A proper primer to speech and debate event at GCU
By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
The 2017 National Christian College Forensics Invitational, which Grand Canyon University is hosting Saturday through Monday, will be nothing like other competitions on campus — especially sports.
A speech and debate event does not in any way compare, for example, to GCU men’s basketball games, where the ear-shattering fan support is considered a weapon. But the two GCU teams do have something in common: Both have wasted no time earning national attention.
GCU was unanimously selected to host the speech and debate tournament, which will bring more than 250 competitors, judges, coaches and family members to campus. It’s an honor befitting a team that has cracked the list of top-20 schools for the second consecutive year.
It’s also a distinction credited to the hard work and leadership of Speech and Debate Team Director Barry Regan, a College of Humanities and Social Sciences instructor and former Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association president.
Still, the differences are considerable. While most GCU students have seen or at least gotten wind of “the biggest party in college basketball,” few if any have ever attended a speech and debate tournament.
Here’s a guide to what you need to know before attending this weekend’s event:
Nuts and bolts
Preliminary rounds in both speech and debate begin Saturday morning in buildings 1, 6, 16 and 33. Most elimination rounds will take place Monday, and winners will be announced at a Monday night banquet.
Judges typically don’t announce the winners after individual rounds in this style of tournament, Regan said.
If you decide to attend, there are certain expectations audiences are asked to meet. When it comes to what to wear and how to act, think Broadway show instead of Lopes basketball.
Rules, rules and more rules
Clapping only, please: No cheering is allowed. Clapping is OK, but only at the close of a round. During humorous or sad speeches, you may cry or laugh as appropriate as long as it doesn’t draw attention away from the speaker.
Business casual: Forget wild and crazy purple garb. Spectators are asked to attire themselves in business casual clothing.
Cell phones off: Cell phones must be turned off and put away. Use of electronics, including cell phones and computers, is not allowed.
Take a seat and stay: Refrain from entering a room in the middle of a round, and once you sit down, please stay until the end of a round. Leaving in the middle of a speech or debate is considered extremely poor manners and can ruin the integrity of an event, Regan said.
No photos, please: Want to take a picture and post it on social media? You can’t. Photos are disruptive and forbidden unless permission is received from the tournament. The event is Broadway-like in that spectators are expected to live in the moment — and to refrain from freezing time with a photograph to enjoy later, said Josh Vannoy, GCU assistant debate director.
Who’s who for GCU
Eight GCU students are signed up to compete in speech events, and 12 will argue positions in debate rounds.
Speech is broken into these categories: informative, after-dinner, persuasive and extemporaneous speech; impromptu speaking; and dramatic, prose and poetry interpretation.
GCU’s speech competitors include seniors Alaina Owen and Tatum Kaiser and sophomores Tommee Gleason, Keliannn Nash, Brian White, Amanda Ostrem, Danny Williamson and Theo Dragic.
GCU’s parliamentary debate competitors include seniors Zach Kuykendall, Thomas Rotering and Owen; juniors Taylor Alandzes, Ashley Hoftiezer and Joshua Sterkin; sophomores Jasmin Sharp and Kara Sutton; and freshmen Matthew Calderwood, Grace Laidlaw, Megan Truesdall, Joshua Sterkin and JT Winkler.
How they debate
Parliamentary debate requires students to work collaboratively in two-person teams. Because they don’t learn their topic until 20 minutes before the round, competitors must be well-informed on a range of domestic and international issues and political, social, legal and economic topics.
The teams take turns, one arguing for the government and the other for the opposition. They speak 300 words a minute on complex topics in a structured format.
But no matter how persuasive, the arguments don’t necessarily reflect the competitors’ actual opinions, Vannoy said. The teams are assigned the positions they argue.
Here’s another way speech and debate tournaments are different than sporting events: Each team is expected to provide a certain number judges, and GCU is no exception. Contact Barry.Regan@gcu.edu if you are interested and have prior tournament experience.
For more information and a calendar of the tournament, click here.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.