This past weekend, Eastern Michigan University’s most successful program added to an already storied legacy by winning yet another team championship.
To provide context of EMU’s forensics team dominance: since the Michigan Interscholastic State tournament began in the 1970s, EMU has only lost twice. Moreover, the EMU forensics team is the only program in the country to place in the top ten of the National Forensics Association tournament every year since it began.
Despite having an elite forensics team, most EMU students are unaware it even exists. But EMU sports teams—dare I say, losing sports teams—get more coverage from the community.
Forensics is not the dramatic science dealing with dead bodies and blood patterns that you see on television shows like “CSI.” Forensics is speech and debate. The forensics team competes in events that have defined rules. The events are categorized in three different genres: limited preparation, public address and interpretation. Thus, performances can range from a memorized speech to an acted-out monologue.
Yet forensics isn’t just fun—though it is plenty of fun. The National Forensic League, with a membership of more than 120,000 students nationwide, reported that students who participate in forensics boast honed critical thinking skills, increased emotional competence, receive unique benefits for gifted and at-risk students, achieve higher performance on standardized tests, improved graduation and retention rates and improved research skills. Additionally, more than $200,000 in college scholarships is awarded as a direct result of forensics alone.
The “on paper” benefits of forensics are unparalleled. Forensics’ impact on my own life has been unmatched. I actually came to EMU because I wanted to compete for its storied forensics team. I owe my best friends, future career path and academic success to forensics.
Clearly, EMU’s prestigious forensics team is often overlooked. I find this deeply disappointing on a personal level because it is easily one of the most successful programs at the university.
I encourage anyone interested in various types of performance to get involved with it. Not only does it have all the aforementioned benefits, but you can also find a great group of friends, create lifelong memories and develop a network of talented, sophisticated colleagues.
I understand that certain team activities are more “exciting” than others, but showering praise on athletic ability while turning a blind eye to other skill sets is indicative of a culture that prioritizes the ability to throw a ball over the ability to formulate coherent arguments and demonstrate emotional intelligence.
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