News at Mason
Forensics Bests Top Teams in Texas
February 18, 2014
By Justin Lafreniere
George Mason University’s Forensics Team declared itself the squad to beat in a dominating performance that saw the team take home eight of 22 individual championships and the overall team championship at the Hell Froze Over Swing tournament on Jan. 11 and 12 in Austin, Texas.
The Forensics Team might be George Mason’s most successful team — academic, athletic or otherwise. In 43 years of competition, the team has 25 top-five finishes and has qualified students for the national tournament every year since 1977.
Forensics competitions are truly rigorous, multifaceted academic competitions. Events tend to follow three categories: public address, limited preparation and interpretive events. Each category focuses on the research behind the speech, the textual content and the delivery. Some contests feature a single orator, while others have a duo.
Sophomore Samuel Abney, who was a semifinalist in dramatic interpretation at the Austin event, says the team is “a part of a larger entity constantly striving for excellence,” referring to the young and innovative institution that is Mason.
Mason’s team won extemporaneous speaking, communication analysis and dramatic duo interpretation on both days of the event, as well as persuasive speaking and prose interpretation. The team also won the overall team competition, which meant beating nine out of 10 top-ranked teams (Mason is ranked third). Last semester, Mason finished the season second overall, beaten out only by Western Kentucky University.
Through forensics, the students develop their skills in writing, research and presentations.
The topics selected by the students for their competition speeches offer a way for students to share their opinions on significant social and political topics. For example, arguments delivered by the Mason team during their Texas tournament included speeches about same-sex domestic violence and dismantling the Department of Homeland Security.
Co-captain and senior Zachary Eisenstein says that forensics is more than just an intellectual sport. “It turns students into advocates. We speak about what we’re passionate about and we work to bring attention to many overlooked issues and underrepresented communities.”
The Forensics Team not only brings home championships, but serves the Mason community through the Speech Lab, a volunteer tutoring program that works with students to improve their public speaking.
The Forensics Team is looking to repeat the level of success they had during their Texas swing at the international competition in Paris, France, and the national competition at Arizona State University later in the semester, when they’ll try for a 26th top-five finish, or maybe even a national title.