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Policies & Procedures

Forensics | Concordia University Irvine

Concordia University’s forensics program is an educational, co-curricular program that strives to develop each student's full potential as a self-confident, organized, critically aware public speaker capable of competent self-presentation of original or interpretive concepts and/or material in public or private settings, and to represent Concordia in the intercollegiate speech and debate community in the highest manner possible.

The coaching staff at Concordia firmly believes that competing in speech and debate can be one of the most life-changing events in a person’s life. We believe (and studies prove) that the skills necessary to succeed at this activity impact multiple aspects of a person’s life. This activity changes lives for the better. In an effort to achieve this goal, the following squad policies are in effect.

General Expectations

  • Attend Weekly Team Meetings: The team meets each week (unless otherwise noted) from 5:00 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons. Everyone is expected to attend each meeting, unless permission to miss has been granted by a member of the coaching staff. Attendance at 90% of all team meetings (excluding excused absences) is required to attend tournaments.
  • Check Email Regularly: Important information (often updates that occur between meetings) is communicated via email. Please communicate which email address you will regularly check to the Director of Forensics. Information shared in an email note should be handled carefully and not disseminated to non-team members.
  • Minimum Event Requirements: Each person, to attend a tournament and keep her/his scholarship, needs to prepare and compete in one of three categories of competitors: (1) IE-Only, (2) Debate only, or (3) IE & Debate. Attendance at three weekends of competition is required.
  • Fully Prepare Events: Attendance at tournaments is only for those who have prepared all of their events and prepared them fully. Debaters are expected to have completed their assignments and participated in practice debates. Speakers are expected to have memorized their prepared events and met for coaching times with coaches.
  • Practice All Events: Each Individual Events slot should be practiced weekly. Debate only competitors should practice twice weekly. IE & Debate competitors should practice debate once and each IE slot once weekly.
  • Tournament Attendance: When at tournaments, team members are bound by Concordia University’s Student Code of Conduct. Additionally, some tournament specific conduct is also expected of forensics team members, which is detailed below.
  • Engage in Ballot Review: After each tournament, each person should meet with a coach to review ballots from the previous tournament. Ballot review may, at the discretion of the coach, be considered a weekly practice appointment.
  • Assist with CUI Tournaments: When Concordia hosts and directs an intercollegiate debate tournament, each team member is expected to assist with either part or all of the event’s hosting duties.

Behavioral Guidelines

General Behavioral Issues:

It should go without saying that forensic activities are an extension of the Concordia campus life, meaning that all campus rules and expectations apply at tournaments. Taking part in inappropriate activities while at tournaments is an excellent way to be invited to leave forensics. The Director of Forensics WILL NOT allow the activity itself to be endangered by the irresponsible actions of a few. No single person is so important that this does not apply to her/him.

  • Dealing with Everybody: Whether a member of the CUI forensics team or members of another team, everyone deserves to be treated with respect. This means that any behavior that is offensive or harassing in nature is unacceptable. Whether in person or electronically, it is never acceptable to demean or degrade someone.
  • Dealing with Team Members: Not everybody will be close friends with everybody else on the team. This, however, does not excuse inappropriate behavior from one person to another. Matthew 18 outlines how to deal with conflict. First, approach the person individually. If this does not resolve the issue, then approach that person with a member of the coaching staff. Finally, if this does not solve the issue, the DOF and other members of the coaching staff will mediate the conflict. This means that mature Christianity confronts issues and does not resort to name-calling, gossiping, or being overly critical. Our Lord called us to love one another and behaviors that do not show Christ-like behavior are not appropriate.
  • Dealing with Coaches: Each member of the coaching staff has a great deal to offer students. It is always inappropriate to disrespect these people who are working hard to ensure everyone’s success. None of the assistant coaches is compensated enough for the time that each of them puts into this activity.

