No debate: forensic team back

by Beacon Staff • December 6, 2006

In this case, "forensic" refers to a point that can be proven scientifically or legally. The team is a group of students practicing the art of oratory and debate in inter-collegiate competitions.,At first it might sound like CSI: Boston, but Emerson's forensic team won't be solving crimes any time soon.

In this case, "forensic" refers to a point that can be proven scientifically or legally. The team is a group of students practicing the art of oratory and debate in inter-collegiate competitions.

The team is comprised of about 12 students, all learning how to master their rhetorical style while applying a unique Emersonian twist.

Over the past 10 years, the existence of the team has been on and off, but this year, it made a strong comeback thanks to Heather Erickson, an organizational and political communication lecturer at Emerson and director and coach for the team.

"I always found it odd that at Emerson, being a communications school, there was no team," said Erickson. "Many people who have been coaching at other schools say it is so great to see Emerson back in competition."

Erickson, who has been involved in debate for 15 years, brought the idea to the organizational and political communication department. Erickson said the department was excited to hear about the revival of the team. A budget was drafted and brought to the department, where funds for the team were approved.

Erickson said it took nine months to organize the group.

While the team is sponsored mainly by the OP department, it was recently recognized by the SGA as an on-campus organization group. This will allow the SGA to become involved with the team and help in fundraising.

Meg Larkin, a junior political communication major and the president of the forensic team, said Erickson has been a great help.

"It is amazing to have her guiding us in the right direction," Larkin said. "We are a solid core group."

The forensic team's competitions test three types of speech: debate and two styles of public speaking.

The first is public address; these presentations are usually informative or persuasive speeches.

The second is interpretive events, which are usually interpretive speeches, prose poetry or drama. Competitions are held at local universities and colleges and judged by experts in public speaking. The judges can range from professors of public speaking to team coaches.

"The great thing about forensics is that there is an event for each student to utilize their talents," Erickson said.

The team has competed in two matches since its rebirth this semester, at Suffolk University and St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The group won second as a team in its October Suffolk match. In November's St. Anselm competition, the team faced students from 30 different schools. While the team did not place due to its limited number of competitors, some of the members made a name for themselves individually.

Jessa Brezinski, a freshman writing, literature and publishing major and forensic team vice president, earned first place in prose out of 40 other competitors. Larkin took seventh in debate out of 75 contenders.

While the group of nearly a dozen students participates in the forensic team, only about five compete when the team travels.

"We have a great team work ethic," said Larkin. "We practice as a team and help people as much as we can."

Larkin, who joined the group earlier this year, has been working with debate teams since middle school. This was her first year competing in forensic events, however, and she said she's found the experience exciting.

Although the revamped team is fresh to the Emerson campus, the members have large goals they want to fulfill before the year ends. One of the major hopes for the team is to travel to Georgia to compete in a national match in April.

"I would love to be a presence at nationals and have people remember us as a strong school," Erickson said. "I would also love for our reputation to be reestablished on a national level."

One of the major goals the team holds is consistency throughout the year, according to Katie Koller, a member of the team and a junior music and marketing communication double major.

"We are small but strong," Koller said. "It makes me wish to be here longer. We are back into gear now and I only have three semesters left."