The following policies were created with you in mind. We want the speech and debate program at Vanguard to thrive, and irresponsible student behavior has in the past caused serious damage to forensic programs including the mid-year cancellation of other college programs. The damage one student can do may be irreversible to the program and to your coaches. Thank you for always keeping this in mind.

Team Captain

The team captain is a returning student that the coach/director has observed and has found to be exceptional in academics, attitude, interpersonal relations and competitive ability. Team captain may also function as a liaison, carrying student grievances to the coach(es), and may serve as a mediator between squad members who are having problems. In some cases, the captain will assist the Director in determining whether events are ready to be performed at tournaments as well as work as “peer” coach in parliamentary debate and limited prep events. The captain works closely with the Director in issues of budgeting, and administration of team in helping schedule tournaments, additional practices, special meetings, and the purchase of team shirts. The captain will collect the sweepstakes trophies at the local tournaments. If, no one student is deemed team captain or the team captain fails to complete their duties, then co-captains consisting of extemp captain and IE captain will act as co-captains.

Extemp Captain

Generally, the extemp captain is a returning student that the coach has observed and believes has appropriate skills necessary to keep the extemp tubs in order. This person (or persons – occasionally there may be co-captains) is in charge of delegating extemp assignments on a weekly or bi-weekly basis as they deem necessary, ensuring that filing is done, and reporting to coach/director any problems that occur within the extemp event that needs coach/director intervention. On issues of extemp filing the captain(s) speak on the authority of the coach – do not “blow them off” this will require that the coach/director become involved – and that will end poorly for those not doing their jobs. In the event that the team captain is incapacitated the IE captain and Extemp captain will work in concert to take over Team Captain responsibilities.

IE Captain

This person is a returning student the coach/director has observed and has found to be exceptional in academics, attitude, interpersonal relations and competition (specifically in individual events). This person works closely with the coach/director and in some cases, the IE captain will assist the coach(es) in determining whether events are ready to be performed at tournaments as well as work as “peer” coach in prepared (platform and interp) events. In the event that the team captain is incapacitated the IE captain and Extemp captain will work in concert to take over Team Captain responsibilities.

Team Etiquette

Whether on the road, or at VU, we ask that you respect the privacy and property of others. Because of limited space, the office of the Director is also where individual practices and extemp preparation takes place. It is imperative that you respect the privacy and personal property in the Director’s office. Do not use the phone (except for team business) and do not look at/through papers etc on desk or credenza. Always leave the office free of clutter – throw your trash (especially food trash) away in a trash receptacle outside of the office. If other professors are in their offices please respect their need for privacy and quiet. In order to gain entrance to the Director’s office you must be accompanied by either the Director, or the team, extemp or IE captain.

Furthermore, it is expected that you respect and apply the Golden Rule to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. By this I mean, we will talk to each other as well as other competitors, coaches and judges with respect. We will not denigrate another person, team, tournament or event. If you feel slighted or offended by a person or piece, speak to the Director in a private location.


Forensics is not a normal one-unit class. You are required to practice much more than the 2 hours set in the University catalogue. While our team practice is scheduled from 1-3 on Fridays it is expected that debate competitors arrive at 12:30 for a brief lecture/discussion about debate or current affairs. We begin the first round of practice at 1 p.m. if you are late you will not be able to practice. The team meeting occurs at 2:30 where the entire team is expected to be in attendance for announcements etc. At 3 p.m. we do one hour of individual events practice and then do a 2nd round of debate at 4 p.m. Yes, it is a lot of work in a very short amount of time. And, yes, you will be required to attend EVERY Friday practice as well as make and keep individual appointments during the week with Director or coach. Because debate is not an individual event, people are depending on you to be at practice regularly. If you cannot make a practice it is vital that you call a coach and leave a message. Furthermore, do not make it a practice to miss practice.

A schedule of tournaments will be e-mailed to you at the beginning of each semester, additional reminders will be e-mailed to you at least a week before each tournament. It is your responsibility to e-mail the director no later than 5 p.m. Monday the week of a tournament telling the director whether or not you are attending the upcoming tournament as well as which events you plan to compete in. If the tournament is a travel tournament you must submit your desire to attend as well as be competitive in a minimum of three events two weeks prior to the tournament (keep checking that schedule) so that travel and hotel accommodations may be made. Additionally you must have met with the director (or other coach) at least once before each tournament to display your readiness to compete. What this means is you must let the director know as soon as possible which tournaments you want to attend, and then the Monday before each tournament, confirm your ability to attend. If you find that you are unable to attend a tournament – let the director know ASAP so that alternative arrangements may be made. Furthermore, if you accept an invitation to a competition and are late (and left behind) or don’t show at all there are severe consequences including monetary reimbursement of fees and nuisance fees, as well as the potential to be removed from the team. There are two acceptable reasons to not show – death or a doctor’s note; unacceptable reasons to not show – anything other than those listed as acceptable reasons.

