by Cate Waters
North’s debate team lost its faculty adviser Wednesday, Jan. 28, history department chair Jonathan Bassett, after “the students on the team had a pattern of failing to follow school protocol about school sponsored trips,” said Bassett. The team will only compete in two more competitions this season.
The parents of junior Edward Ding, team captain, met with principal Jennifer Price Wednesday, Feb. 4 to discuss Bassett’s resignation and the future of the team.
“I am going to be their adviser,” said principal Jennifer Price. “I have never been an adviser in my entire career at North.”
According to Price, the team has gone through three advisers in the past nine months.
Senior Bill Shen, team member, welcomes Price’s involvement.
“Dr. Price has sort of stepped in as an interim for the last month of our season, so that’ll be good because she’s very hands on,” said Shen. “We need somebody, and we need somebody who knows what they’re doing, and sometimes I sort of doubt whether or not all of our advisers in the past have.”
Shen said he believed Bassett specifically told the team they did not need permission slips at a competition in October. “Miscommunication sort of led to some confusion,” said Shen.
North has a policy that requires teacher permission for missing or leaving early from school and parent signatures if any members are driving with someone who is not their parent. The team had trouble getting its forms in before competitions and making sure the school knew where it was going to compete.
According to Shen, the school policies were not clear to the students.
“We’ve definitely made mistakes, and we’re willing to own up to that, and we already have, repeatedly,” said Shen, “but we made those mistakes because we were ignorant of the policies which, when we asked about, were not told to us.”
Price said Shen was incorrect in his comment.
“In this last instance especially, with the Columbia tournament, where students went without permission, they were very clear about the rules and policies,” said Price.
The problem took root last spring when history teacher Peter Turner was the adviser, according to Price.
“The incident last year was when students went to a competition in North Carolina without our permission,” said Price.
The team went to North Carolina with a chaperone who was not approved by the school.
Sophomore Lucy Zheng, a team member, said, “ever since an incident occurred last year, it seems that the administration has always been trying to set us up.”
Price said she “vehemently” disagrees with Zheng’s comment.
“Since the incident last year we have been trying to get them to follow the policies and procedures of the school and the debate team has not been able to do that on a consistent basis,” said Price.
For the final month of the debate team’s season Price said, “my goal is to work collaboratively with the team, coach, and the captain, and I have also agreed to work with the captain’s mother, to make sure these types of problems do not persist.”