STORY & PHOTOS BY AARON WEINSTEIN, STAFF WRITER
The Cypress College forensics team is returning to the Phi Rho Pi national speech and debate tournament for the first time since 2019.
Forensics as a word has historically meant to seek the truth – and on the forensics team students use speech and debate to seek the truth though preparing speeches, and debating.
According to team officials, their hiatus has been due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The last year has been about rebuilding and the team has already competed this year at Tabor-Venitsky and for the National Online Forensics Championships. Online competitions are new, but not a complete substitute to in-person events, said team officials.
Phi Rho Pi is a national forensics association for two year colleges, and this year they are holding their competition in Rockfield, Maryland, 30 minutes outside Washington DC. Five students from the 14 person team will be attending the national tournament, according to Jennifer Page, Director of Forensics for Cypress College.
“The team gives students an opportunity to go to different places and do different things they wouldn’t normally be able to do,” said Page, “I’m excited to see the look on their faces.”
In addition to the educational opportunities offered to students, Cypress students plan to ride the train to DC for some sightseeing at the Capital.
Second year philosophy major Taryn Ogasawara, one of the Cypress students attending, said she would be competing in prose interpretation and persuasive speaking.
“My favorite one is the persuasive speech about how the lack of Asian American history books is a problem,” said Ogasawara. Her prose is a selection about a Korean American student who struggles at an all white school. Ogasawara also said she is also looking forward to watching some debate and is intrigued by how fast they converse while using evidence.
The last time Cypress College attended Phi Rho Pi in 2019 they won three sweepstakes awards, said Page. In March 2020, when the campus shut down, the team was getting ready to travel to Tokyo for the International Forensics Association competition. This past fall semester was all about rebuilding the team, said Page, and also about rebuilding the community. Page said she isn’t alone, and that other teams are scrambling to prepare, “talking to other coaches, I know, we will get there.”
Cypress College students who want to join the forensics team can take COMM 138 or 238 next fall, said Page, and the team plans to attend the IFA tournament in Dublin, Ireland next year. The class also meets the critical thinking requirement for transfer to Cal State.