Phone List

About the second month of the semester, we will pass out a phone list. The purpose of the phone list is to make it easier for team members to communicate with each other about tournament information, debate, etc. In the past, however, phone calls to coaches have been excessive. Never call a coach after 9:00 p.m.

Tournament Dress

Virtually every study done on appearance indicates that it affects credibility. In fact, a study done specifically on forensic competition found that 85% of judges state that competitor appearance affects perception of credibility and 90% of respondents say that poor dress has a negative affect on rating/ranking (Anway Jones, 1987). You may see people at tournaments that look as if they are going bowling or to a rave; this will be rare, but it happens (not on our team). A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you were going on a job interview. Jeans, t-shirts, flip flops, tennis shoes, strapless tops or sloppy dress is not acceptable (neither is underwear poking out from attire). A suit, tie and dress shoes is appropriate for both men and women, a sports coat, shirt and tie, dress slacks and dress shoes are appropriate for men; a skirt, dress pants, blazer and pumps is acceptable for women. Conservative accessories are appropriate for both men and women: if your tongue, eyebrow, lip, cheek or any other visible part of your body other than ears (and no more than 2 there) are pierced, you will need to remove those pieces of jewelry prior to competition. If you show up for a tournament in inappropriate attire, you will be counted as a no show and assume all the consequences thereof. If you have questions about tournament dress ask the Director or one of your team captains – trust us – we know. After one or two tournaments you’ll feel more comfortable deciding what to wear.

Furthermore, the practice of good hygiene – shower; clean, styled hair; brushed teeth; deodorant; as well as clean, pressed clothes – is necessary. One coach told the story of judging in a very small room with a competitor with such strong body odor that she could barely breathe much less concentrate. This is bad –don’t be the stinky one in the room. The director requests that perfumes and colognes be kept to a minimum because of allergies.

Travel Tournaments

When we attend an overnight tournament there is a curfew of 11:00 p.m. Mind and body need to be rested and sharp for competition, and it is our opinion that lack of sleep directly affects your performance. Furthermore, you are on forensics time and money so outings etc. are limited to those approved by director. You will likely be sharing a room with several teammates, so please respect their right to get their rest. Vanguard does not pay for room service, telephone calls, etc. or other incidentals so remember to bring some cash for these if you intend to use them.


The Vanguard forensics team will pay all fees associated with travel to and participation in tournaments. At all overnight tournaments (and most local tournaments) your food is also covered. You will need money for incidental (snacks/drinks) and personal items. If you arrange to go to a tournament and fail to show up you are required to pay back any fees associated to your entry to the tournament.


For members in good standing, scholarship money is available. Forensic scholarships are based on performance, potential and work ethic. To receive a scholarship requires a meeting with the Director. Scholarships are both confidential and conditional: discussing a scholarship with another student, failure to perform, breaking University rules and/or team rules, or insubordination may result in the loss of scholarship and removal from the team.


A no-show means, that for whatever reason, you failed to go to either a confirmed tournament or while at a tournament you failed to attend one (or more) of your scheduled rounds. A no-show to a tournament requires the reimbursement of any fees, judging fees, nuisance fees, or hotel accommodations that had been provided for you. No shows at tournaments tell the judge that you don’t care. It is likely he or she will remember your code and feel negative towards VU competitors in general. In other words, a no-show affects the entire team and your coaches strongly frown on this behavior. If you have any physical problem, find your coach immediately and discuss it. A no-show at any tournament may jeopardize your standing on the team. Call us as soon as you know that you are going to miss a tournament.


If you leave for a tournament from Vanguard, VU insurance requires that you have completed a driver safety course and have supplied proof of an acceptable driving record. Driving to and from a tournament does not allow you the freedom to leave said tournament without permission from the Director. Often times the team will rent vehicles for travel tournaments, but for local tournaments members will need to drive their own vehicles subject to approval by the Director and University (see above) and will be reimbursed for the cost of gas (to and from tournament) upon submission of receipt. The state of California and the University require that you wear a seatbelt and follow all other driving law when traveling to and from a Vanguard University sponsored event.


Individual attitude affects the entire team. It is essential that you get along with the coaches and your teammates. If you are a team player, if you work hard, if you act like an adult, and if you respect authority, you will probably be fine. Insubordinate behavior however, is grounds for dismissal. Attitude carries over to tournaments, you will follow the “golden rule” (see above) at tournaments. True story, a woman was talking (negatively) about another competitor while in the bathroom only to come out of the stall and come face-to-face with that competitor. Don’t let that happen to you. While we are all human and subject to being tired, cranky and irritated, tournaments and other public venues are not appropriate places to vent.

Drugs & Alcohol

The use of drugs and alcohol while on contract with Vanguard University is subject to disciplinary action subject to the University Handbook. Coaching staff has no tolerance for abusing the statutes of the handbook. Using illegal drugs will result in immediate dismissal from the team (and very likely the University).

(policies stated here are adapted from team policy manual of El Camino College/Francesca Bishop)