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Cape Town, South Africa

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[University Debate] What is racism? What is privilege? Secret rounds? Cape Town World’s 2019

[EDITED for formatting and clarity]

What is ✨WUDC✨?

WUDC is the World’s University Debating Championship. It is arguably the largest debating tournament in the world, is attended by up to 1000 people, and gets lots of money (hundreds of thousands? but don’t quote me on that). It is typically hosted between the end of December and the beginning of January. It really kills 2 birds with 1 stone, because people get to have a great winter vacation (or summer vacation, depending on where you are) and celebrate the new year with all of your mates.
There are a number of different people who are involved in debating tournaments. Intuitively, there are debaters and judges, who debate and judge in rounds. The Organizational Committee (OrgComm) is in charge of running the tournament. The AdjCore is the team that decides the motions, as well as doing many other things. There’s also a role called the “Tabbers” (or Tabsteam) which is a part of the OrgComm, who are incredibly important in the debate world. They record all of the scores and are a huge organizer of where everyone is debating in the next round. Especially with a tournament this size, it can be hectic because debaters and judges will inevitably go MIA, fill in their ballots (results) wrong, etc.
World’s is in British Parliamentary (BP) format. In a BP, you have 15 minutes to prepare a topic that you’re given, and you are given 7 minutes to speak. There are 8 speakers in total, 4 teams, and 2 sides (government and opposition). There are a number of technicalities to this format, but what is important to know is that you have 15 minutes to prepare your speech.“Breaking” basically means making it to the playoffs. WUDC has a break to open partial-double-octofinals, open octofinals, open quarterfinals, open semifinals and open finals. As well, WUDC has an ESL (English Second Language) quarter-final and EFL (English Foreign Language) quarter-final break. Often, ESL, EFL and Open break rounds will overlap with one another.

The messages that started it all

Of course, saying that this started everything is an oversimplification. Prior to this, there were undoubtedly other alleged incidences of racism that were brought forward. And of course, there is a lot of discussion on how WUDC has exhibited racism in the past - Western institutions have benefited from colonialism and slavery, people have inherent biases that can be very harmful, etc. BUT this was definitely a tipping point.
A judge from Namibia was late (after almost being hit by a car). Someone on the TabsTeam who is Irish called him “useless” in a WhatsApp message, and said that the competition “would be able to continue without him.”
I’ll quote part of the written statement from the Adjudication Core:
>On the 31st of December, the Adjudication Core was first made aware of a screenshot from a group-chat that was being circulated online. The Adjudication Core was also informed that there were ongoing conversations amongst participants regarding the screenshot and that the equity team was working to resolve the issue.>>On the 1st of January, members of the Adjudication Core were notified that the tab team member whose words were circulated online had been confronted and physically threatened on the evening of the 31st of December before two other tournament members intervened and that a tournament participant had attempted to physically enter the tab team member’s room without their consent. We were informed that this matter had been referred to equity, and the equity team was dealing with it.
Between this time and the protest, there was an alleged break-in to the TabTeam member’s room. The Equity Team released information about the situation, acknowledging that the initial contact made (prior to the harassment) was “plausibly initially well intentioned”, but that their subsequent actions were deemed harassment.