As a result, it is expected that everyone will ALWAYS make any coaching appointments that have been scheduled. Except for extreme and unforeseen emergencies, coaches must be alerted of any missed coaching time at least 24 hours in advance of the appointment. The first miss is a warning and the second miss will cause removal from the Forensics team and may result in loss of any applicable scholarship for the semester.

Finally, disrespect directed toward the coaching staff is NEVER acceptable. By simple virtue of her/his position, each coach deserves the respect of each student. The Apostle Paul reminds each of us to respect those in authority over us and that should be practiced and behaved on this competitive team. Some coaches have strengths in areas that others may not, but that does not invalidate their expertise. Certain acts of disrespect may result in immediate dismissal from the team.

Tournament Behaviors:

While representing Concordia by attending and/or participating in a tournament, each member of the Forensics Team will be expected to subscribe to the Student Code of Conduct. Additionally, and for clarity, please note the following:

  • Consumption of Alcohol: The use of alcohol at tournaments is not permitted. Squad members who possess, distribute, and/or use alcohol while attending a tournament will be subject to suspension or expulsion from the forensics team. Traveling to and from tournaments and competing at tournaments is not an appropriate time to drink.
  • Use of Narcotics: Unless prescribed by a doctor, the use of any narcotics at tournaments is not permitted. Students who possess, distribute, and/or use narcotic or any type of controlled substance will be subject to suspension and/or expulsion from the forensics team. Cold medications and/or aspirin are not to be considered a narcotic and are acceptable medicines.
  • Sexual Activity: Individuals, whether students or coaches, not married to one another may not engage in sexual activities at tournaments. Affectionate behavior that is not sexual in nature between couples who are dating, engaged or married is appropriate, so long as they do not create an uncomfortable atmosphere for the rest of the team. Non-married members of the opposite sex may not sleep in the same room.

Christian Witness:

As a traveling team for a Christian University, all members of the team should strive to uphold the values set forth by Christ Jesus. This is not just about obeying the school rules, but is also about “going the extra mile.” For example, each team member should be the most supportive audience member possible and be willing to help others or encourage them when they could use encouragement. Speeches should be edifying, and not objectionable.

Academic Expectations

Pursuit of academic excellence must be the number one priority of each team member. Everyone should be at Concordia University to receive an education and the completion of a degree. Intercollegiate forensics is a co-curricular, educational activity of Concordia University and is designed to complement curricular activities by enhancing students' skills in research, writing, speaking, and reasoning. Forensics is part of that education, but it can never supplant that education.

  • G.P.A. Requirement: A minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA is required for participation in forensics. Any student falling below this minimum GPA will be placed on probation for one semester. Probation will be removed by raising the overall GPA to a 2.50 or higher or by attaining at least a 3.00 GPA for the probation semester.
  • Missed Classes: Forensics is an official university activity. Attending certain tournaments may require missing scheduled class meetings or assignments. Most professors are agreeable to making special arrangements with advance notice since this is an official school approved academic activity. However, it is up to individual students to make arrangements necessary to complete assignments prior to the tournament.

Competitive Expectations

Competitor Requirements:

Each person will indicate which kind of competitor he/she wishes to be. To attend a tournament and maintain her/his scholarship, each person must meet the requirements of each type of competitor.

  • Individual Events Only Competitors: To be eligible to compete, each competitor must have at least two prepared events (excluding limited preparation events) for local and regional tournaments, and three events for travel/national tournaments (may include limited preparation events). EACH event must be approved by a member of the coaching staff. Scholarship students are especially required to remain current to keep their scholarship.
  • Debater Only Competitors: In order to be eligible to compete in a given tournament, each debater must have been attending the weekly meetings, performed adequately in practice debates, kept current with research assignments, and have completed their own individual filing assignments. A student choosing to only participate in debate events who receives a scholarship is required to remain current to keep her/his scholarship.
  • Debate/IE Combination Competitors: These students are expected to be prepared to compete in NPDA-style debate and two individual events (may include limited preparation events) before he/she may compete in a tournament. For debate, each student needs to meet the requirements listed above for debate and have met weekly with a member of the coaching staff to practice each individual event.
  • First Year Competitors: Novice requirements will be discussed individually, but typically will be at least one event for the first tournament (which will be a local event) and two events for the second and third tournaments. Subsequent tournaments fall into the categories noted above for all team members. Debate-only students may attend the first two tournaments competing in one form of debate only, but will be expected to add an individual event or second debate event by the third tournament. Students not receiving scholarship also fall into this category.

