Florida Southern College’s Speech and Debate society was resurrected in recent semesters by students in the political science department who hope to once again foster discourse on campus.
Mikaela Guido, a second-year political science and psychology double major and member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and College Democrats, is the president of the Forensics Club. Forensics speci cally refers not to criminology or law enforcement but to forensic rhetoric, coined by Aristotle.
Not only is the Forensics Club open to any students, Guido said, but it actively searches for students with interdisciplinary majors. The organization, while housed in the political science department in the Ordway Building, is conducive to students who enjoy public speaking and who are effective communicators.
Guido claims that Forensics Club is distinct from other public speaking organizations like Toastmasters because while the latter focuses on after-dinner speaking, her group participates in speech tournaments. It also explores debate forms and different types of speeches and features readings of famous discourse.
The club has already hosted events like a parliamentary debate, in which the actors did not know the topics until it convened. Each participant had 30 minutes to prepare, but the topics were simple enough to craft a coherent argument quickly depending on the position (in favor of or against) that they are assigned.
Other debates have been in a 2-on-2 format, and are much more structured. “They’re easy to practice,” Guido said; she listed environmental vegetarianism and space-time policies as two topics the club has explored.
Next semester, Guido hopes that the club may host a debate conference or attend one at the University of South Florida. Her personal goals regarding the organization include raising participation from students outside the Political Science department and fostering a community-relevant debate that goes beyond being a “gripe session” and proposes solutions to campus issues.