The Protest

On January 3, the TabsTeam member removed themselves from the tournament. An apology was facilitated by the WUDC Equity team between the TabsTeam member and the judge on the 2nd of January. The AdjCore and OrgComm were discussing a joint apology to be made before the results of the Final were to be released.
The motion (topic) was released for the Open Final, signalling the start of prep time. 5 minutes before the Final was supposed to begin, the AdjCore found out that the South African Caucus rejected their agreement. They had 2 demands:
  1. The apology and acknowledgement should not be made by certain members of the AdjCore. (i.e. a black member of the AdjCore should not be apologizing on behalf of the team). Originally, a black member of the AdjCore was set to be 1/2 of the people saying the apology.
  2. The apology and acknowledgement should be given right before the Final was set to happen.
If these demands were not fulfilled, participants would peacefully protest the Open Final. The AdjCore felt that they were in a difficult situation. 1. Some of the AdjCore was still judging the ESL Final, so they were unable to participate in this discussion, 2. They did not have a final version of their apology+acknowledgement. Overall, new negotiations would take too long (previous ones had lasted hours), and the AdjCore deemed it unfeasible. This was communicated to the Caucus, who consequently informed the AdjCore that they would be occupying the stage that the Open Finals was supposed to be on. And with that, the 15 minute preparation time was over, and the round was set to start. The AdjCore decided that their next move was to run the Open Final in a private room backstage, without anyone’s knowledge that it was happening, besides the debaters and the judges. This is their justification:
>This was for two reasons: first, we felt that we had to respect the fact that we still had professional obligations to the completion of the tournament, and second, that it was unfair to the teams to make them stop their preparation indefinitely and essentially re-do a final after they had already begun. Making this decision required that we balance our professional obligations to ensure the Open Finals occured (which, as far as we are aware, have never not occured at a WUDC) with the protestors right to peacefully protest. Given the uncertainty about how the situation would eventually resolve itself and how long reaching a new compromise would take, especially in light of our deep disagreements about who would or would not be expected or permitted to deliver the apology, we elected to begin the final in a dressing room backstage.>>There is reasonable disagreement to be had about the merits of the decision. Given the information, we had at the time and the significant change in the manner in which the conversations about the apology were conducted, at the time that we made the decision we believed it the best way to balance our responsibilities to the tournament and respect the rights of the protestors to protest peacefully. Our intention was to be as fair as possible to teams while also trying to reach a new agreement with all members of the Adjudication Core present and enabling the grievances of participants to be fairly heard.
The AdjCore then reconvened to discuss the proposed contents of the apology. This took more than an hour. There was disagreement about 2 main things:
  1. “[The] responsibility for some of what was to be apologised for was a collective responsibility and should not be partitioned along racial cleavages given we worked end-to-end on every aspect of this tournament as a team”
  2. The contents of the apology (i.e. publicly calling out the member of the tabs team who had left the tournament and “apologizing for political issues that were outside the scope of the tournament”)
A Facebook page that was made called “Decolonize WUDC” clarified these demands in a statement.
  1. They were asking for specific members of the AdjCore and OrgComm who were involved in the situation to apologize. The AdjCore wanted to apologize as a whole, and this discussion lasted over an hour.
  2. They were not asking for the AdjCore to apologize for systemic and political issues. They wanted the OrgComm to apologize for increasing the registration fees from what was originally promised as it systemically locked out debaters.
The AdjCore recounted in their statement that during this negotiation, protestors began coming into the room in attempts to hurry up the conversation. Additionally, the AdjCore was surrounded by protesters, shaming them, etc. Members of the AdjCore were also uncomfortable with an implication that was made that non-black POC AdjCore members were white.


  1. Was the original message from the TabsTeam member racist?
  2. Did the Secret Final NEED to happen?
  3. Was the AdjCore Statement bad? Did it put too much blame on people who were hurt? Is this ✨white fragility✨?
  4. Callouts?

