The award winning City College Forensics Debate Team held an afternoon “Speech Slam” May 9 to an audience of roughly 100 students.
The speech and debate team held a parliamentary debate one room, while in a nearby room, six students gave speeches in four basic categories of impromptu, interpretation, limited preparation, a speech to entertain, as well as other speeches and prose. The audience was encouraged to vote for their favorite speakers of the afternoon.
Hosting the event was Nathan Steel, who has been with the class for two years and is now the co-director of the forensics debate team, with about 25 students enrolled this semester.
“We do really different things on the speech and debate team,” Steel said.
“If I try to simplify and talk about how it’s all connected, I would say it’s like argument, in debate, argument is obvious.”
“In limited preparation, you have a thesis statement where you’re making an argument, and then you’re supporting that,” Steel explains. “In impromptu you are doing it with whatever information is in your head.
“In interpretation, we’re taking literature, or often we have to abridge it and cut it down to ten minutes and that might mean eliminating characters, or eliminating some plot, but in that introduction we’re always making an argument for ‘here’s what the value is’, or ‘the purpose of this performance is’, and ‘here’s what we want the audience to learn from it.’”
Debate Team member Sergio Suhett recently won a bronze medal at the California State Championships this spring for impromptu speaking, an event sponsored by the California Community College Forensics Association.
Suhett has been on the speech and debate team for four semesters at City College and in that time has made great improvements to his public speaking while learning english as a second language.
“I’m from Brazil,” Suhett said. “Originally, my language is Portuguese, and that coupled with the fear of public speaking was a big, big challenge for me, but I really found that the speech and debate activities gave me an edge above a lot of other students through competition.”
City College student Kevin Dickens gave a dramatic interpretation speech and he said he performs mainly for personal enjoyment, not competition. He was inspired to join the team after last semesters big showdown at the Diego Rivera Theatre on the topic of the Student Success Task Force.
“After I saw it, I was like, this is something I can possibly do, and that inspired me to join,” Dickens said.
Kameron Burroughs, a member of the speech and debate team gave a very comedic speech to entertain the audience about “Memorial Diamonds,” which he described as a scientific process for creating diamonds from extreme high pressurization of a loved one’s ashes, creating a diamond one could wear for vanity and accessory.
“I really appreciate the incredible diversity that we have at City College and how that often pours over into our team,” Steel said.
“We’ve got students from the Second Chance Program, who are on parole. We’ve got students of all different races, ethnicities, and sexuality.”
The Forensics Debate Team will hold another “Speech Slam” on May 16, from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. in Rosenberg Library.
“I think that there is something for everybody,” Steel said. “Whether you’re totally scared of public speaking, the practice and the experience will help you get through that.”