New Coach 411 is a monthly column designed to give new Speech and Debate Coaches the lowdown on the world of coaching. In column #25, Coach Rick Dorn discusses the function and importance of an equity office.
*Note from Lyle: Apologies for the late post!
New Coach 411 - Column #25
Hello! I hope the beginning of your year has gone well! This month, I thought I’d talk a bit about the value of the equity office. This is a newer development in schools and in the business office, and it was established a couple of years ago for Speech and Debate.
What exactly is the equity office? To put it succinctly, it is a type of complaint office. That sounds bad, but it is not. In any activity (or business), there is a possibility for unfair treatment or discrimination. With the way the world is changing, it is likely that someone at a tournament could say or do something that could be seen as discriminatory. After all, every single political commentator has said that a person in the news or a court decision is unfair and possibly aimed to discriminate. For example, affirmative action admissions at college was recently overturned by the Supreme Court due to some saying AA was discriminatory to white people. On the other hand, the Supreme Court then said it was okay for businesses to discriminate against their customers based on anything they would like. Mixed signals are prevalent from all sides.
The purpose of the equity office is to attempt to handle unfair situations in a peaceful, non-confrontational method. The student or coach who has a concern can go to a third party adult who can then try to solve the dilemma through mediation. It is much better than the old system where the person with the complaint went to the coach or fellow competitor and had an argument.
I’m not saying the mediator in the equity office can solve the problem one hundred percent of the time, but it has taken some of the tension out of the meets I’ve attended. The alleged victim can feel heard, and the alleged culprit can maybe learn to do better or clear up any misunderstandings about their intent. Either way, it is better than coaches yelling at each other in front of students.
Here’s why the equity office is important: we in the Speech world cater to a different population at times. That area of feeling different can cause those students (and coaches) to feel left out or picked on. Showing students compassion and a desire to respect students as members of our society who are deserving of respect and justice is huge. Our modern society in the country has lost some of that ability to respect one another regardless of differences, and it is up to the future leaders of the nation in the speech and debate world to try and fix some of that. It is good to demonstrate that acceptance of different people to our students, and it is good to continue to strive to understand people for who they are. People are people, and students are students, and all deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
If you have any questions or topics you would like explored, please email me at email@example.com.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Worland High School
Biography: Rick Dorn is a two diamond coach who has been teaching some kind of speech or theatre since 1992. He has been named Wyoming 3A Coach of the Year twice and has coached numerous students to national competition. He was recently honored as the 2022-2023 Communicator of the Year by the Wind River District.
Check out these Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resources from NSDA: https://www.speechanddebate.org/equity/