People had some THOUGHTS

Response to Original Message
There was definitely a mixed response to whether or not the original message was racist. People saying that it wasn't racist argue that calling someone "useless" isn't racist. Many gave testaments that said that the member of the TabsTeam was their friend and would never be racist. Others gave testaments of how being on the TabsTeam is stressful, and that it's just "Tabbing Culture".
I believe that this is a difference in how language is used in different countries. In South Africa, "useless" is racially charged, but it doesn't hold the same pejorative nature in some other countries (i.e. Ireland).
This is a statement from Decolonize WUDC:
>Firstly, when you are in a different part of the World you must concientize yourselves about the racial dynamics of that place. There is a long history where white people in South Africa used demeaning language to undermine the intellectual capacity of black people. That language obviously exists on a spectrum, but it always returns to the same premise; dehumanization. To use the word "useless" implied that [judge] had no value to the tournament and that cutting him from the tab would have no harmful impact. Many attempts at restorative justice in Southern Africa and around the world aimed to correct the idea that marginalized groups were disposable and using words like "useless" directly undermines those attempts.Secondly, Many peole have noted that [TabTeam Members] conduct is simply part of "tab culture" or the way she treats "everyone". Firstly, the mere existence of a tab culture does not make it any less toxic. In fact, that same culture often sends many a volunteer into tears or makes a Chair feel (for lack of a better word) "useless". Moreover, The zero-sum attitude of having tournaments run precisely on schedule comes at the cost of something the debate community cares about more, treating people in a dignified manner. It is precisely because of this principled treatment that we have equity teams. We have heard countless stories from PoC volunteers who noted [Tabteam Members] harsh language directed at them or in their immediate vicinity. This included language like "I will fuck you up". If that cut-throat culture lends it self to volunteers and particpants feeling intimdated, then we are happy to see relegated to irrelevance.Thirdly, she treated [judge] differently to the way she treated everyone else, especially other white judges. To white judges, attempts to fix ballots had been displayed on the announcement screens inbetween rounds. To [judge], he inexplicably had to endure a berating in front of 8 speakers, where a simple and respectful request would have achieved exactly the same outcomes. We should not just reserve dignified treatment for those who look like us or who have long lists of achievements.
If there is the assumption of no ill-intent, as there is a difference in understanding of the language used, I think we need to ask: Given that there's a difference in norms in different countries, should your words be taken into the context of the country you're in? Are you responsible for hurting those in that country if you act in a manner that is normal for you, but unacceptable to them?
Response to AdjCore Statement
Most of the public responses to the AdjCore Statement were critical. I think this quote sums up a lot of the sentiment:
>What bothers me about this statement is the imbalance in sympathies.You express sympathy for [Tabteam member], (justifiably because her safety was jeopardized), and you say that she didn't need to be included in apologies because she voluntarily removed herself from the tournament.You express sympathy for the adj core, who felt like there were unreasonable demands on them to apologize for things they didn't want to, and that they were too pressured. (and people harrassing the adj core is no good)You sympathize with the finalists, because it would be unfair to them to make the re-prep for a final. (and yeah I get that this was mega stressful and unfun for everyone)But where is the sympathy for the black debaters who have expressed all over Facebook that they felt marginalized and mistreated and excluded at the tournament? For the people who felt it was important to get a public apology from [Tabteam member]? As I can tell from their posts they don't have at all the same perspective on the back-and-forth leading to a final. This statement just seems very critical of them, that their demands were unreasonable, that they negotiated and then didn't follow through on the negotiation, that they timed the protest in a problematic way, that their protest was inconvenient. Where is the compassion and respect for their perspective?
Specifically, it's important to address the AdjCore's note of intimidation that occurred. This is a quote from a statement written by Decolonize WUDC:
>The Adj Core accused us of intimidation and "heckling". We did shame some of the members by name. But literally, all these callouts had only been about the delay. We had asked them aloud why they were taking so long. Ironically so for them, as they were an aggregation of some of the world's best debaters, who can construct complex arguments in fifteen minutes, but take indefinite periods of time to brief themselves on issues which really were not that extremely difficult to understand. Take this in context, we had asked very simply for an apology which did not even have to come from them, yet now the entire tournament was at the mercy of a few individuals who had not given us a reason for the delay and Secret Final. Considering all of this, I think it is fair to conclude that our frustration with the Adj Core was justified. The small measure to call them out publicly is not out of proportion with the massive delay they had caused. A delay, they wrongly tried to pin on the protest.>>Most elements of the Adj Core report is aimed at vilifying us, without an acknowledgment of our grievances, while it sympathizes with perpetrators. After almost every Preliminary round, Equity addressed a complaint about the mistreatment of People of Colour and threatened to delay the tournament. Yet, when our protest eventually shut the tournament down, it was as if we had imagined racism.
Another response:
>"Felt unsafe" is the most tired white/privileged fragility response to protests. At least be creative guys😂😷
Response to Secret Final
