OU Forensics: Persuasion, beautiful and just

Posted by Janae Melvin on September 29, 2015 in and, Arts, Delta, Forensics, Kappa, of, Pi, School, Sciences Who wouldn’t want to be part of a lasting legacy?

In 1913, students from Ottawa University in collaboration with others from small colleges, founded Pi Kappa Delta, a forensics honorary society. The founding members used the first letters of the Greek phrase, Peitho Kale Dikaia, which means “the art of persuasion, beautiful and just.”

More than 100 years later, students meet as a group regularly with Ryan Louis, assistant professor of speech/forensics, who has been with the team since 2008 and now sits on the national council of Pi Kappa Delta. Because OU has a comprehensive forensics team, students participate in both debate and three genres of speech: interpretive, limited preparation events and platform events.

One event that is new to the college debate circuit is Public Forum, where debaters flip for a side to argue. Students must be fully prepared to argue either side. “I make them study both pro and con sides of the debate,” said Louis. “Some of my teams even write cases for the sides they do not normally agree with. This ensures that people see arguments logically and not simply based on their upbringing, gut or emotional connection to the topic.”

Interpretive speech expresses an argument by splicing together published works and sharing them orally. Limited preparation events require a cool head and the ability to think very quickly. Those who participate in impromptu speaking, a limited preparation event, draw a quotation when they enter the room and have seven minutes to completely prepare a speech and perform it! Finally, students can compete in a platform event, which are researched and memorized topical talks meant to persuade or inform an audience.

Each time a student competes, they learn ways to improve their communication skills and look forward to the next opportunity to grow.

“I am now working on improving my impromptu speaking abilities because although it’s always fun, I also enjoy representing OU at the best of my abilities,” said Ada Castro, junior communication major.

“I feel like forensics has helped me grow in a lot of ways,” said Corban Hickman, senior mathematics major. “Regardless of what career I choose, communication is a very important skill to have.”

The team competes all over the country and Pi Kappa Delta alumni are welcome to attend tournaments as judges or to simply meet with the students. Louis encourages interaction between his students and OU graduates.

“I like my students to see the legacy of forensics,” says Louis. “It connects the past to the present and helps shape their lives. Forensics teaches so many valuable life skills, and it is good for our students to see alumni succeeding outside of college.”

Recently it was announced that the national archives for Pi Kappa Delta will be housed in Gangwish Library, adding to the legacy that began a century ago.