Speech and debate phase-out paused

Quinn Gorham, Freelance Writer

Amidst the speech and debate team’s success and growth, administration has paused the phase-out process for the team  to further assess the possibility of allowing the program to continue.

In pausing the process, administration has allowed the speech and debate team, also known as the Forensics team, to continue as normal. Joy Qualls, chair of the communication studies department, released a statement in regards to the decision. However, she did not disclose any specific information regarding the temporary delay beyond wanting the new School of Fine Arts and Communication dean to make the final decision.


“The President’s Cabinet has decided to pause the phase-out plan for the Forensics team in order to allow the incoming Dean of Fine Arts and Communication to assess the landscape of the program, the Communication Studies Department and the School, and to recommend future action,” Qualls said in her statement. “The coaching staff and the department are actively recruiting incoming students to maintain minimally sufficient team numbers for the 18-19 academic year.”

As the coaching staff recruits students, current members of the team will also continue to receive scholarships as an incentive for being on the team.

“Ever since the phase-out process was announced, we’ve stayed in the conversation with administration, trying to make sure that we can somehow either prevent it, or change our strategy slightly to form a plan that might be more attractive to Biola,” said Sean Hansen, Forensics team coach and professor of communication studies.


Maintaining their growth has proven beneficial for the team, as they continue to find success in their debates amongst other schools in tournaments. One product of this growth is sophomore communications major Aaron Wakashige, who joined the Forensics team last semester and currently holds a national championship title after placing first first in his division at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational.

“Joining the Forensics team was probably the best decision that I’ve made in college,” Wakashige said. “It’s been the thing that I’ve probably learned the most from overall, so far.”

The program provides students with excellent experience in the field of communication, and students appreciate the program for this. According to Wakashige, it helps students practice crucial skills such as listening, understanding important topics and articulating their ideas.

Wakashige expressed his concern for the possibility of the program being phased-out as well.

“I was honestly really disappointed, because it’s a great program,” Wakashige said. “It’s a really great opportunity for people to learn skills that they’re going to take with them wherever they go. It’s really sad to see something that important to people’s success taken out,” .

Amongst the uncertainty, the Forensics team has fought the phase-out process, and presently, it seems to be working.

“We are still attempting to grow and expand our reach as a team, and to continue our previous successes,” Hansen said.

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