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The Oregon State University Forensics Team competes regionally, nationally, and internationally in individual events and international public debate. Individual events are public speaking and oral interpretation events that students prepare ahead of competitions. International public debate is an extemporaneous form of one-on-one debate where students are given a choice of five topics each round.
The team is coached by the Director of Forensics, Mark Porrovecchio, and his graduate assistants from the Speech Communication area of the School of Communication. The OSU Forensics Team is a member of the Performing Arts Board in the Speech Communication area of the School of Arts and Communication. The team is funded through student fees, team-based fundraising, and endowments. The team pays for registration fees, transportation, housing, and the majority of meals while at competitions. This ensures that the team is open to all regardless of financial background. Consequently, anyone who wants to improve all-important communication skills can do so through participation on OSU's team.
The primary purpose of participation in forensics is to gain skills in public speaking and argumentation. Forensics participation is one of the primary extra-curricular activities employers look for on resumes since it means an applicant possesses self-confidence, communication skills, organizational and time management skills. Many famous political, religious, and cultural leaders have forensics competition in their background.
The forensics team has a rich history at OSU. Founded in the late 1800s, the team was the only extra-curricular activity at Oregon Agricultural School. Debate, along with the Alumni Association, are the only things that remain of that original school. Over the years, OSU has been both innovative in its educational approach and successful in competition.
We are a member of the International Forensics Association (IFA), American Forensics Association (AFA), Pi Kappa Delta (PKD), International Public Debate Association (IPDA), Northwest Intercollegiate Debate League (NIDL), and the Northwest Forensics Conference (NFC). Regionally, we compete at eight to ten tournaments per season (primarily in the Fall and Winter terms) in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. In recent years we have traveled to national tournaments in Louisiana, Texas, and Minnesota, as well as competing internationally in Budapest, Hungary, Antwerp, Belgium, Paris, France, and Barcelona, Spain. Most years we also host the Earl Wells Memorial Speakeasy, an individual events and international public debate tournament, which draws schools from the Pacific Northwest and from as far away as Texas. Most importantly, forensics is a way to have fun and make great friends in an educational setting.
Interested in joining the team?
We are always looking for new students. Have a lot of experience with forensics? Great. No experience? Great too. We encourage students regardless of experience, major, or year in school to join forensics to improve their critical thinking and public speaking skills. Contact the Director of Forensics Mark Porrovecchio or the team. Or feel free to stop by a practice. We look forward to hearing from you.
The team generally holds two meetings per week--Mondays and Wednesdays from approx. 6:00-8:00 in the squad room (SHEP209)--during the Fall and Winter terms
Missing meetings without an acceptable excuse will affect your ability to attend tournaments and will result in your inability to practice at future meetings. If you miss a debate that you are scheduled for, you will not be able to debate at your next scheduled debate.
In addition to the weekly meeting, IE students are expected to sign up for no less than ½ an hour per week per event with Mark and/or an assistant coach. You can sign up for individual coaching times outside the forensics office, the graduate student offices, or Mark's office. Failure to make a scheduled appointment without sufficient notice will affect your ability to attend tournaments.
Debate rounds will be critiqued by all coaches in attendance. These constructive critiques will focus on the skills presented by the debaters. Students not actually debating may ask questions during the critique session but should refrain from discussing the merits of the case. Such discussions should be saved for discussions after coaching critiques are finished or after the meeting.
The goal is not to confuse your opponents, nor is it to overwhelm them with technical details and a mountain of evidence. Rather, the object is to be persuasive by crafting reasonable arguments that are well articulated.
Students are given a choice of five topics each round. Each debater, in concert with their opponent, narrows the choices down to the one that they will debate. A debate can focus on contemporary political issues or timeless philosophical questions.
Students interested in more details related to international public debate are directed to the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) website, where they will find a wealth of information.
"Forensics" is a word rooted in the Western world's classical experience. The Greeks organized contests for speakers that developed and recognized the abilities their society felt central to democracy. These exercises acquired the title "forensics," derived from the Latin term ensis and closely related to the forum.