Tournament Commitment:

All team members who are on scholarship are required to help at events directed and hosted on Concordia’s campus and attend at least three tournament events per semester, two of which are shown on the yearly schedule in bold print and a third at the choosing of the competitor. Not every team member is eligible to compete in every tournament, so students should clearly communicate which optional tournaments they wish to attend early in the semester.

  • Tournament Eligibility: Some tournaments have different events and levels of competition. Also, budgetary restraints, transportation and judging availability require selective decisions be made for most tournaments. Do not just assume that everyone can compete at any tournament. Verify each tournament entry with the DOF.
  • Tournament Entries: The DOF will prepare each tournament entry based in part on each student’s commitments. Entries for two types of tournaments are taken:
    • Regular Season Tournaments: Entries will be preliminarily reviewed at the team meeting three Tuesdays before the beginning of the tournament. Two Tuesdays before the beginning of the tournament, final entries will reviewed and submitted to the tournament. Changes made after this time that cost the team money will be passed on to the student. If not paid, they will be added to the student’s school bill.
    • National Tournaments: For all national tournaments, entry deadlines are dictated by the national organization. Those entry deadlines will be announced when they are known. Changes made after the entry deadline may incur costs to the student and will be handled in the same way that regular season tournaments are handled.
  • Pre-Tournament “No-Shows”: Anyone failing to alert the DOF that he/she will not attend a given tournament or compete in a given event prior to the deadline for entry changes, means that he/she will be responsible for paying the applicable entry, judging and penalty fees charged to the school. Repeated no shows will jeopardize the student’s squad standing and potentially her/his scholarship.

Pre-Tournament Preparation:

To ensure that the limited travel funds available to the team are spent wisely, each person must qualify each event for competition. Events are qualified by meeting the following steps:

  • The event must be Tournament Ready – Whether a debate event, a prepared IE event or limited preparation IE event, each event entered at a tournament must be “tournament ready.” This means that, before the entry deadline, a coach must certify that:
    1. Interpretation Events have a coherent argument, have been cut, are memorized without need of the script, “in book” and have been fully blocked.
    2. Platform Speeches are completely written, memorized without stumbles, movements & gestures blocked and fluid, and delivery polished.
    3. Limited Preparation events are consistently well structured, supported with evidence, virtually free of delivery difficulties and making cogent arguments.
    4. Debate Events have been practiced weekly (either 1x or 2x, depending on the type of competitor) and any applicable brief assignments have been completed an approved by the Director of Debate.
  • Preparation must be completed: Each week, competitors are expected to make their coaching appointments and complete any assignments relevant to that coaching appointment. Debaters will also have regular (but not necessarily weekly) research assignments that need to be completed. Those who have completed 90% of their research assignments and coaching appointments are prepared to attend the tournament. Anybody below the 90% threshold may not attend a tournament until her/his preparation percentage reaches 90% or higher. This document is confidential information and is ONLY to be shared with members of the team and is NEVER to be discussed with those who are not part of CUI Forensics.

