The Cornell Forensics Society has a long-standing tradition of excellence, and this year’s team is no exception. After a long year full of daily practices and weekend (sometimes week-long) competitions, the team finally closed out the year with their last events and is now reflecting on their accomplishments.
The Cornell Forensics Society, consisting of roughly 40 members, is subdivided into speech and debate teams and is an opportunity for students with all levels of skill and experience to compete in intercollegiate speech and debate tournaments across the nation, according to the team’s website.
This year alone, the students collectively attended over 40 conferences around the nation.
According to Parichay Rudina ’00, the team’s Director of Rhetoric Scholarship Laboratory, “Traveling was one of the best parts of the forensics experience. We’ve been to numerous schools all around the nation this year.”
After spending four years as a member on Cornell’s team, Rudina decided to stick around and coach for the speech side of the team.
“This year has been ridiculously fun,’ Rudina said. “A lot of our more experienced members graduated last year, so we were left with a very new, young team. They all really stepped up and brought new energy to the team. It’s been a great challenge for all of us and a wonderful learning experience.”
The changeover did not seem to affect the team’s legacy of excellent competition, though. The debate team ranked ninth in the nation in the CEDA division and eighth in the National Debate Tournament division. The speech team ranked 17th in the nation in the American Forensics Association division and seventh in the National Forensics Association in their division.
In addition, Steve Zammit ’01, who recently won first place at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament, took home first place again, this time at the National Forensics Association Individual Events Tournament. He is the fifth person ever to win both national events in the same year and the second from Cornell.
“The level of experience in our group is very diverse this year,” said Jethro Hayman, director of forensics. “We have people from all different backgrounds competing in all different levels. After a year together, both teams have grown significantly in maturity and skill and are much more seasoned.”
Students on the Cornell Forensics Society teams spend countless hours throughout the year preparing for their events.
“It really is a daily involvement,” said Tzvetana Tochkov ’03, a member of the debate team. “But I find that after the work we do with debate, classwork is actually much more enjoyable. Taking notes in lectures becomes a nice break from the intense reading, writing and quick-thinking in debate.”
With the end of yet another successful year, the team is anxious for the future.
“Speech and debate is really becoming a global phenomenon,” said Hayman. “The one thing the public fears more than death is public speaking. For this reason, we really are a secret society. Things like being able to break down the quality of an argument and the ability to think and respond quickly are such advantageous skills. These are skills you will use for the rest of your life.”