EBoard · Elections

Candidate Statements for Special Election for Novice Mentor

A Special Election for 2013 Novice Mentor will be held on Tuesday, January 29th at 9:00 PM in Murray 210, at the outset of that day’s meeting. The position was made vacant by the resignation of Kurt Falk, who is taking a semester off from Rutgers.

A file photo of Kurt Falk preparing to mentor novices at a tournament.
A file photo of Kurt Falk preparing to mentor novices at a tournament.

There are five candidates for the position and their statements are listed below in alphabetical order:
Arbi Llaveshi
Deepta Janardhan
Henry Phipps
Russell Potter
Sean Leonard


Arbi Llaveshi
Hey guys, I didn’t have time to write a candidate statement. If you’d like you can look to my previous statement for vp to learn why I’m a generally cool guy. I just learned the deadline for novice mentor application was tuesday night during the first meeting of the year DURING THE FIRST MEETING OF THE YEAR. I’ll answer your cool questions during election night.
– Arbs.


Deepta Janardhan
Hi everyone, Deepta here. I am running to fill in for the position of Novice Mentor for the 2013-2014 term. I think the main reason why you should vote for me, out of all of those running, is because of my philosophy on the novice mentor position. I believe that it exists largely to integrate the people who are newest at debate, into our team as a whole. In order to do this, a good novice mentor would need to be approachable, patient, and proactive- all qualities which I possess.

I have spent a good deal of time getting to know the novices on our team this year. During meetings, I always offered to stay back to judge rounds during weeks when I wouldn’t be participating in a tournament. During tournaments, I ask them how their rounds are going, and if they had difficulty, give them ideas about how to overcome the challenge. Even while giving advice, however, I always try to do this in a manner as to not shut down their own ideas, but just to jog their brains and make them think about things that they hadn’t considered before.

As Novice Mentor, I would be willing to extend all of these things which I already do, to a far greater extent, by constantly looking out for things that the novices are having trouble with, or reasons that they may be getting discouraged. I would then take active steps to try and solve the problem, by bringing it up during e-board meetings, or holding special sessions with Storey and Baia if the issue is more skills-based.

This year I see a novice class that shows a lot of potential. If elected, I promise that I will do my very best to try and bring it out even further.


Henry Phipps
Hey RUDU, I’m running to be your Novice Mentor. I believe I will do an excellent job as your Novice Mentor, not to mention having fun doing it. I’d like to briefly go over why you should vote for me for your new Novice Mentor.

I think Kurt did a really great job outlining the roles and responsibilities of the Novice Mentor role. The Novice Mentor is meant to help (primarily) novices on the team become more acquainted with the style of debate we compete in. Beyond this, the Novice Mentor also helps incorporate new team members as part of the team, not just in a debate format sense, but a social sense as well. Having someone as a liaison when you’re becoming just acquainted with a new large group (especially as one as large, tight, and wacky as all of us) is incredibly vital in order to ensure their enjoyment of the activity. Furthermore, the Novice Mentor is also in charge of organizing high school visits and novice retreats. These events are important in garnering interest from the beginning, in order to ensure a strong team in the next year.

It would be a true honor to be elected as your Novice Mentor. First of all, I truly enjoy connecting with people and getting to know them. I quickly introduce myself to new people on the team and do it out of the enjoyment of meeting someone new. Not only that, but as someone who is well connected with APDA, I cannot only introduce new people to our team, but make them feel more acquainted with other teams as well. While Kurt was Novice Mentor, I was quick to volunteer myself with brief info sessions concurrent to meetings when there were a large number of people new at that meeting. Furthermore, I would also help Kurt with Pro-Am practice rounds to help these novices get a crash course in debate.

Bringing back Novice Workshops is also a priority. Having a time and place where Novices can work on a specific part of debate is important in helping with the confidence of any debater. Kurt started these last year before Swat novice, and I think we should bring these back with more consistency, and not just for the novices. Many teams have consistent case writing sessions, and it would be good to create these team bonding experiences in order to strengthen the confidence of both Novices and Varsity. Finally, events such as high school visits and novice retreats are necessary. One of the first things I did after I got to New Jersey (despite the many protests from Rachel) was make as much as the last Novice Retreat as I could. I think contacting more high schools, and making novice retreats more accessible are important for long term expansion.

At the end of the day, you probably have a tough choice ahead of you with many people with good ideas. Because of all the reasons stated before though, I believe voting for me for Novice Mentor is the right decision, for I would be more than happy to be that liaison that’s so important for our team.

Thank you.


Russell Potter
Hi everyone! Russell here, and I’m running for Novice Mentor of RUDU!

This position’s predecessor, Kurt, was a trailblazer, under whose guidance; RUDU had many successes. Having observed his formula for success, I too think that I possess many traits, which make me your ideal candidate. To these ends, I have three points as to why you should vote for me.

1. Dedication – I think that this was one of Kurt’s biggest strongpoints, in that I’ve never met someone else so dedicated to the success and establishment of camaraderie among the team. I like to think that I too embody this characteristic. I’ve made it a policy of attending nearly every tournament, meeting, and doing practice rounds every available night. I’ve been highly successful and demonstrated a marked improvement from my novice year, which has inspired me to look back on what made me successful as a debater. If something needs to be done, I always make sure I’m there serving the team, helping it achieve. I’ve volunteered to organize debates, participate in demo rounds, and am willing to offer anything, even something as small as an ear to listen, to my fellow teammates.