Tournament Practices:

Please read and be familiar with following expectations of tournament behaviors and CUI-specific conventions noted below:

  • Tournament Attire: Debaters are expected to wear at least business casual attire to all tournaments or activities representing the university. Those competing in individual events should be dressed in business professional attire.
  • Tournament “Go-Sheet”: For each tournament, the DOF will prepare a “go-sheet,” a document that contains all relevant information for the tournament (such as departure & return times, hotel info, room lists, final entry, etc.). The Go-Sheet will be distributed at the Tuesday meeting directly preceding the tournament, and sent to the team via email. Keep this document handy during the tournament.
  • Travel to Tournaments: For most every tournament, the university will either furnish a van or bus (for example, the team does not rent vehicles to travel to Irvine Valley College). Everyone attending the tournament is expected to travel in the van/bus, unless the DOF has specifically indicated his approval for non-CUI transportation. It is best to email the DOF for approval, in case his/her memory fails…
  • Departure Time: On each “Go-Sheet,” a departure location and time will be listed. Everyone is expected to be at the designated departure location by that time. The time listed includes 15 minutes to load the vans (or bus) and then depart. Once the 15 minutes have expired, the team will wait 5 additional minutes for any late members. After that, the team will depart. Late members not in the van will be expected to transport themselves to the tournament. Those failing to arrive on time (or not arriving at all) will be required to reimburse the team for any costs incurred by “no-showing.”
  • "No-Shows": Failing to complete any and/or all preliminary rounds in an event (and any elimination rounds for which you are eligible) are considered no-shows. No-showing to a round is one of the worst practices in which a competitor can engage. ALWAYS make EVERY round of competition. Competitors who no-show will be responsible for paying the applicable entry and judging fees charged to the school for that event. Repeated “no-shows” will jeopardize the student’s squad standing and potentially her/his scholarship.
  • Tournament Expenses: On most every occasion, the forensics team will take care of all expenses at a tournament (entry fees, travel expenses, even meal money). However, in some instances, it may be necessary for individuals to expend their own funds and then be reimbursed by the team. If this occurs, permission from the coach in charge at the tournament must be received PRIOR to the purchase and a receipt is ALWAYS necessary. When mileage reimbursement is requested, beginning and ending odometer readings are necessary.
  • Networking: As the old saying goes, the three most important things in business are networking, networking, and networking. It is not only appropriate to get to know as many people as possible from other schools (judges and competitors), it is also beneficial. Whether for good or bad, judges tend to vote for competitors that they know. Competitors tell their coaches about people they met on the circuit, and if that person has a favorable impression, when he/she is judging, they are more likely to vote for the likable person.

Qualifications for Nationals:

In order to be eligible to compete at one of the national championship tournaments on the travel calendar, each person or team needs to meet the following standards. Some of these are dictated by the national organization, others by CUI Forensics standards.

  • N.P.T.E.: The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence is a by-invitation only tournament. To attend, the NPTE requires a team to earn a minimum of 18 points from their four (4) best tournaments. Teams earn points based upon their performance in both preliminary and elimination rounds at each tournament.
  • NPDA Champs: The National Parliamentary Debate Association hosts its national championship tournament yearly. In order to attend, a team must have won an elimination round in senior/open division at a regular season tournament that year.
  • AFA-NIET: The American Forensics Association hosts the National Individual Events Tournament. Each event in competition at the NIET must be qualified (the event, not the person qualifies). To attend the tournament, each person must have qualified two events. To qualify an event, each person’s top three placings must add up to 8 or less. For example, placing 4th, 2nd and 1st in an event (total of 7) would qualify, while placing 4th, 3rd and 2nd (total of 9) would not qualify an event. Only senior/open division competition counts for qualification.
  • NFA Nationals: The American Forensics Association hosts the National Individual Events Tournament. Each event in competition at the NIET must be qualified (the event, not the person qualifies). To attend the tournament, each person must have qualified two events. To qualify an event, each person’s top three placings must add up to 8 or less. For example, placing 4th, 2nd and 1st in an event (total of 7) would qualify, while placing 4th, 3rd and 2nd (total of 9) would not qualify an event. Only senior/open division competition counts for qualification.
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