It's pretty widely agreed upon that there was no reason why the final NEEDED to happen. There were arguments made about professionalism and the merits of the debating tournament. However, the sentiment of many debaters was that ignoring a sit-in protest from people who have been hurt by the actions of members of your team is probably even less professional than addressing the issues. It may also have been better to have the debate in front of an audience, as many audience members were excited for the debate (it's like not being able to watch the debate equivalent of the Super Bowl).
There is also (imo) no reason why the Final topic couldn't be redone. Given that this all happened before the round (so no one had presented their speeches at that point), it's pretty easy for WUDC to put everything on hold and have them redo their 15 minute preparation time.
A large question that was raised was whether or not the secret final invalidates the peaceful protest. It's argued that it allows for the peaceful protest to happen while also allowing for the debate to continue. On the other hand, is it invalidating if the purpose of the protest is to put pressure on the AdjCore by delaying the Final?
However, there is a lot to be said about how long a renegotiation would take. Should the renegotiation have taken a few hours, many people would probably be upset with that. They could have delayed the final round slightly to attempt negotiations, and if that failed to happen in a timely manner, they could run the final secretly.
This was taken from a post make by Decolonize WUDC:
>The important thing to note is that no Secret Final would have been necessary had the tournament responded to our concerns timeously. We did not just decide at an instant to occupy the stage and block the finals. The eventual protest was a build-up of days’ worth of neglect to our concerns. The Equity Team had been deadlocked in an endless labyrinth of investigation, when the documentary evidence clearly pointed fault to [Tabteam Member]. In fact, they will probably accuse us of not lodging it "formally" as they have done before. This is false, as one of our members pointed out the message to Limpho Moeti, immediately after we had been made aware of the incident. [judge] had also raised his own concerns to the Equity Team. We are unsure then of what exactly would constitute a "formal" complaint after many stakeholders raised concerns.Above all of this, the Secret Final was insulting to our efforts. We wanted the tournament to listen to us, but yet again the "running" of a round was more important than the legitimate concerns of protestors. The Adj Core claimed that they all had "professional commitments" after the tournament, hence why the final had to continue behind closed doors. We find it absurd that every single person on a seven-person Adj Core would have been unavailable the exact moment the clock struck Midnight on the 4th of January. In fact, the massive delay of about two-and-a-half hours caused by them was even more threatening to their own commitments. We could have easily had a short delay, apology, the Open Final and then everyone could thereafter attend to their professional commitments.Adj Cores for WUDC and other tournaments should usually have contingency plans in place for emergencies, not to mention backup motions. Nothing prevented the AdjCore from stopping prep, working with our caucus, and releasing a new motion after one hour. The debate had not yet started, nor was the progress of prep to such an incontrovertible extent that the debate could not have been delayed. Even if that meant shifting the Open Final from the concert hall to the Prize Giving Banquet, where facilities were approximately the same, the debate could still have continued. New motions have been released before at WUDC. For example, when there might be a medical emergency or a strong objection by one team to a motion. We are simply unsure why a new motion would have been such great prejudice to perhaps the four best teams in the world, in comparison to the prejudice and undermining caused by hosting the final behind closed doors whilst we were fighting for justice. They would not have had to “re-do an entire final” as they state. They would only have to re-do prep.
I guess this is a conversation that exists prominently outside of debate too. This is particularly controversial, and where many people didn't agree. There are many reasons why callout culture is bad, and these reasons have probably been overwhelmingly explained in better words that I can string together.
Decolonize WUDC says this:
>Firstly, [judge] was embarrased on a public platform, twice. The first on the Whatsapp group and the second in front of a room of debaters where he was the Chair, making him seem incompetent. It must be noted that [judge] was perfectly happy to fix his mistakes on a new ballot and/or to comply with requests [tabteam member] had made. But the fact that she kept on badgering and pressuring him despite his attempts to comply obviously led to more mistakes. It only follows logically that because of that public humiliation that a public apology was needed.>>Secondly, private apologies do not tell the debate community of the vile conduct of one of their senior tournament members. A private apology would still see people around the Globe putting her on Tab Teams and admiring her, despite such conduct being deserving of punishment. We want to minimize the likelihood of this happening again, and it is only through public scrutiny that such conduct can be avoided again.
Balkan Dangerous Spaces Debating Shitposting
Balkan Dangerous Spaces Debating Shitposting is a meme group that stemmed off from Debating Shitposting, which I guess you can call the OG group. The purpose of this meme group was to create more of a space that wasn't as moderated as Debating Shitposting. Following Cape Town WUDC, Debating Shitposting banned memes about the situation. Imo this was pretty warranted because the discussions ranged from "She's racist", "no she's not", "yes she is", "no she's not" to ✨racism✨. Of course, Balkan Dangerous Spaces Debating Shitposting didn't ban these posts and some things were said. Some people argued that Black people should be less angry and more accommodating in order to be better liked and address racism. Others made many memes. There's not much more to this. Some memes were unfunny. Others were pretty tasteless. Some people gave opinions that weren't great. But who am I to judge, we debate because we're different 🤷‍♂️

