The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Debate team has SF victory

CSUN’s speech and debate team came back from UC Berkeley with their first victory of the fall semester.

Brandi Lawless, president of the speech and debate team, placed second in the open individual events section called “after dinner speaking,” a section that consists of informative, yet humorous speeches, said Courtney Gruttemeyer, the individual events coach for the speech and debate team.

This past year, Lawless was also the first CSUN student to qualify in the national individual tournament, called the American Forensics Association National tournament, said Rachel Levitt, assistant speech and debate coach.

The Sept. 23-25 tournament paved the way for Lawless to qualify once again in the national individual events tournament, Gruttemeyer said.

In addition, the two pairs of debate competitors in junior varsity and varsity started off the season in a new division, said Allison Brownlow, assistant debate coach.

Both pairs won two out of six debates. They beat San Francisco State in both divisions. The varsity also won against Arizona State University, and the JV placed first against Idaho State.

“This competition gave us the experience and knowledge we need to continue on a trajectory of success,” said Sylvia Symonds, new head coach of the team. “It’s a great way to start the year.”

The group of about 12 active members spends 15 to 20 hours a week doing research and preparing for their speeches and debates.

“We’re successful because students really pour their heart and soul into this,” Levitt said.

Their success is credited to a team comprised of “highly skilled students,” who want to do great things for themselves, contribute to the climate of academic excellence on campus, and give back to the local community, she added.

An understanding of the world is infused because of the extensive research and level of dedication put into obtaining accurate and pertinent information for the speeches and debates, Levitt said.

“It’s a great experience because it gives you the kind of research and practice necessary to thrive in the academy or higher education,” she said. “It teaches you to become a more critical and engaged student.”

There are two separate entities of the team – debate and individual events.

The debate portion consists of two-person teams in three divisions: novice, JV and varsity. The annual debate topic this year revolves around the U.S. Supreme Court in regards to four rulings.

The second aspect, known as the individual events, focuses on the performance and delivery of a speech in a more theatrical and public speaking environment. These are typically nine- to 10-minute platform speeches ranging from impromptu and persuasive to informative and interpretative.

“As a team, we all get along and support and encourage each other,” Gruttemeyer said. “The goal is that each student be able to reach (his or her) full potential. The ultimate goal is to go to national competitions.

“We see ourselves as one part of a system out to reach a common goal, the nationals,” she said.

The team meets every Tuesday from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. in a one-unit course entitled Communications 195: Forensics, which is taught by the head coach and all four assistant coaches. The members additionally devote two weekends a months to practice, research, coaching and competing.

“We need more members, and we are constantly recruiting,” Levitt said.

However, they prefer people to be in the class, Symonds said.

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