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New OBU Forensics and Debate Team Wins First Championship

November 8, 2016

Over the last few months, there has been talk nationwide about debates. Who said what, who won, and what effect each debate made on the viewers. And while that national conversation was couched in the midst of presidential politics, speech and debate also came to life on the Shawnee campus of OBU.

During this fall 2016 semester, the university launched the OBU forensics and debate team. The team is under the leadership of Scot Loyd, assistant professor of communication studies and director of forensics and debate. Loyd formerly coached debate at Louisiana College for four years, and has previously taught courses such as oral communication, debate, public speaking and interpersonal communication.

It didn’t take long for the team to make an impact. In fact, the team brought home its first tournament championship from the Tulsa Community College/Green County debate tournament, held Oct. 28-30. OBU competed against a field of twenty other programs from across the region including community colleges and major universities.

Sophomore Arielle Heiser was an octofinalist (top eight) in the novice division beating out East Texas Baptist University, Southeastern Oklahoma State, and Southwest Baptist. Freshman Tyler Scott was a semi-finalist in the junior varsity division with a victory over Texas Christian University, and freshman Matt Schuetz was the junior varsity tournament champion with victories over East Texas Baptist and Southwest Baptist.

Eight competitors represented OBU in the tournament in two divisions of public debate, individual speaking events and Lincoln Douglass Debate. Competing at TCC were Chase Chastain, Scott, Schuetz, Hannah Chandler, Anna Chandler, Jennifer Pensamiento-Hilton, Heiser, and Avry Wood. Meagan Hill served as judge.

“For me, the most challenging part of debate is understanding other arguments and listening in a way to understand to the satisfaction of our opponents,” Loyd said. “Only then are we qualified to respond intelligently. I think most of us grow up in environments where our ideas and world views go unchallenged and are often affirmed by every institution in our lives. Debate serves our growth because it forces us to listen to others, identify our differences and points of agreement, and articulate our viewpoint as it is supported by the evidence, or change if we find it unsubstantiated.”

Dr. Vickie Ellis, professor of communication arts and chair of the division of communication studies, and Dr. Barbe, professor of communication studies, had the vision for the team. They enlisted Loyd’s expertise and experience to make the team happen. The team currently competes in the public debate category, a more real-world experience of persuasion. In their first competition earlier in the semester, team took third place, qualifying for a regional meet in Texas.

Loyd believes passionately in the benefits forensics and debate gives to student competitors.

“Students benefit from debate because it improves their critical thinking and oratory skills immediately. Over time, students involved in debate are uniquely poised to be of greatest benefit to the institutions they choose to serve because they have done the hard work of thinking through the difficult challenges that face our society and world,” Loyd said.

The team is open to any student interested and meetings take place in OBU’s Sarkeys Telecommunication Center every Thursdays from 5-7 p.m.