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The charter members of Lafayette College’s newly formed Forensics Society fared well in their first competition, the annual Russell D. Martin Invitational Tournament, held Feb. 5-7 at Cornell University.

Jason Paul, a first-year student from Boca Raton, Fla., competing in his first collegiate tournament, placed first in the public forum competition, a one-on-one cross-examination debate on a policy issue, in this case Title VII of the Bill of Rights. Paul won a near-unanimous decision from the members of the audience, who served as judges in the final round.

Andy Gupta, a junior from Pune, India, placed third in the public forum competition and was named best speaker among non-finalists. Geoffrey Gresh, a first-year student from Lowell, Mass., placed fourth in the best speaker category.

Paul placed ninth in the Lincoln-Douglas competition, a one-on-one cross-examination debate on regulation of the Internet, while also garnering seventh in speaker totals. He narrowly missed qualifying for the elimination round in impromptu speaking.

Gupta and Paul are the Forensics Society’s cofounders and copresidents. Bruce A. Murphy, the Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights, is director of forensics. Melissa Miller, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University and the wife of Neil A. Engelhart, assistant professor of government and law at Lafayette, coaches speakers in individual events.

“This is an excellent new initiative by Lafayette College, made even more so by the fact that it has been totally led by the students,” Murphy says. “These competitions will allow our students to use the totality of their liberal arts education in an effort not only to compete against other schools, but also to develop their communication skills.

“The effort will be even more exciting as we grow, filling all the event slots for the competitions, and thus allowing us to compete for the sweepstakes team awards against much larger schools,” Murphy continues. “The success this weekend by our highly energetic and extremely talented charter members bodes well for Lafayette’s future efforts on the forensics circuit.”

The Forensics Society will hold organizational meetings at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, and Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights room 106. No speech or debate experience is necessary.

Members plan to compete in tournaments at Simmons College and Suffolk University in Boston on Feb. 13 and 14; the Pennsylvania state championships in Philadelphia on Feb. 19 and 20; and the American Forensics Association district qualifier at George Mason University on Feb. 27 and 28. The team’s aim is to qualify for participation in the national championships at Eastern Michigan University in April.

Categorized in: Academic News