Students from across the nation were challenged to use their skills in argumentation and public speaking in the 37th annual American Forensic Association Individual Events Tournament Saturday and Sunday on the Tempe campus.
More than 500 students from 82 colleges from across the country met in the Arizona Ballroom for the competition.
AFA-NIET is an intercollegiate forensics tournament held annually and hosted by different universities each year.
Local host Nick Butler said ASU was announced to host AFA-NIET during last year’s competition, held at Texas State University.
“Schools typically place a bid two years in advance,” he said. “Next year the competition will be in Louis & Clark College in Oregon.”
Joel Hetling from South Dakota State University said he has been a coach for his school’s team for 35 years and is also part of the tournament staff.
“Students compete from all over the country and to make it this far, they have to complete certain requirements,” he said. “Students here are the top 10 percent of the 20 to 25 thousand students who enter. It’s very difficult for students to complete all the requirements.”
Hetling said there is an assortment of different competitions that would be played out throughout the weekend.
“There are competitions on public address categories and debates on research,” he said. “There are some where students have 30 minutes to prepare and others where they only have seven minutes to prepare and use information off the top of their head.”
The competition was established with the objective to teach students to utilize skills of argumentation advocacy. In the beginning, AFA was primarily focused on promoting debate competitions but has moved toward including individual competitions.
The tournament dates back to April 1978, when 168 students were ranked from more than 50 school and 296 speech entries. Students have to compete in categories ranging from impromptu speaking to after dinner speaking.
Tournament director Larry Schnoor said there are three main categories of events that include interpretation events, public address events and limited interpretation events.
Interpretation events involve the performer selecting and cutting text from a play, book or movie and acting out the scenes.
Public address events require participants to perform an originally written speech covering a specific topic or issue.
Limited preparation events are unique from other events in that students must come up with a speech on the spot with limited preparation.
Eric Roesch, who is a judge from Ball State University, said students are judged and evaluated in every category.
“Our role is to view the different speeches, give feed back and rank,” he said.
Both team and individual awards are given to the best overall performing team and individual at every AFA-NIET.
Awards are given to the teams with the highest total of points earned by the team and individual.
Karen Bagounian, a junior from Easter Michigan University, was one of the competitors.
“It takes a whole lot of preparation and preliminary competition,” she said. “It’s a pretty big deal to make it this far.”
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