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Speech & Debate

About The Howling ‘Yotes

Speech and Debate at The College of Idaho has a long history, stretching back at least to 1912, when the First President of the College, Dr. William Boone mentioned debate team victories in his journals. This tradition of excellence continues into the present day, where the College of Idaho regularly finds itself racking up victories and final round appearances. Notably, the team has been ranked in the Top 20 nationally every year since 2013 and took home a 5th place individual finish in 2016.

The Howling ‘Yotes (as the Speech and Debate team is called) is housed in the Department of Theatre and Speech Arts, where competitors have the opportunity to participate in both regional and national debate tournaments, testing their intellectual mettle against the toughest competitors in the United States (and, occasionally, the world).

The Howling ‘Yotes participate in National Parliamentary Debate, International Public Debate, British Parliamentary Debate, and Individual Events in the Northwest Forensics Conference, as well as nationally. We view Speech and Debate as a valuable tool to gain real-world experience in speaking, conflict management, research, and writing skills, as well as cultivating productive group interactions. As a team, we value Community, Diversity, and Professionalism—and work to provide competitors with an opportunity to develop these skills in a collegial environment in locales across the United States.

The Speech and Debate team welcomes students from all majors and minors, as well as those in any year of their College careers. We do offer scholarships for incoming students—based on competitive merit and competitive potential.

What We Do

  • National Parliamentary Debate: The National Parliamentary Debate Association is the largest national intercollegiate debate organization in the United States, with between 200-250 schools attending at least one tournament during the course of the year. The NPDA is about encouraging extemporaneous two-on-two debate. The styles of debate vary across the country, from traditional public-centered debate to more policy-oriented debate. We believe that no matter where debate occurs, students need to be prepared to debate about a variety of topics. We also believe that parliamentary debate fosters more knowledgeable and engaged citizens.
  • British Parliamentary Debate: Despite the name, there’s nothing especially British about British Parliamentary debate, though its origins can be traced to the British university system. The defining characteristics of the style are as follows: 1/ 15 minutes prior to each round a “motion” is announced. Motions are drawn from a wide range of topic areas, including domestic and foreign policy, philosophy, political theory, and so on. 2/ Four teams compete in each round, two on each side. Each team in the round has a dual burden: to rebut any arguments made by the two teams on the other side of the motion, and to do a better job of defending (or opposing) the motion than the other team on its own side. 3/ Each of the four teams in a BP-style debate round comprises two members, each of whom gives one speech, usually with an upper time limit of seven minutes. 4/ After all eight speakers have made their case, the debaters leave the room, and the judges deliberate until they agree on a ranking of the teams from 1 (best) to 4 (worst). If no agreement can be reached, a majority vote is held after the time allotted for adjudication has elapsed. 5/ Judges (ideally) rely primarily on considerations of persuasiveness in reaching their decision, though style, resolutionality, and a few other factors are also sometimes considered.
  • International Public Debate: Founded in 1997, the International Public Debate Association is one of the fastest-growing interscholastic debate associations in the nation with competitive programs ranging from California to Florida, from Texas to Michigan.  Its mission is to provide an opportunity for individuals to develop their advocacy skills in a forum that promotes appropriate and effective communication.
  • Individual Events: A variety of different competitive speaking and interpretive events, dedicated to providing students with the ability to engage with complex thoughts, and to speak about them with passion and conviction. Generally, Individual Events are broken up into three different categories, with each category including a variety of competitive events.
    • Limited Preparation
      • Impromptu Speaking- An impromptu speech, substantive in nature, with topic selections varied by round and by section. Topics will be derived from quotations. Speakers will have a total of 7 minutes for both preparation and speaking. Timing commences with the acceptance of the topics sheet. Limited notes are permitted.
      • Extemporaneous Speaking- Contestants will be given three topics in the general area of a current event, choose one, and have 30 minutes to prepare a speech that is the original work of the student. The maximum time limit for the speech is 7 minutes. Limited notes are permitted. The student will speak in the listed order. Postings of topics will be staggered.
    • Platform Speaking
      • Persuasive Speaking- An original speech by the student-designed to inspire, reinforce, or change the beliefs, attitudes, values or actions of the audience. Audio-visual aids may or may not be used to supplement and reinforce the message. Multiple sources should be used and cited in the development of the speech. Minimal notes are permitted. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes.
      • Informative Speaking- An original, factual speech by the student on a realist subject to fulfill the general aim to inform the audience. Audio-visual aids may or may not be used to supplement and reinforce the message. Multiple sources should be used and cited in the development of the speech. Minimal notes are permitted. Maximum time is 10 minutes.
      • After Dinner Speaking- An original, humorous speech by the student, designed to exhibit sound speech composition, thematic, coherence, direct communicative public speaking skills, and good taste. The speech should not resemble a night club act, an impersonation, or comic dialogue. Audio-visual aids may or may not be used to supplement and reinforced the message. Minimal notes are permitted. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes.
      • Communication Analysis- An original speech by the student-designed to offer an explanation and/or evaluation of a communication event such as a speech, speaker, movement, poem, poster, film, campaign, etc., through the use of rhetorical principles. Audio-visual aids may or may not be used to supplement and reinforce the message. Manuscripts are permitted. Maximum time limit is 10 minutes.
    • Interpretive Events
      • Prose Interpretation- An original or selections of prose material of literary merit, which may be drawn from more than one source. The focus of this event is on the development of the narrative/story. Play cuttings and poetry are prohibited. The use of manuscript is required. The maximum time is 10 minutes including an introduction.
      • Dramatic Duo- A cutting from one or more texts of literary merit, humorous or serious, involving the portrayal of two or more characters presented by two individuals. The material may be drawn from any genre of literature. This is not an acting event; thus, no costumes, props, lighting, etc, are to be used. Presentation is from the manuscript and the focus should be off-stage and not to each other. The maximum time limit is 10 minutes including introduction.
      • Program Oral Interpretation- A program of thematically-linked selections of literary merit, chosen from two or three recognized genres of competitive interpretation (prose/poetry/drama). A primary focus of this event should be on the development of the theme through the use of narrative/story, language, and/or characterization. A substantial portion of the total time must be devoted to each of the genres used in the program. Different genres mean the material must appear in separate pieces of literature ( e.g., A poem included in a short story that appears only in that short story does not constitute a poetry genre.) Only one selection may be original. The use of manuscript is required. The maximum time limit is 10 minutes including introduction.
      • Drama Interpretation- A cutting that represents one or more characters from a play or plays of literary merit. The focus of this event is on the development of characterization. This material may be drawn from stage, screen, or radio. The use of manuscript is required. The maximum time limit is 10 minutes including introduction.
      • Poetry Interpretation- A selection or selections of poetry of literary merit, which may be drawn from more than one source. A primary focus of this event should be on the development of language. Play cuttings and prose works are prohibited. The use of manuscript is required. The maximum time limit is 10 minutes including introduction.

