John R. Park Debate Society Recognized at the International Forensics Association Speech and Debate Tournament
The University of Utah's John R. Park Debate Society recently competed in the 31st International Speech & Debate Tournament hosted by the International Forensics Association. This year's competition was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions, but 37 universities and colleges still participated and competed in debate and public speaking events. "Part of the beauty of college forensics is getting to hear what other students are passionate about in their speeches, IFA finalist and Communication junior Grace Osusky said. "Even at virtual tournaments, the brief exchange of reassuring messages or positive comments about performances and topics make all the difference."
The John R. Park Debate Society won in several categories with Meredith Jenkins finishing 4th in Individual Public Debate, Jared Lange & Ryan Knippel placing 2nd in British Parliamentary Debate, Ryan Knippel winning After Dinner Speaking, and placing 2nd Overall in Team Sweepstakes. Knippel spoke on online political discourse in the After Dinner Speaking category, which is a topical speech event that uses humor to explore serious and important themes. "After two of the longest and most difficult semesters of my life, it was very satisfying to see the work I put in finally pay off in a meaningful way," Knippel said. "I actually turned 20 the weekend of IFA, so getting this win was a great birthday present!"
The International Forensics Association commended the John R. Parky Debate Society for their outstanding performance and work by Director of Forensics Michael Middleton and coaches Jason Jordan, Kensey Dressler, and Micah Huff who helped judged the debates and speeches. Assistant Coach Averie Vockel said, "We look forward to IFA every year because it is a great opportunity for students to interact with and hear from students from different regions than they are used to competing against." The debate team has been invited to next year's tournament, which will be held in Mexico City in March 2022.