The End

So this is a story that has been in my head for a while. I just think that people should be more open and empathetic. The TabsTeam member was on the TabsTeam for the European University's Debating Championship last year. Some people voiced their concerns but they were just ignored. I think that a lot of the core areas of contention remain unresolved, as there was a lot of polarization, to the point where I think it was hard to come to a final agreement. I wish there was some sort of better resolution, but I don't think there is.
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Cape Town View

Cape Town View submitted by NemesisPolicy to southafrica [link] [comments]

Beef ribs, Texas style all the way out in Cape Town

Beef ribs, Texas style all the way out in Cape Town submitted by AmVuBuLanCe to BBQ [link] [comments]

Let's procrastinate - Cape Town, South Africa

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Cape Town looking particularly stunning today

Cape Town looking particularly stunning today submitted by Pashungap to southafrica [link] [comments]

Doctor Who, Vagrant Queen, and Raised by Wolves all used the same abandoned waterpark in Cape Town South Africa as a shooting location.

Doctor Who, Vagrant Queen, and Raised by Wolves all used the same abandoned waterpark in Cape Town South Africa as a shooting location.
Doctor Who (2005) - S11E02 - The Ghost Monument
Vagrant Queen - S01E01 - A Royal Butt-Kicking
Raised by Wolves - S01E02 - Pentagram
Was watching Raised by Wolves last week and thought i recognized a location from an episode of Doctor Who, and then i just started Vagrant Queen and there it was again so i got curious. After a little digging i found its the abandoned Macassar Beach Pavilion.
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Restock of Ultra light 2 Cape Town on maxgaming

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After nearly running out of water in 2018, Cape Town dams are now overflowing

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The vagrant/begging situation in Cape Town is completely out of control. Is it the same elsewhere?

In Cape Town the situation is out of hand. I walk almost everywhere as I live centrally, and I can't even walk 4min to the closest shop without having 4-5 people begging and following me around. I feel bad for them, but if I help them I'll be broke before the week ends.
It is so bad. Not a single traffic stop in town, that I can think of, doesn't have them knocking on your car's windows. It is inescapable. You can't walk anywhere, or drive anywhere, without being inundated with "please sir".
And some of them are getting militant, and will just try and rob you. I have had some follow me into a checkers parking lot trying to steal from me, but luckily the guards saw them running through the entrance gate and caught them just in time.
I feel it is only going to get worse. I have lived in Cape Town since 1993, and it has never been this bad.
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Discovered a spot to smoke at – Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa

Discovered a spot to smoke at – Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa submitted by Diligent_Ocelot to 420 [link] [comments]

[Ajax Cape Town] Ajax Cape Town launch application to be renamed Cape Town Spurs

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Thought this sub would enjoy my first tattoo. Done by Gareth Lloyd at Cape Electric Tattoo, Cape Town, South Africa

Thought this sub would enjoy my first tattoo. Done by Gareth Lloyd at Cape Electric Tattoo, Cape Town, South Africa submitted by Utipla to tattoos [link] [comments]

Official: Ajax sells its 51% of the shares of Ajax Cape Town

Official: Ajax sells its 51% of the shares of Ajax Cape Town submitted by MrCrashdummy to AjaxAmsterdam [link] [comments]

Cape Town

Cape Town submitted by TroyElric to ContestOfChampions [link] [comments]

European Castle design exported to Africa : The Castle in Cape Town

European Castle design exported to Africa : The Castle in Cape Town submitted by EthiczGradient to europe [link] [comments]

I found this little guy in my backyard, Simon's Town (Cape Town) anyone can identify?

I found this little guy in my backyard, Simon's Town (Cape Town) anyone can identify? submitted by CarefreeSketches to southafrica [link] [comments]

Refueling after 6 hour flight in Cape town FACT.

Refueling after 6 hour flight in Cape town FACT. submitted by NaahLand to flightsim [link] [comments]

Herd immunity must be why Covid-19 is on the wane in Cape Town

Herd immunity must be why Covid-19 is on the wane in Cape Town submitted by Philofelinist to LockdownSkepticism [link] [comments]

The Garde Visit South Africa! Just finished the series and was very pleasantly surprised to find my town Cape Town get a mention

The Garde Visit South Africa! Just finished the series and was very pleasantly surprised to find my town Cape Town get a mention submitted by Quacktournament to LorienLegacies [link] [comments]

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