Our program includes experiential learning opportunities, which enable you to learn more about how communication works in the real world.

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Intercollegiate Speech & Debate

What is Intercollegiate Speech & Debate?

Intercollegiate Speech & Debate is an activity intended to help you improve your public communication skills through competition in intercollegiate speech tournaments or through the presentation of speeches in public settings. With the help of coaches you will create and revise presentations so you can successfully participate and improve. Most members of the Intercollegiate Speech & Debate team travel to other schools to compete in three types of events: public speaking events, oral interpretation events, and debate. The public speaking events include Informative Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, After Dinner Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Communication Analysis. The oral interpretation events include Prose Interpretation, Poetry Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Dramatic Duo Interpretation, and Thematic Oral Interpretation. Debate includes Parliamentary team debate.Those who choose the public performance option prepare the same public speaking or oral interpretation events, but they don't travel to tournaments or compete. Instead, they perform at events they set up themselves--either on campus or in the community. Most students who have been in Intercollegiate Speech & Debate also think it is a lot of fun. The team members help each other prepare their events, travel together, meet new people, and generally enjoy the activity and the socialization associated with it at the same time that they learn.

Do I have to do all those events?

No, you don't. The minimum requirements are that you do either one prepared public speaking event plus one other event (public speaking or oral interpretation) or debate. You choose which events you'll do and you're welcome to go beyond the minimum requirements if you want. To attend any tournament you must have at least two events prepared or debate.

Can I pick my topics?

Certainly. You'll talk with coaches about your ideas for speeches or oral interpretations so you don't pick something that has no chance of success, but you still get to choose your own topics. You'll also do your own research, write your own speeches, and write your own introductions for oral interpretation.The exception to picking your own topics is in debate, because our debaters use the same general topic all the other debaters at the tournaments use. However, you still have a great deal of choice in how you approach the topic.

What if I've never done competitive speech before?

You're still welcome to join our team! No experience is required to be a member of the HSU team. Our purpose is to help you learn how to become a better communicator regardless of the level at which you begin. The tournaments at which we compete usually have three levels of competition: Novice, for people who are just starting out; Junior, for those with less than two years of intercollegiate experience; and Open, for those with more than two years of experience--or less if they're ready for the challenge. So you can always compete against people with your same level of experience.

What if I'm not very good?

The HSU program is not based solely on competitive success (although that is one goal), so your skill level is not as important as your willingness to do your best and work to improve. The coaching staff is here to help you develop your events for competition or public performance and to help you practice to become better. Naturally, everyone feels better when they win in competition, but you don't need to guarantee you'll win in order to become involved. If you do what you can to personally excel, that's all we can ask of you. Most people discover they're better than they thought.

What if I am pretty good?

There are opportunities to qualify for national championship competitions where you could compete against some of the best collegiate speakers and debaters from throughout the country. Getting to nationals is a difficult task, and anyone who qualifies should know they've accomplished something special.

How much time does it take?

Like any other intercollegiate team, you need to put time into preparing for competition. The Intercollegiate Speech & Debate team currently meets as a group Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30-6:30. Other coaching sessions are arranged at a another time you have available. Between coaching sessions you work on your events, doing research, writing the speeches, and practicing them. The total amount of time you spend will depend on how many events you do, and how well you want to do at the tournaments.The number of tournaments we have each semester is determined by the size of the budget and the size of the team. Recently we have had between three and seven tournaments in a semester. Depending on the tournament schedule and the tournament location we usually leave either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and return either late Sunday night or Monday afternoon.

Do I have to go to all the tournaments?

No. The minimum requirement (to get a grade of "C") for everyone who is enrolled for two units is to go to two tournaments and compete in either two events or debate. Those enrolled for one unit are required to attend one tournament or present four public performances. Of course, if you want to go beyond those minimum requirement you can.

How much does it cost?

Intercollegiate Speech & Debate is partly supported by the Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) budget and many of the expenses are covered by that budget. The Intercollegiate Speech & Debate budget generally pays for transportation to tournaments, entry fees, lodging, and some meals. You would pay for incidental expenses, such as materials for your speeches and food in excess of the meal allowance. The budget is very limited, though, and to insure everyone has opportunities to travel we have to do what we can to conserve money and augment the IRA funds.

Do I have to be a Communication Major?

Not at all. In fact, the majority of our team members are majors from other departments such as Forestry, Engineering, Political Science, English, Journalism, Business and Philosophy. They recognize the importance of good communication and want to improve their skills as well as challenge themselves in a supportive and enjoyable environment.

Where did you get the name "Forensics"?

We hear that question often. Early intercollegiate speech competition was debate, and it was modeled after legal argumentation. Since "forensic speaking" was the name given to legal speeches in ancient Greece, the name was used to identify the activity. Later public speaking and oral interpretation events were added, but the name remained. (Medical examiners are often referred to as "Forensic Pathologists" because they practice medicine to render expert testimony in legal proceedings. We don't cut up cadavers.)

How can I get involved in HSU Intercollegiate Speech & Debate?

To be in Intercollegiate Speech & Debate at HSU you must enroll in Communication 110: Intercollegiate Speech & Debate. If you want to take the public performance option you should enroll for 1 unit, if you want to do competitive individual events you should enroll for 2 units, and if you want to debate you should enroll for 3 units. You should also be sure to talk to Aaron Donaldson, the Director of Forensics, in House 54 Room 3 (826-5433) so you can get some specific information about what's happening next semester.