Colgate Speaking Union Wins Big

Natalie Gaugh

The four factions of the Colgate Speaking Union (CSU) all found success over the weekend of October 24, either by hosting an event or earning several trophies and commendations at prestigious competitions.

Mock Trial brought home its first team trophy in the history of the program, in addition to three individual awards from the Happy Valley Invitational hosted by Penn State.

“We’re really taking the next step as a group and becoming more competitive,” Mock Trial President senior Derek Hinckley said.

Colgate’s Mock Trial team consists of about 16 active members, and Hinckley reports that there is a “great group dynamic.” The team didn’t compete as much as they would have liked last year (a canceled flight caused complications), but they now have a busy season ahead of them. They plan on traveling to Harvard this weekend, Yale or Iowa in December, and the regional competition at Cornell in the spring.

“Academics come first,” Hinckley said. “It’s tough [to work] with people’s schedules.”

The team still manages to show the dedication needed to bring successes like those seen at Penn State. The group is very student-motivated in general. While CSU Coordinator John Adams, a former rhetoric professor, provides needed help and pep talks, but the team members generally prepare for tournaments independently.

A Mock Trial competition can last up to three days and consists of four rounds, each of which can last up to three hours. Every school in the country receives the same case, and must prepare both the plaintiff and defense side (they learn which side they are arguing 30 minutes before each round). The round allows for three “witnesses” and three “attorneys,” and the speakers are scored on both performance and knowledge of law. Team members must be in character, with parts of the proceedings being rehearsed and others being impromptu. These aspects require a person to showcase a wide range of oratorical skills. In certain situations, a competitor may have to even learn an entire new character in less than an hour.

The Happy Valley Tournament at Penn State consisted of 11 schools, including Yale, Georgetown and Lafayette. Two Colgate team members, sophomore Stephen Cohen and junior Rachel Feinstein, the team’s secretary, earned Outstanding Witness Awards, and senior Derek Hinckley received Outstanding Attorney for both his skill in directing his own witness and conducting the closing arguments.

The Regional competition will take place in mid-February in Syracuse.

“We hope to achieve big things,” Hinckley said.

Student Lecture Forum (SLF) launched a new program on WRCU in late October. The “Little Big Rhetoric Show” will be the first time SLF has been on the radio.

“They want to take advantage of the beautiful new facilities,” WRCU Director senior Brendan O’Connor said.

They aim to model the show after one of their other activities, University Scholars Dinner. On these occasions, students are invited to analyze a professor’s paper, then take their instructors out to dinner and grill them on it.

The organization is considering publishing a podcast, which would be available to download from the SLF website, and possibly the WRCU website.

While SLF representatives conduct most of their own interviews, they also invite members of the other CSU groups to get involved, so a member of Debate recently led one as well.

“SLF was created with the goal to create an on-campus voice,” O’Connor said. “We have two goals-to steward the intellectual climate on campus and to break the separation of the two spheres of life at Colgate.”

The organization believes that the academic and social can exist as one-for example, they are considering creating Pub with Your Prof, where SLF pays the tab for one or two drinks and students can spend time with their professors in a social setting.

They also sponsor SLF Asks, a weekly discussion event that is held in the Coop TV room Thursdays at 4 p.m.

“We often take the ridiculous side of the question,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor describes SLF as more of a society than a group, with about 12 people actively involved.

Model United Nation (MUN) received three awards at Columbia University-a feat which MUN President senior Matt Greeson finds impressive, considering the team had never competed at Columia before. Junior Carly Weil received a Best Delegate Award, senior Chris Bell was given an Outstanding Delegate Award and sophomore Emily Steiger earned a Verbal Commendation in her committee.

“It’s been a great year,” Greeson said. “We’re showing a lot of success.”

MUN will compete at Penn State this upcoming weekend, and aims to attend the World MUN event in The Hague, Netherlands in March.

On the weekend of October 24, Debate Society competed at Yale University, where one of Colgate’s teams finished in the top 30 of about 100 teams.

Debate Society participates in British Parliamentary Debate, which is more common outside of the U.S than American Parliamentary Debate.

“In U.S. schools, no one is really top for British Parliamentary,” Debate Society President junior Safwan Shabab said. “Yale could be the only exception. … Yale is considered the most competitive U.S. tournament.”

The high-placing duo consisted of senior Grafton Connor and sophomore Andrew Eldredge, both of whom joined Debate as first-years.

“This semester has been one of the most hectic for us,” Shabab said. “We’ve been to more tournaments than ever before.”

The season has been going well for them. Debate Society won their first tournament of the semester, earning the championship at Rochester.

So far, the team has already traveled to Claremont, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge, and they’re planning on competing at Queens and Ontario. The team is also hoping to travel to Ireland in January.

Each group has come a long way since the Colgate Speaking Union was founded five years ago, and their current achievements bode well for future successes.