Alumni Newsletter T.O.H. Karl Forensics Forum Summer 2015

T.O.H. Karl Forensics Forum Alumni and Friends,

The 2014-2015 academic year represents a year of new beginnings and successes for the Pacific Lutheran University Debate Team. We increased debate and discourse both at PLU and in the Northwest region, completing the second annual Ruth Anderson Public Debate and reviving the T.O.H. Karl Tournament.

More than 46 Lutes participated in debate tournaments throughout the year as part of the PLU Debate Team. Director of Forensics Justin Eckstein led the program with the assistance of David Mooney, a recent PLU graduate, and Calvin Horne, a recent Northwestern University graduate, both nationally-acclaimed debaters.

PLU debate won myriad awards at regional and local tournaments, with teams frequently breaking into quarterfinal and semifinal rounds against regional leaders such as Willamette and Seattle University.

We look forward to another successful year with your support.

-T.O.H. Karl Forensics Forum Press Team

Debate Team Logo
“We are a young team, poised to return even stronger next year.” -Professor Justin Eckstein, Director of Forensics at PLU

PLU Debate: A year of competitive success

Forensics team
By Brendan Stanton

The T.O.H. Karl Forensics Forum, Pacific Lutheran University’s Debate Team, had an incredible year of competitive success. The young team’s energy showed in its outstanding performance at tournaments throughout the year. PLU Debaters beat old records, won prestigious awards and revitalized the competitive recognition of the program.

University Tournaments and Trophies

Students took home two semi-finalist trophies to start the season at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. Angie Tinker ‘16 and Brendan Stanton ‘16 beat their open-division quarterfinal finish from the previous year and first-years Megan Bowen ‘18 and Tori Sullivan ‘18 showed their strength by winning a semi-final award in the novice division.

Breaking an old record, the team took home the greatest number of world’s style debate awards at one tournament in the program’s history at Linfield College in November. Senior division debate duo Tinker and Stanton earned first place in the preliminary rounds and received a finalist award in a field of 32 teams. In the junior division, teams Hannah Bates and Matt Aust along with Caila Fautenberry and Austin Ballard received semifinalist awards in a field of 28 teams. Ballard won an award as the first place top novice speaker and Noah Gerlach placed fourth. Tinker was also recognized as the third-best speaker in the open division.

At Western Washington University’s tournament in January, the team won a coveted eagle trophy—something they have not won since 2005. The eagle trophy was a sweepstakes trophy representing the second greatest number of debate wins in the region. The Lutes defeated top schools in the region including Linfield, Willamette and Seattle University. The team also took home two speaker awards, one finalist and one semifinalist award from the tournament.

The T.O.H. Karl Forensics Forum continued their strong performance at Portland State University where they won three team finalist awards and three individual top speaker awards. Stanton and Max Bartholomew ‘17 were semifinalists in the open division. Ballard and Gerlach held a spot as the fourth seed after preliminary rounds and made it to the quarterfinals in the open division. Bowen and Sullivan competed for the top spot in the final round of the novice division.

Regional and National Championships

At Willamette University in February, Tinker and Stanton were reunited as partners to take the fourth top seed of 48 total teams after six preliminary rounds. The pair won their quarterfinal round and advanced to the semi-finals where they received a split decision ultimately preventing them from debating in the final round. Ballard and Gerlach made it to the quarterfinals.

Tinker and Stanton represented PLU at the Western Regional Championship in San Luis Obispo, Calif. where they competed against some of the best teams in the nation. Tinker and Stanton tied for sixteenth top individual speaker in a field of over one hundred elite debaters.

The team ended the season joining 57 universities and 336 other debaters in three days of competition at the United States Universities Debating Championship at University of Alaska Anchorage. Although no Lutes participated in elimination rounds, they had a strong showing in the eight preliminary rounds, defeating teams including Stanford, Cornell and UCLA.

Looking Forward to the Future

The future is an exciting prospect for the debaters and those competing at nationals expect to return next year.

“We have a solid leadership base and we are ready to continue our winning performance,” Matt Aust ‘17 said.

Director of Forensics Justin Eckstein echoed Aust’s sentiment: “We are a young team, poised to return even stronger next year.”

Tinker takes top honors

By Brendan Stanton

angie-newPLU debater Angie Tinker ‘16 won the “top paper” award for her paper “Switchside Gender: Taboo Identity in the Debate Space” at the Western States Communication Association conference in Spokane, Wash. on February 21, 2015. Tinker’s paper stood out from the competition, surpassing 37 other manuscripts to win top honors.

The paper focused on the transgender experience at Willamette University’s women’s debate tournament in 2014.

“I’m hoping for reform that allows students to keep identity anonymous in debate, while keeping a safe space for women,” Tinker said.

