HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau has busy semester with tournaments at home and abroad

ssb_colorado_springs_for_webBROWNWOOD – October 30, 2012 – Howard Payne University’s speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau, has a busy month ahead hosting and competing in tournaments. In addition to conducting the Fall 2012 Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association state championship tournament Nov. 2-4 on the HPU campus, the SSB will travel to Oxford, England, to compete in the Oxford IV Inter-Varsity Debate Tournament Nov. 8-10.

Approximately 200 competitors, judges and coaches from 20 universities and colleges from Texas and other southern states will arrive on the HPU campus at the end of the week.

“We are absolutely delighted to host this competition for this first time ever on the HPU campus,” said Dr. Julie Welker, chair of the communication department and SSB coach. “The Fall TIFA tournament attracts many schools from across Texas and the surrounding states. We are excited about having these universities and junior colleges visit and compete at HPU.”

Directly on the heels of the TIFA tournament, HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau will travel to England for the Oxford debate tournament. The Oxford IV is the largest and most prestigious debating competition on the UK university circuit and is hosted by the famous Oxford Union.

“Several years ago I was presented with the idea of our team competing at the Oxford tournament and it’s been our goal to make that happen,” Welker said. “We normally compete in parliamentary debate, which differs from British Parliamentary style debate, so we knew making the transition would be a challenge.”

Welker added that she has relied heavily on the help of SSB member Jake Aschmutat, a senior from Corpus Christi, to whom she gave the task of learning about BP-style debate and coaching the students who are competing.

“Jake has done an outstanding job of coaching the BP students,” Welker said. “He has gone above and beyond to prepare them for the Oxford tournament.”

Welker will take eight students to Oxford. Two teams will compete – Catherine Mullaney, a junior from Boylston, Mass., and Katie Rose Bonner, a sophomore from Lytle; as well as Aschmutat and Jessica Ramirez, a junior from Bangs. Kaleigh Tankersley, a freshman from Iraan, and Marcos Corley, a freshman from Corpus Christi, will serve as “wing judges” at the competition, assisting the judges in adjudicating the debate. Kim Bryant, associate professor of communication and SSB coach, will also travel with the team and serve as a wing judge along with Welker.

The group also recently travelled to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., to compete in the 50th Annual Forensics Classic Tournament.

For the first time in HPU history, the team competed in BP-style debate, governed by the World Universities Debating Council. SSB also had teams entered in parliamentary debate and individual events.

The team of Bonner and Mullaney advanced to the quarterfinal round.

“We weren’t sure what to expect since this was our first BP-style tournament, but we were very pleased that one team advanced to quarters – especially at a tournament like this with teams of a very high caliber competing,” Welker said.

Other students who competed included Aschmutat; Corley; Ramirez; Tankersley; Sarah Owens, a freshman from San Antonio; Ben Palmer, a junior from Van; and Dorie Walton, a freshman theatre major from Lolita.

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Photo cutline: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau is having a busy semester hosting and competing in tournaments. Pictured at a recent competition at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., are: Dr. Julie Welker, Sarah Owens, Dorie Walton, Jessica Ramirez, Jake Aschmutat, Kaleigh Tankersley, Marcos Corley, Catherine Mullaney, Ben Palmer, Katie Rose Bonner and Kim Bryant.