Focus on Debate, Not Debaters

By Shannon Payne, Virginia

As Timmy Clark, another of our fantastic Presiding Officers, made his rounds Monday morning through the Lee Hall committees, he spoke about his CONA experience and his life off the mountain. Currently a student at the University of Texas in Austin, Clark is applying to be a psychology major with a minor in religious studies.  Once he finishes his undergraduate education, he plans to attend a seminary for graduate school.

Aside from his school life and time as a PO, Clark drives a white 2004 Cobalt.  His favorite color is blue, and his favorite type of Eureka Treat is the Bollywood Bonanza.  Like EK, he prefers Harry Potter to Twilight, but also prefers the books to the movies (“I despise the movies with so much passion.”)

Clark spent four years at CONA before returning as a PO.  When asked about his most significant experience over those four years, he had to think for a long time before responding that two in particular stand out.  One of them was his first fire ceremony.

“It was so interesting to me, because we were 500 people uniting around America in a really personal way; we thought about responsibility, respect, caring, and honesty – the four core values of the YMCA.”  The second experience which Clark recalled was the Plenary Session from his second year, particularly because of the entertaining proposals presented.  Examples included mandatory circumcision and the selling of ad space on the dollar bill.  He said the experience was memorable because of the creativity his fellow delegates exhibited.

Over Clark’s four years at CONA, his own proposals included mandatory voting, a ban on political parties (which made it to the General Assembly), gun control (which made it to Plenary), and a Constitutional amendment to include the educational system.  Of these, Clark said his favorite was the one banning political parties.

This year, one proposal that has caught his attention is proposal 0503 by John Meacham of Texas.  Meacham proposes a 10 percent budget cut to NASA that “will be used to provide a $1.87 billion government subsidy to private corporations.”  Clark is interested by the idea of privatizing space travel and exploration.

When asked if he had any words of wisdom for delegates heading into second and third committees, General Assemblies and Plenary Session, Clark stressed the importance of respect and focusing on the proposals and the debate itself, not the debaters.

“Don’t get so fired up that you forget that you’re talking about proposals – we aren’t talking about each other.  Respect each other.”

Keep an eye out for Clark and our other POs, and keep reading to learn more about all of them!

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