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For the second consecutive year, the Forensics Society earned second place at the Pennsylvania Forensics Association’s annual tournament, held Feb. 20-21 at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa.

Trustee Scholarship recipient Erik Heins ’05 (Center Moriches, N.Y.), a double major in philosophy and government & law, was ranked as the sixth-place speaker in the state after taking second place in both extemporaneous and informative speech and fifth place in impromptu speech, and making the semifinals of Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Jennifer Rusak ’04 (Ashley, Pa.), a double major in psychology and philosophy, finished second in persuasion, qualifying as one of Pennsylvania’s two competitors in the Interstate Oratorical Association’s annual tournament, the oldest oratorical contest in the United States.The organization has sponsored an annual contest for two contestants from each state since 1872.

“This is a huge honor in the forensics community,” says Scott Placke, Lafayette’s director of forensics and, as executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Forensic Association, the organizer and administrator of the PFA tournament.

Rusak also finished second in both debate and rhetorical criticism and third in informative speech.

“The performance of the team this weekend was impressive and made me proud to be a member,” she says. “As this was my last state competition, it was great to be surrounded by such talented teammates and coaches. Everyone contributed to making this tournament a great one for Lafayette.”

Other Lafayette students placing in events were government and law major Joe Borland ’06 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.), first in impromptu speech; government and law major Paul Kritzler ’05 (Monkton, Md.), debate semifinalist; Marquis Scholar Christian Dato ’07 (Poway, Calif.), fourth in prose reading; Marquis Scholar Kim Moore ’06 (Longwood, Fla.), fifth in informative speech; and Bill O’Brien ’07 (Elmont, N.Y.), sixth in persuasion. Also competing was government and law major and Marquis Scholar Colby Block ’06 (Boca Raton, Fla.).

“It was this time last year that I first began my foray into the world of speech and debate, having little idea of what to expect,” says O’Brien. “A year later, I am able to compete in a very competitive tournament and even make a final round. This is all due to the incredible effort of Scott’s coaching and my teammates’ assistance. I am very pleased that at such an important tournament, I was able to compete as well as I did.”

Heins’ final round extemporaneous question was “Will Dick Cheney be on the ballot in 2004?” In extemporaneous speech, contestants select one of three topics on current national and international issues or events and have 30 minutes to prepare a speech of five to seven minutes on it.

The final-round impromptu speech quote for Heins and Borland was “The puppet master makes us dance and bray.While we are dancing, we have to wonder who is really pulling the strings,” by Salmon Rushdie. Impromptu speech contestants receive short excerpts dealing with general interest topics or political, economic, or social issues. They have seven minutes to divide between preparation and speaking, but must speak for at least three minutes.

The 2003-04 debate topic focuses on whether the federal government should place regulations on industrial pollution. Lincoln-Douglas is a persuasive policy debate on traditional stock issues. Competitors are evaluated on their analysis, use of evidence, and ability to effectively and persuasively organize, deliver, and refute arguments.

Accompanying the students were Placke, debate coach Jon Honiball, administrative assistant Carmela Karns, and student coach Michael Lestingi ’04 (Centerville, Ohio), a Marquis Scholar who is pursuing a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a bachelor of arts with majors in International Studies and Russian & East European Studies.

“I was very proud of our team over the weekend,” says Moore. “We went in not knowing exactly how we would do, and we all did very well. I am especially happy for Jen, who is the first person from our school to qualify for the interstate oratory contest.”

“I was very happy to see the state tournament grow,” says Borland. “If we want to compete with dominant areas of the country, we need a strong Pennsylvania.”

“There was a definite sense of commonality between the schools this past weekend,” says Dato. “Competition seemed to be limited to the rounds. This tournament is ample proof that forensics is not an activity, but a community.”

The team will travel to Nassau Community College in Long Island, N.Y., this weekend for its next competition.

Members of Forensics Society are active in other areas of campus life as well.

Lestingi is president of the College’s branch of the Pi Kappa Delta national forensics honor society, Forensics Society, Lafayette Communications Union, and QuEST (Questioning Established Sexual Taboos). A volunteer translator for Covenant House Nursing Home, Lestingi also is secretary of International Affairs Club, treasurer of Association for Lafayette Women, executive board member of Lafayette Intercultural Networking Council, and a member of Dobro Slovo, the national honor society for students of the Russian language or culture, and American Society of Mechanical Engineering.

Block, who serves as secretary of Forensics Society, is working with the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office to create a Youth Court Program. She is former public relations chair for Student Government and current adviser for Freshman Class Council, to which she belonged as a first-year student. She is in her second year as a member of the Dance Team and participates in College Theater, playing the role of Johnny in last year’s production of The Club. She is also a member of the Marquis Players, a student group that produces an annual musical to benefit charity, and is choreographer for this year’s production, Sugar. She also is a supervisor for Recreational Services, a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, and a resident adviser in South College.

Kritzler is president of History Club, Games Club, and Haven, a student group stressing an alcohol- and drug-free lifestyle, as well as a member of Lafayette Communications Union and various intramural sports teams.

O’Brien is the Residence Hall Council representative for McKeen Hall, a member of The Lafayette (school newspaper) staff, Marquis Players, History Club, and Arts Society, and a DJ on campus radio station WJRH.

Dato is vice president of College Democrats and a member of Lafayette Christian Fellowship, History Club, and Haven. He also is a Civil War re-enactor.

Rusak is president for Alternative Spring Break Club and the student chapter of Psi Chi, the national honorary society for psychology, and is a member of Lafayette Communications Union and Lafayette Intercultural Networking Council.

Moore is president of the Dry Surfers, a special-interest living group whose members share interests in technology and a substance-free lifestyle, and a member of College Democrats and Psychology Club. She also plays violin in the orchestra.

Heins is a member of the varsity fencing team, Haven, and Games Club.

Past forensics competitions:
Feb. 14-15, Suffolk University
Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Cornell University
January interim session tournaments
Dec. 6-7, University of Rhode Island
Nov. 15-16, New York University

Nov. 8, St. Anselm College
Nov. 1-2, Bloomsburg University
Oct. 18-19, Towson University
Oct. 10-11, West Chester University
Sept. 19-20, Purdue University and Sept. 27, Bloomsburg Novice Tournament
2002-03 National Tournament

Categorized in: Academic News