Tinker concluded that too much focus is on debaters and not enough focus is on their arguments. She suggests that a good start to reform the tournament in the future would be to allow debaters to fill out critiques of their judges to ensure some level of accountability.

“I am extremely proud of the sort of research she is producing,” adviser Justin Eckstein said. “It will certainly inspire many conversations about the relationship between debate and gender.”

Vegetarianism wins vote at Ruth Anderson Public Debate

The team of Brendan Stanton and Prof Michail Schleeter, seated on the right, make their opening statements in the Ruth Anderson Public Debate in Xavier Hall hosted by Forensics PLU on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. (PLU Photo/John Froschauer)
By Toriana Vigil

Tensions were high during the second annual Ruth Anderson Public Debate in of October 2014  as debaters addressed the proposition “This House would not Eat Anything with a Face.”

Professor Karen Emmerman and debater Angela Tinker ’16 argued in favor of the proposition, while professor Michael Schleeter and debater Brendan Stanton ’16 opposed the proposition.

In a campaign to increase public discourse, the team hoped to add to public discourse around food politics, which has become increasingly present in society with the release of popular documentaries such as Forks over Knives and growing concerns regarding food sourcing.

The room was packed, standing room only and more than 100 people in attendance including community members and students and staff from Pacific Lutheran University and University of Puget Sound.

Dr. Emmerman and Ms. Tinker, presented a multifaceted moral and environmental argument. The team personified animals, asserting they knew the animals didn’t want humans to eat them.

Dr. Schleeter and Mr. Stanton countered with a health-based argument. They argued that meat is a necessary foundation for wholesome human survival, presenting statistics from more than 14 sources.

An audience vote decided the best arguments arose from Emmerman and Tinker’s support for vegetarianism.

The final vote indicated a proposition win, but Twitter user and social media expert Nick Brody from the University of Puget Sound seems to succinctly iterate the crowds’ newfound opinion, “And the answer is… it’s complicated.”

TOH Karl and Ruth Anderson Public Debate committee is in the process of choosing a topic for the third annual Ruth Anderson Public Debate to be held in Fall 2015.

Tremendous success for the T.O.H. Karl Tournament

By Brendan Stanton

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Ballots coming in for round three of the tournament.

Forensics students flocked to PLU on December 5 and 6, 2014, for the TOH Karl Speech and Debate Tournament. Pacific Lutheran University hosted 38 schools and more than 700 high school students from the Pacific Northwest for the return of the Tournament. Students from the United States and Canada were able to  improve vital public speaking, critical thinking, research and analytical skills.

After a hiatus, the 2014 revival of the T.O.H. Karl tournament marked the team’s commitment to encouraging young students to pursue debate at a college level.

The tournament was a prestigious Tournament of Champions qualifier, giving top competitors points toward eligibility for the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions in 2015.

High school students competed in student congress and public forum, policy, and Lincoln-Douglas debate. With more than 300 individual events and almost 200 debate student entries, individual events included expository, extemporaneous and impromptu speaking.

For many students, the tournament was an introduction to the PLU Speech and Debate program as well as the Pacific Lutheran University campus and community. More than 100 PLU students, staff, faculty, and community members volunteered to judge the events.

Visiting schools were impressed with PLU’s hospitality in running the tournament. Local high school coach Bill Nicolay said the tournament ran smoothly and provided a great experience to his students.

“I am so incredibly grateful for the support,” said Justin Eckstein, director of forensics at Pacific Lutheran University. “It demonstrates PLU’s commitment to the forensics community.”

PLU will host the tournament again in late October 2015.

Lincoln scholar David Zarefsky visits PLU

Dr. David Zarefsky speaking of the Lincoln, Douglas debates in the Studio Theater of the Karen Hille Phillips Center at PLU on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)
By Kaitlyn Hall

Seven score and 17 years ago, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas spent nearly 21 hours in seven debates. The proposition was slavery, the stage was Illinois, and the voting population was their panel of judges.

Lincoln scholar David Zarefsky explained the relevance and historical significance of the debates in “Lincoln, Douglas and Slavery” on May 14 in the final event of the 2015 School of Arts and Communication Focus Series on perspective.

The event explored the capacity to master multiple perspectives, a central tenet of forensics closely related to Pacific Lutheran University integrative learning objectives.

By selecting Zarefsky, a scholar of debate and renowned expert on Lincoln, the T.O.H. Karl Forensics Forum was able to achieve the goal it aims fulfill to through practices and tournaments—training debaters and developing well-rounded scholars.

Zarefsky, professor emeritus of communication at Northwestern University, spoke to more than 50 students, faculty and community members, describing the debates in detail before spending 20 minutes answering questions.

Zarefsky’s lecture examined more than history, conspiracy theories and argumentation: He spoke of Lincoln’s improvements throughout the debates, reminding debaters, students and faculty of the importance of practice and dedication.