Director of Forensics
Academics | Forensics
Ripon College Forensics Team
The Ripon College Forensics Team was started in 1913 by Professor of Speech E.R. Nichols with the founding of the national speech and debate honorary society Pi Kappa Delta. The team performs at the highest levels of collegiate forensics and competes at the district and national tournaments of the American Forensic Association (AFA), in addition to other regional and national invitational tournaments, including the Mid-America Forensic League (MAFL) and the National Forensic Association (NFA).
The Ripon College Forensics Team recognizes a student’s commitment to forensics, service to the greater forensics community, and academic excellence. Scholarships of up to $5,000 per year are available through a process of application, interview, and audition. After the performance, the students will be coached to determine their ability to adapt to suggestions and recommendations and acceptance of feedback and criticism.
Due to the wide range of abilities and talents offered at the high school level of forensics, in addition to the various types of forensics practiced across the country, students of all levels and backgrounds can audition for a forensics scholarship. Students often perceive that scholarships are offered only to the “pros” who are in national-level final rounds, and that is not the case at Ripon College. Many of the schools in Wisconsin, for example, do not offer the opportunity to travel to CFL or NFL nationals, and those students should not be punished for not having the opportunity to travel at a regional or national level.
Renewal: Students must participate in at least three invitationals per semester, the Wisconsin state tournament, and, if they qualify, the district and national tournaments. In addition, students must maintain enrollment as a full-time student, be in good academic standing, and make satisfactory progress toward a degree at Ripon College.
The tournament travel schedule of the Ripon team is an intense tour of the Midwest, including colleges and universities throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. Ripon also hosts a college tournament in mid-February with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the Red Hawk Invitational.
The team travels across the country and over the past decade has appeared at tournaments from Long Beach, CA to Lincoln, NE and Austin, TX to Ithaca, NY. The team’s season schedule begins with Forensics Boot Camp in August and ends with Nationals in April. It is not possible for every student to compete in every tournament; thus, the team typically attends over 20 tournaments per year to provide students ample opportunity for competition.
Students compete in a variety of individual events in college-level forensics, most typically the eleven events sponsored by the American Forensic Association (AFA). These eleven events fall within three genres of oral interpretation, limited preparation, and public address. While Ripon College does not require a specific number of events per student, it is expected that competitive team members will travel with at least three events (or at least two events for students entering their first college tournament).
In addition, students should not expect to compete solely in the events for which they found success in high school. College interp, for example, is substantially more competitive than high school interp as practiced at most Wisconsin high school tournaments. College-level invitational tournaments are generally open varsity, and the Midwest features many top-10 and top-20 nationally-ranked teams. While this may sound a bit intimidating, Ripon College carefully selects tournaments for new team members who have limited forensics experience. Select college tournaments also offer novice or junior varsity rounds for those in their first or second years of competition. Although all students are welcome to audition, students who travel for competition must prepare their events to a level of tournament quality as determined by the coaches.
All costs of competition are covered by the Ripon College Forensics Team, including entry fees, travel expenses, lodging, and meals. In addition, all of the interp books, visual aids (including cases and stands), and photocopies are included. It should be noted that this is a very unusual set-up for a college team. Typically, students must engage in fundraising activities or pay a portion of the costs out of pocket.
Ripon’s tradition of covering costs is dependent upon students respecting the college’s ability to provide funds for these purposes and taking responsibility to help keep costs reasonable. In addition, professional business attire is expected at all tournaments. While students are responsible for covering this expense, the Ripon College Forensics Team does provide transportation to local shopping outlets at the beginning of the fall semester to assist with this requirement.