2. Responsibility – This is one of my best attributes, and where I think that I can demonstrate my ability to work as hard as Kurt, if not harder. As a student who balances a 3.83 GPA, responsibility and organization are crucial to my life. I’ve begun to take upon an increasing amount of responsibility to assist the team as a whole. A prime example is with the planning for our summer debate camp, where a lack of performance by certain team members threatened our deadline. When I found out about the issue, I took it to create an entire content schedule for the camp, breaking down core issues of how to teach debate, and leaving time for scheduled events. Having a sense of responsibility and understanding of how to breakdown content so that it is both entertaining and understandable is an area where I thrive. The majority of the job of Novice Mentor would be to adapt programs and exercises to working with novices and help to ensure that our novice classes can reach new heights.

3. Goals – This is something that any good candidate needs to show, and is a hallmark for why Kurt was such an excellent Novice Mentor. To these ends, I have three areas, where I would work to improve if elected.

– Novice Events: One of the greatest things that we did as a team was the facilitation of novice exercises and scrimmages with other schools. I think they are uniquely beneficial to novices who feel like they lack direction in competitive events. I believe we should organize more of these and work towards addressing areas where novices feel lost. I also think, that as someone who was fortunate enough to Pro-Am with an experienced varsity member during my novice year, that I uniquely see the benefits of working across skill levels, and would seek to promote more Pro-Am experiences.

– Inter-School Relations: One of my best experiences in debate was participating in the demo rounds in Point Pleasant high school. I know that Kurt’s dream was to set up a funneling program between high school and college to recruit future debaters, and I too would seek to pursue such a program to make our team as great as possible. Further, I think that we ought foster communications with our local schools, like TCNJ, and rekindle scrimmage programs between them. This could be especially beneficial to novices, who get experience in debating against more varsity members while also practicing in the comfort of their own school.

– Novice Feedback Program: Lastly is an idea I had recently, which is to establish a feedback program in some capacity in order to get feedback on areas of improvement, so we can become more successful in our debate career, and also in the retention of our novices, who are our literal future.

Kurt left large shoes to fill, as he truly made a difference on the team for the better. I too would like a chance to make equally great strides for our team and make our future bright. I’m not saying that I would ever be able to replace Kurt, as I don’t think any of us can, but I think that based on his successes and my skillset, that I am suited to work for this team as its next Novice Mentor.


Sean Leonard
The office of Novice Mentor requires a select set of attributes in order to fulfil it’s entire responsibility. This responsibility is not one to be taken lightly, as it arguably determines the success of the entire team, even if that success manifests a year or two after the actions of the office itself. To be an effective Novice Mentor, you have to adequately balance training, recruitment, and retention of new people. If any of these factors are neglected, then the team, as a whole, will suffer as a result. Understanding this, I, Sean Leonard, would like to declare my intent to seek the position of Novice Mentor, promising to fulfill the three attributes of being a novice mentor to the best of my ability.

As a novice myself, I have a unique perspective of recently joining debate, with the memory of my first tournament, or even my first round, still highly prominent in my mind. This not only allows me to relate to the people I would be helping in a beneficial way, but also be able to pinpoint certain issues that I remember going through in the beginning. In addition to this, although my total time in Debate has been short, my participation has been the maximum I could possibly muster. I’ve been able to participate in every tournament, the novice retreats, while only missing one meeting the entire semester. From the practice rounds at the debate house, to participating in the debate class, to volunteering in the debate team public recruitment opportunities, I’ve done my best to participate 100% in the club, and that same work ethic will be replicated if I’m elected here.

Considering there are three main attributes of a good Novice Mentor, I’d like to talk a bit about why I can easily fulfill and excell at each of them. Firstly, I am obviously more than capable at training novices in the basic rules of debate. There have been multiple times where I had to help out other novices or partners with learning, or casing, or whatever was required at the time. Due to the fact I’ve been working alongside novices the entire semester, I’ve acquired some valuable experience. However, I must admit that there is much I still do not know about Debate. Whatever short falls that I have in that capacity will be made up by the wealth of experience held by the remainder of the team. Obviously, the role of the novice mentor is not to teach everything, but rather, to facilitate basic understanding.

Secondly, the recruitment of new novices is highly important to team efficiency. I feel as though our current recruitment methods are more than adequate for the needs of the team as it stands now. Through a combination of the novice retreats, standard recruitment at activity fairs, as well as a little bit of press regarding our accomplishments, we can achieve the steady flow of people required to support the team in the long term.

Finally, retention of new recruits is arguably as important as the recruitment of them in the first place. Retention, in my opinion, is the area where the most potential good can be done. The reality is, a lot of people simply cannot be swayed to join debate, or even in some cases, try it out. Call in fear of public speaking, or simple disinterest, but we’ve all met the person who simply won’t entertain the idea of joining. Therefore, we need to focus highly on the people who show interest in the start, and try to facilitate a common image that incorporates them, and puts them in a position where they want to succeed. Having a novice mentor who is a novice themselves probably contributes to this, but additional measures are obviously required to ensure that more people stay on, ensuring a high overall skill level of the team itself.

In summation, I pledge to show the same amount of activity as Novice Mentor as I portrayed as a simple novice.

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