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The cover of the spring/summer 2004 Issue of SFSU Magazine

 

SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer  2004, Volume 4, Number 1.

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Campus Beat LogoTwo debaters, Doug Mungin and Robert Hawkins, standing next to each other gesturing with their hands as they speak.

Big Talkers

This spring, SFSU's Speech and Debate Team proved that they are the best in the west, at the largest policy debate competition in the country.

In April, the team traveled to Louisville, Ky., for the Cross Examination Debate Association National Tournament, where they placed first for the western region in a competition based on their performances during the previous year. The SFSU debaters ranked 24th nationally, finishing ahead of such competitors as Stanford, Northwestern and Georgetown universities.

Later that month, at CSU Long Beach, juniors Doug Mungin and Robert Hawkins finished 12th nationally in duo interpretation at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament. Hawkins also placed fifth nationwide in poetry interpretation. Mungin came in 25th nationally in poetry and prose interpretation. Both were competing with debaters from 114 colleges and universities.

Assistant coach Marina Whitchurch, a grad student in speech communication, works with the team members to research topics, shape speeches, and practice and fine tune delivery. She says winning is not the only goal: "The competitors on SFSU's team are more concerned about the message of their programs: Are they socially significant? Will they be able to change someone's mind or teach their audience something?"

Hawkins and Mungin kept these kinds of questions in mind when they selected a scene from the Pulitzer Prize winning play, "Top Dog Underdog," for their duo interpretation. The play addresses the difficulties faced by African Americans throughout our nation's history.

Hawkins says that Whitchurch and head coach Shawn Whalen are largely responsible for the team's success. "They allow us to be ourselves, to explore any piece of literature," he says. "Coach Whalen and Marina -- they give us freedom and they let us venture off on our own."

The Northern California Forensics Association has taken note of the coaching methods, too. In May, the organization named Whitchurch coach of the year.

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