Threads” 403-4; Lynne M. Shore, Beth G. Chung-Herrera, Michelle A. Dean, Karen Holcombe Erhart, Don I. Jung, Amy E. Randal and Gangaram Singh. ‘Diversity in organizations: Where are we now and where are we going?’ Human Resource Management Review, 19, 2 (2009): 118.

  23. Al-Sharif, “The Need for Change”, 195.

  24. Chan “Policy Discourses”, 143; Dickie, Diversity at Work, 134.

  25. Kreitz, “Best Practices”, 103.

  26. Equality Challenge Unit, Promoting Good Relations, 3, 5-7.

  27. Kreitz, “Best Practices”, 101.

  28. Barbara Bagilhole. ‘Applying the Lens of Intersectionality to UK Equal Opportunities and Diversity Policies,’ Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 27, 3 (2010): 265-6; Shore et al. “Diversity in organizations”, 123.

  29. Equality Challenge Unit, Academic Teaching Staff, 12-4.

  30. Bagilhole, “Lens of Intersectionality”, 268; Equality Challenge Unit, Academic Teaching Staff, 10, 12-14.

  31. Bagilhole, “Lens of Intersectionality”, 269.

  32. PEPUDA 2000

  33. Bradshaw “Power as Dynamic Tension” 132; Foster and Newell, “Managing Diversity”,18.

  34. Equality Challenge Unit, Mainstreaming: equality at the heart of higher education, (2011), 10. Accessed 15 November 2015,

  35. Aronson “Managing the Diversity Revolution,” 59-63; Crenshaw, “Demariginalizing the Intersection”, 151; Equality Challenge Unit, Mainstreaming, 9-11; Equality Challenge Unit, Quality assurance: embedding equality within college practice and processes, (2012), 9. Accessed 15 November 2015,

  36. William T. Bielby. ‘Promoting racial diversity at work: Challenges and solutions,’ in Diversity at Work, edited by Arthur P. Brief, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008) 69-70; Mor Barak, Managing Diversity, 53, 57.

  37. PEPUDA 2000

  38. This is particularly true for stigmatized groups whose difference is less visible – without clear and accommodating frameworks such as equity policies, they are likely to choose non-disclosure to avoid upsetting the status quo. See further Shore et al. “Diversity in organizations,” 123.

  39. Equality Challenge Unit, Mainstreaming, 2; Kreitz, “Best Practices”, 103.

  40. Chan “Policy Discourses”, 144-5.

  41. DiTomaso “Diversity and the Demands of Leadership” 170.

  42. Ely and Thomas, “Cultural Diversity” 254; Roberge and van Dick, “Recognizing the benefits”, 303-4.

  43. Mai-Dalton, “Managing Cultural Diversity”, 197.

  44. There may be outlier circumstances, for example, in cases involving self-harm, that requires equity officers to act against the will of the individual concerned.

  45. Crenshaw “Mapping the Margins”, 1246.

  46. For example, see the case study of a higher education diversity committee without clear terms of reference and procedure in Chan, “Policy Discourses”, 143-145.

  47. Equality Challenge Unit, Promoting Good Relations, 28-9.

  48. Equality Challenge Unit, Mainstreaming, 3-5; Foster and Newell, “Managing Diversity”, 13; Mor Barak, Managing Diversity, 229.

  49. Research in diversity management research demonstrates that having a clear and consistent message changes perceptions and attitudes in everyday contexts, while conflicting messaging impedes a diversity friendly culture. See further: Al-Sharif, “The Need for Change,” 196; Bielby, “Promoting Racial Diversity”, 55-6; Bradshaw “Power as Dynamic Tension”, 128; Doherty and Chelladuri, “Managing Cultural Diversity”, 286-7; Equality Challenge Unit, Promoting Good Relations, 32; Equality Challenge Unit, Academic Teaching Staff, 10; Roberge and van Dick, “Recognizing the benefits” 300-1.

  50. World Universities Debating Championships Debating and Judging Manual, (2014). Accessed 15 November 2015,

  51. Equality Challenge Unit, Mainstreaming, 6-9; Equality Challenge Unit, Promoting Good Relations, 30.

  52. Dickie, Diversity at Work, 145; Equality Challenge Unit, Mainstreaming, 3-5, 14; Equality Challenge Unit,  Quality Assurance, 6-8.