Because the training in this skill of public advocacy, including the development of evidence, found one of its important venues in the law courts, the term "forensic" has also become associated with the art and science of legal evidence and argument. The Oregon State Forensics Team researches and trains in the earlier and more global skills of argument and public advocacy.
We continue to seek greater understanding of the history and practice of reasoned discourse as a sound basis for public involvement. We invite you to work your way through our website to see the many activities that our team members pursue in the service of improving the quality of public advocacy not just for themselves, but also for society.
The Oregon State University Forensics Team competes regionally, nationally, and internationally in individual events and international public debate. Individual events are public speaking and oral interpretation events that students prepare ahead of competitions. International public debate is an extemporaneous format, modeled on LD-style debate, where students are given a choice of five topics each round. Students prepare for debate by keeping abreast of current events and participating in practice debates before competitions. The team is coached by the Director of Forensics, Mark Porrovecchio, and his graduate assistants from the Speech Communication area of the School of Arts & Communication. The team is open to any undergraduate student in good academic standing. The primary purpose of participation in forensics is to gain skills in public speaking and argumentation. Forensics participation is one of the primary extra-curricular activities employers look for on resumes since it means an applicant possesses self-confidence, communication skills, organizational and time management skills. Why compete? It is as simple as learning to speak for yourself . . . and with others. Click here to contact the team for more information
All students in good academic standing (team requirement: a minimum of 2.5 GPA) are eligible to attend competitions. Students must achieve a minimum of 2.5 GPA for each term they are competing. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits, other than forensics credits. Participation on the team means that the Director of Forensics may access your student records to assure that you meet the stated requirements. Students must be approved by Mark to compete in events and attend tournaments. Please remember that previous success at a tournament is not the sole criterion for future tournament attendance.
For out of region tournaments, students will be chosen based on preparedness, commitment and competitiveness. In all cases, senior members of the team will be given priority over novice members of the team for out of region travel (so long as the issues above are equal). The university pays for most of your expenses except for a meal or two. You must sign up for a tournament by the stated deadline. The sign up sheet will be posted outside the forensics office at least a week in advance of the tournament. Failure to sign up will result in your inability to attend a tournament.
Signing up for a tournament is a commitment to attend a tournament. Students who sign up to attend a tournament and then back out after the deadline will pay the team for all expenses incurred including airfare, tournament registration fees, hotel fee and any other fee incurred. If a student advances to elimination rounds, that student must attend the rounds. Students that skip elimination rounds will pay their event entry fee and may forfeit their ability to attend future tournaments. All students may use preliminary rounds in which they are not competing to socialize or do homework or other legal activities.
All students are committed to watching elimination rounds of both individual events and debate regardless of whether they are competing at that point or not. The OSU insurance policy demands that students engaged in extracurricular activities for which OSU is providing support be transported in university vehicles. Consequently, you may not drive your own car, so don't even ask. As a result, all of us will travel together. Therefore, you MUST be on time. For each tournament, there will be trip information posted on the sign up. You should be there ten minutes before that time so that we can leave as scheduled. Failure to arrive on time is a no-no that only increases the stresses of tournament travel for yourself and the coaches.
You may not leave a tournament or hotel for any reason. You may not leave with friends. They can come to the tournament or hotel but you may not leave with them. The university is liable for you and your safety. The coaches are the legal representatives of the university. Consequently, coaches will establish and enforce team policies (e.g. curfews, departure times, etc.). When in doubt, final decisions will be made by Mark. If you are unsure about an issue or situation, ask him. Illegal drug use and underage drinking will not be tolerated and will result in your expulsion from the team. During regular season tournaments, drinking is not permitted at tournaments even by those who are of age. Bottom-line: this is an extra-curricular activity where you represent OSU. Act appropriately.
Individual events (called IEs) include short preparation (impromptu, extemporaneous), platform (persuasive, informative, etc.), and interpretative (duo, prose, drama, etc.) styles of speaking.
Students who are interested in the specifics related to each type of individual event should consult the American Forensics Association (AFA) National Individual Events Tournament (NIET) webpage.
Please Note: different regional and national tournaments also include non-AFA sponsored events. These can range from experimental to humorous to anything in between. Students will be made aware of the nature of these events on tournament sign up and information sheets.