School of Communication & Media

Sailfish Debate & Forensics: Debating for PBA

Frequestly Asked Questions about debating for PBA:

How well would participation in debate and forensics prepare me for graduate or law school? In both cases engagement in debate is a particularly valuable activity for those going on to graduate school. This is due to the high level of attention given in graduate education to independent research and problem-solving. Research is at the core of debate, as is the construction and defense of arguments, all of which are valuable skills to have when beginning graduate education of any kind. Public speaking, including both debate and forensics, also prepare you well both for oral arguments in law school and oral defenses of theses and dissertations in graduate school. With a background such as that provided by involvement in debate and forensics as an undergraduate, you will be better prepared for advanced education than most of your contemporaries.

Is high school debate experience required to participate in Sailfish debate and forensics? No. Although such participation may enable you to get off to a quicker start as an intercollegiate debater, others will quickly catch up if they are seriously engaged. The arguments made and the research upon which they are based, is more sophisticated at the university level, so anyone who joins this activity will have to improve his or her game to be competitive.

How much time is required to participate in PBA’s debate and forensics program? This depends on you. It depends on your abilities, motivation and level of interest. Participation in any worthwhile activity is time consuming. In addition to the weekly team meetings, debaters and speakers conduct extensive library research, create case files and argument briefs, participate in practice rounds, and travel to tournaments. The amount of time any student commits to debate will have a large impact on the assignment of a teammate and the selection of tournaments to participate in.

How many tournaments can I expect to participate in at PBA? The amount of travel is determined by the team’s annual budget and the coach’s distribution of this budget. You will not be asked to travel when you would prefer not to. Students who do travel to tournaments are those who have made the most significant contributions to the team’s needs and level of preparedness. Some teams will participate in as few as two tournaments each semester, while others may travel to five or six each semester once the program has become established. This will likely take us a couple of academic years.

What types of tournaments does PBA participate in? Since we are just getting started, part of the answer to this question will depend on the interests of the students who join the activity. There are several different types of debate formats, including Lincoln-Douglas, Parliamentary, NDT and CEDA. There will be 2-man debate and 4-man debate tournaments. There will be tournaments that emphasize individual events such as extemp, oratory, and interp and others that will include both debate and forensics. We will try to participate in those that will involve the most students so that everyone has a chance to travel and represent PBA in the intercollegiate debate and forensics world.

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