The Department of Communication and Sociology at ACU harnesses the vital role of communication and data analysis in modern society. Develop the skills to lead purposefully in careers where people and information converge in our Communications courses. Study across social issues and learn valuable discernment skills in our Sociology courses. We combine service-learning, community-based research and internships for a powerful practical learning experience.

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Competing at ACU

Philosophy: Abilene Christian University enjoys a long and rich history of excellence in forensics. Long-term success is built on enduring principles, both at the team and individual level. Individually, a successful team member is one who sets high goals and, in the process of striving to reach those goals, discovers abilities, strengths, and limitations. As a team, success is measured in terms of group effort, camaraderie, and a positive reflection of the goals of ACU.  Forensics, at its highest level, is an enjoyable process of intellectual growth and personal self-discovery.

As an organization, ACU Debate strives to represent the vision and mission of ACU well. We work to train debaters and speakers to take the skills of logic, reasoning, and public speaking with them into their future careers. We also work to instill a respect for truthful and honest research as well as a longing for excellence in civil discourse. Our choice to participate in IPDA debate reflects our goals to train excellent speakers who value reasoned thought and respectful argumentation.

Attitude: As defined above, success is an ongoing process. As such attitude, or outlook, is both a reflection and product of this success, and an essential ingredient in it. A successful attitude as a member of this team is based on responsibility and respect. Responsibility requires honesty and integrity in fulfilling promises to God, oneself, and to others. Respect necessitates treating others politely, kindly, and honestly.

Academics: Academics come first. Your studies should be your primary concern. However, we do not view academics and forensics in conflict with each other. Rather, they are complementary. Those who manage their time well will find they have time to succeed in both environments.

Other Extracurricular Activities: Members of the Debate and Forensics team are encouraged to be very mindful of their involvement in other University activities. Being an active and successful member of the team requires significant practice and travel. As such, membership in other activities may need to be limited. Members are often active in other clubs and organizations on campus but with the time commitment of debate, good time management will be very important.

Tournament Hosting: As a forensic team member, you are committed to several weekends out of the school year to assist with our ACU IPDA tournament and the Texas Christian Schools Literary Meet. These tournaments are a service to the public speaking community.

Meetings: We meet each week as a team at designated times. These meetings are essential for the coordination of such a large group. It is the only regular opportunity for everyone to get together as a team.

Travel Schedule: Plan on attending competitive tournaments that will challenge your skill as a public speaker. The number of tournaments attended per semester varies, but it is typical to expect 5 or more. The forensic program pays for all related costs, including meals, lodging, entry fees, and travel.

Travel Conduct: It is an honor to attend tournaments as representatives of the University. Tournament attendance is an officially excused class absence. As representatives of ACU, you are expected to behave as such. Students and sponsors are expected to avoid rude, illicit, or illegal behavior at tournaments and abide by the rules and policies of ACU.

Summary of Events

Here is a listing of events that are offered at most competitive tournaments. A brief summary of the event follows each heading.

IPDA (International Public Debate Association)

Individual IPDA Debate. The central focus of IPDA is to promote a debate format that emphasizes public speaking and real-world persuasion skills over the use of evidence and speed. The current ACU team finds this style of debate to be the most beneficial and useful for students once they leave school, as well as being one of the most civil forms of competitive collegiate debate available.

IPDA primarily utilizes a one-on-one, or individual, debate format in which one debater takes the side of the affirmative where they have the burden of advocating and proving the resolution. The other debater takes the side of the negative where they have the burden of refuting the affirmative case. For each round, the two debaters are given five possible resolutions. The negative begins the topic selection by striking one resolution, then the affirmative strikes one resolution. The negative strikes again. Thus, the affirmative has two resolutions to choose from. The affirmative then strikes one of the remaining resolutions, selecting the other as the topic for the round. After the topic has been selected, both debaters have thirty minutes to prepare a case.

TIPDA (Team) Debate. IPDA also offers a team format of public debate. The team format consists of 2 teams made up of 4 debaters, 2 representing each school, with one team representing the Affirmative and the other representing the Negative. Each debater will speak a maximum of 2 speeches each round, usually according to their speaker order determined by the team themselves, numbered as First and Second.

Individual Events (Also called IE’s).

Persuasion. A speech to convince, to move to action, or to inspire on a significant issue, delivered from memory. Maximum time is 10 minutes.

Extemporaneous. For each round, contestants will select one of three topics on current national and international events. The contestant will have thirty minutes to prepare a five to seven minute speech on the topic selected. Notes are permissible but should be at a minimum. Maximum 7 minutes.

Impromptu. Contestants will receive short excerpts dealing with items of general interest, political, economic, and social issues. The contestant will have a total of seven minutes to divide between preparation and speaking. Students should speak for at least three minutes. All contestants in the same section shall speak on the same topic. Maximum 7 minutes.

Rhetorical Criticism. Contestants will deliver an original critical analysis of any significant rhetorical artifact. The speaker should limit the quotation of, paraphrasing of, or summary of, the analyzed artifact to a minimum. Any legitimate critical methodology is permissible as long as it serves to open up the artifact for the audience. The Speech must be delivered from memory. Maximum 10 minutes.

Informative. The contestant will deliver an original factual speech on a realistic subject to fulfill a general information need of the audience. Visual aids that supplement/ reinforce the message are permitted. The speech must be delivered from memory. Maximum 10 minutes.

After Dinner. Each contestant will present an original speech whose purpose is to make a serious point through the use of humor. The speech should reflect the development of a humorous comedic effort, not a stand up comedy routine. The speech must be memorized. Maximum 10 minutes.

Prose. The contestant will present a program of prose literature. Original introductory comments and transitional remarks are permitted. Programs may consist of single or multiple selections. Plays are not permitted. Manuscripts are required. Maximum 10 minutes.

Poetry. The contestant will present a program of poetic literature. Original introductory comments and transitional remarks are permitted. Programs may consist of single or multiple selections. Manuscripts are required. Maximum 10 minutes.

Dramatic Duo. A cutting from a play, humorous or serious, involving the portrayal of two or more characters presented by two individuals. This is not an acting event. Thus, costumes, props, etc. are not permitted.  Presentation must be from manuscript and focus should be off stage. Maximum 10 minutes.

Previous Directors of Forensics

Included in the robust history of forensics at ACU is a long line of distinguished program directors. Each of these directors left their own unique and impressive mark on ACU’s competitive forensics program.

Sheila Ritchie 2018 – Present
Kristina Davis 2017 – 2018
Dylan Brugman 2016 – 2017
Dena Counts 2010 – 2016
Sally Gary, J.D. 2001 – 2010
Dr. Jeffrey Hobbs 1990 – 2001
Dr. Joseph Cardot 1980 – 1990
Dr. Edwin M. Brown 1971 – 1976
Ken Baker 1971 – 1972
Gaston Welborn, J.D. 1970 – 1971
Dr. Edwin M. Brown 1961 – 1970
Dr. Paul Forshay 1960 – 1961
Milton Copeland, J.D. 1959 – 1960
Dr. Edwin M. Brown 1955 – 1958
Dr. Rex P. Kyker 1947 – 1955
Dr. Fred Barton 1939 – 1946
Dr. Don H. Morris 1928 – 1939