Speech and Debate team showcase their talent

Rachel Hauser, Staff Writer

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Sexual assault on women, suicide, depression, refugees, fake news, and smart scalpel technology were all discussed at Mesa College’s 15th Annual Speech and Debate Showcase on the evening of May 3. The speeches and the parliamentary debate participants were either current members of the Mesa’s Speech and Debate team, or alumni. The different kinds of speeches performed were informative, communication analysis, poetry interpretation, impromptu, extemporaneous, and lastly, the parliamentary debate.

This years speech and debate team competed in nine tournaments. Two of the tournaments were international, including the International Forensics Association in Lima, Peru, and seven nationally, including participating in nationals in Washington, D.C.

Robert Andrews, a current student at Mesa,  started by giving an informative speech on smart scalpel technology. An informative speech is when the speaker explains a significant development, process, concept, or topic. Andrews spoke about how this new technology can aid doctors and surgeons in operating around cancerous or noncancerous tissue without damaging the skin and surrounding area. The impact the smart scalpel has can significantly decrease the cancer rates and can even prevent the doctors from damaging the patient’s brain during surgery. Even though this informative speech was loaded with information involving the technology of the knife and serious issues involving cancer, Andrews was still was able to throw in punny jokes about knives while breaking down what a smart scalpel is.

The next speech was given by Duc Lee, a student at Mesa,  as a communication analysis. These types of speeches are made to analyze and evaluate a rhetorical artifact or event, using a communication theory. Lee took on the heavy topic of sexual assault towards women. He discussed the recent topic of rape culture and victim blaming, which is when victims get blamed for the act of rape. This idea deals with the cultural, individual, situational, and immediate effects of rape and connected it to a photo series by Yana Muzurkevich called, “It Happens,”  inspired by the Brock Turner case. The photo series had pictures that showed that what happens during rape isn’t the victim’s fault because … “it happens”. The photo captions stated that it happens to anyone, from anyone, anywhere, anytime, without reason, suddenly, and unexpectedly. Lee’s speech was very moving and eye-opening about how our culture perceives rape and the victims.

Poetry interpretation is when the speaker combines multiple poems with a common theme together in order to present an argument. J. Uriel Montes gave an extraordinary speech on the topic of suicide and depression. Montes’s poem interpretation was titled “When Help Doesn’t Help,” and combined the poems “The Madness Vase” by Andrea Gibson , “Happy” by Dottie James, and “Your Heart is a Muscle” by Ramshackle Glory. The poetry interpretation was about finding happiness through everyday griefs. As Montes notes in his speech, suicide is the third leading cause of death by college students in the U.S., so it hit home for a lot of college students listening to the poem. By the end of the speech, the entire room was on their feet giving a standing ovation. Rightfully so, J. Uriel Montes gave this speech at regionals and won first place.

Mario Sutka gave an impromptu speech on a the quote, “The secret of happiness is to make others believe they are the cause of its meaning”. Impromptu speeches are when they are given a quote and have two minutes to prepare a 5 minute response to the given prompt. Sutka used the quote he was given and compared it to Peruvian customs- how they share their drink with the ground (mother earth) and their friends, as well as, the movie “Hidden Figures” because it started with three African-American women who were “trailblazers” and have had an extreme impact on today’s society. And lastly, the book, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman comparing the quote, “true happiness is when credit is shared equally.” Even though Sutka had only two minutes to prepare this speech, it seemed like he had rehearsed this before with the amount of thought and examples that went into it. During the tournaments throughout the year, Sutka has earned a place in the finals numerous times.

Duc Lee gave his second speech for the night, this time as an extemporaneous speech. An extemporaneous speech is when the speaker delivers a seven minute speech after 30 minutes of preparation to address a given topic. After choosing the question “Does creation of tougher design when screening of refugees make the United States safe again?” Lee took the side that creating a tougher screening process for refugees will not create a safer nation for us. He used the example that you are more likely to die from a colonoscopy than to die by a refugee. For the little amount of time Lee had to prepare for this speech, he wowed the crowded with his examples backed up by sources. Lee had plenty of practice  wowing crowds from going to nationals for this type of speech and earning a bronze out of 100 participants.

A short intermission was given to the debaters so they could have time to prepare for the parliamentary debate to end the night. Parliamentary debate is when two teams take sides as either the government or opposition to debate over a given topic. For this debate, the crowd chose the topic to be “fake news has more influence than real news.” On the opposition side was David Berver, a professor and coach of the Mesa Speech and Debate team, and Jaimie Owens, alumni of Mesa Speech and Debate and Cole McDaniel and Robert Andrews, both currently on the team, as the government.  The government side used examples such as the pizza gate scandal and the pope endorsing Trump to prove their case, while the opposition opposed those ideas, giving the examples of Americans having a low media literacy rate, so they aren’t able to tell the difference. The debate ended in a tie, meaning the opposition won by default. McDaniel went to nationals for debate and earned a bronze out of 75 contestants.

To wrap up the speeches and debate, Deondrick Fleming and Francesca Aguirre who were the announcers throughout the debate, thanked everyone for attending the showcase and invited Dr. Kim Perigo, Department Chair of Communication and Speech and Debate team coach, and Bryan Malinis, Communication Professor and Speech and Debate team coach, who wanted to give out awards since the showcase was the last event of the year for the team. Lee won the award for having the most individual events, Mcdaniel earned the award for more debate wins, and lastly, Lee won the award for most overall wins.

If you wish to learn more about the Speech and Debate team you can visit the Speech and Debate page on Mesa’s Website.

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