Why Join Speech and Debate?

Speech and Debate is a high impact learning opportunity that asks you to hone your rhetorical skills by putting them into practice. With the Howling ‘Yotes, you have the opportunity to put your speaking skills to the test by engaging in praxis, the application of theory to the practical concerns of actually structuring and delivering a speech. Additionally, competition in Speech and Debate offers skills beyond the obvious, including:

  • Communication
    • Practice audience adaptation by applying your knowledge to real-world problems.
    • Develop confidence in your speaking abilities through practice and application.
    • Receive feedback on your speeches from a wide and diverse judging pool.
    • Observe speakers from around the country, as they develop ideas and concepts on their feet.
  • Research & Writing Skills
    • Develop and support sound claims, as they are tested by others, developing your critical reasoning skills.
    • Engage in preparation that allows you to hone your arguments and ideas into a concise form.
    • Practice researching controversies and wicked problems with a focus on making the world a better place.
    • Use research in combination with your general bank of knowledge, as you learn to apply knowledge “on your feet.”
  • Organizational Skills
    • Learn to organize and create large research databases, which will allow you to prepare information and then quickly retrieve it for use.
    • Opportunities to judge at tournaments provide real-world organizational training.
    • Participating in speech and debate provides on the ground application of organizational skills, as you learn to manage your obligations, and make it to a variety of different appointments on time.
  • Conflict Management
    • Learn to how to use conflict over ideas as a spur to improvement, rather than a zero-sum game of winning/losing.
    • Be able to defend and explore your ideas in an adversarial framework—which provides real-world preparation for careers in which your ideas will be tested by those you work with.
  • Productive Group Interactions
    • Develop close advising relationships with coaches and colleagues.
    • Travel and develop relationships with students at other Colleges and Universities around the nation.
    • Fosters a sense of camaraderie among teammates that is rare in many college settings.
    • Engage in peer coaching to learn how to take, and offer constructive criticism.

Scholarships

The College of Idaho offers competitive scholarships to incoming students, based in their demonstrated or potential to contribute to The College of Idaho Howling ‘Yotes. Award amounts vary depending on the experience and achievement of the applicant—but students with all experience levels are encouraged to apply.

To complete a scholarship application, please visit: http://bit.ly/thehowlingyotes

Any additional materials that you would like to submit, or letters of recommendation from coaches or camp leaders, which are highly encouraged, can be submitted directly to Dr. Kyle Cheesewright, Assistant Professor of Speech and Debate either via electronic mail or regular mail:

Dr. Kyle Cheesewright
2112 Cleveland Blvd.
Box 61
Caldwell, ID 83605