What exactly IS Forensics?

For those who watch a lot of crime drama on TV you might have looked at this page thinking we were a collegiate CSI team – if that’s you – you are wrong (that is forensic science – they shorten it to forensics). Forensics is the oldest academic study still in use today. Aristotle coined the term over 2 millennium ago as a type of judicial or legal type of speaking. As forensic competitors we examine the politics and policies that face our world today through a variety of public speaking events: parliamentary debate; limited prep events; platform speeches as well as interpretive events. For more information on what these events are see link to description of events.

What do we do?

VU Forensics competes in local and national tournaments in a variety of events. To be on the travel team you must be competitive in at least 3 events, be a team member in good standing as well as uphold high academic status.

While members of this team are highly competitive, competition is not the only purpose of competitive speaking. We find that competitive speaking, through any event, builds academic and social success through enhancing important communication and critical thinking skills. In fact, several of our competitors have said that preparation for competitive speaking has made them better scholars by teaching them organization, time management and critical thinking.

It is important to note that the VU team is not “all work and no play.” The VU team has put people at its core allowing for wonderful life-long friendships to be built. Additionally, we spend between 8 and 10 weekends away from campus each year allowing us to make friendships with students at other collegiate campuses (both secular and religious).

Why do we do it?

Members of this team compete because it’s fun, because you’ll meet people, because it will make you a more critical thinker, a better speaker, and for most competitors on this team a better student. Not to mention that what you learn as a forensic competitor will benefit you in the long run. If you are interested in what famous people have competed in forensics check out the link “famous forensicators”. If that’s not enough reason to join, consider this: In a recent survey of Who’s Who, forensics was chosen as the single most valuable class the people surveyed had taken in school. Additionally, the number one skill that employers want is the ability to communicate well – how better to dress your future resume than with competitive speaking?

You’re convinced and you want to know how to join.

There are two ways to be involved with the VU Forensics Team.

First, you can participate at the club level. You don’t need any prior forensics experience to be a member. Nor do we expect this level to take over your life. If you want to “dabble” in forensics you will be required to compete at two local tournaments in just a single prepared event.

The most dedicated, however, are the travel competitors. They attend at least seven regular season tournaments and various national tournaments (NCCFI and either the AFA-NIET or NPDA Debate Championships). There are several additional requirements for the travel team. First, they are expected to make individual coaching appointments above the required team meetings; second, they are required to do substantial research; third, they are required to be competitive in a minimum of three separate events; and finally, travel competitors are required to hold a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 or above. In exchange for the increased demands for travel competitors, they often receive a substantial scholarship as an additional perk.

Aditionally, both club and travel competitors can take introduction to argumentation and debate or advanced argumentation and debate.

So, what if you’ve never done forensics?

Excellent! No experience is needed to join. We offer a debate camp the week before classes begin to teach the basics (and some advanced teaching as well) of debate. Instruction on all individual events will come as the year unfolds. All that’s required is a desire to be a better speaker and the commitment to actually become a better speaker. If you are willing to work, your coaching staff is willing to help you accomplish your competitive goals. For club members, any tournament you attend will have a novice (no experience/first year) division for you to compete in. As you begin to compete and improve, you will move into more advanced competition.

A good introductory text (the one we use) is: Burden of Proof: An Introduction to Argumentation and Debate (3rd ed) by Mark R. Crossman.

You’re interested but want to know how much it costs.

Other than having professional attire (suits, dress shoes); some school supplies you already own (a couple of pens, a highlighter, sticky notes and some paper); and your valuable time, the only expense to you is a timer (about $10 at Target) and a debate text book. Vanguard has provided us with a budget that covers travel and other expenses. In fact, it might be worth your time to join because if you look at the next section (Scholarships) the team might actually help you PAY for your education!

Are scholarships available?

Yes! If you have a good work ethic and maintain eligibility for the travel team we offer a nice scholarship package. For more information contact Karen Nishie directly at knishie@vanguard.edu.

New and transfer students with competitive forensics experience are also eligible for awards. These awards are conditional and require meeting in person with the Director of Forensics within a week of joining the team.

If you have questions not answered here, contact:

Karen Nishie, Director of Forensics
Communication Dept., Vanguard University

55 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: 714.556-3610, extension 2907