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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Speech and debate team trounces competition at states

The speech and debate team took home eight first place trophies. (Photo courtesy of John Boyer)

Last weekend, members of Lafayette’s speech and debate team earned a plethora of first-place finishes at the Pennsylvania Forensics Association (PFA) state tournament hosted at Lafayette.

This marks the fifth year in a row that the team emerged victorious from this competition.

Shirley Liu ’23, the speech team’s captain, finished first overall in the tournament and racked up first-place awards in rhetorical criticism, persuasion and duo interpretation.

In the rhetorical criticism category, in which students analyze and interpret a communication artifact, Liu discusses Edward Blum, the man behind Students for Fair Admissions, an anti-affirmative action group that sued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina in 2018 for discrimination against Asian students.

“My rhetorical criticism is how he’s weaponizing Asian Americans to try to get rid of affirmative action,” Liu said.

“I really love that speech,” Liu continued. “I’m really excited to bring it to national tournaments.”

In the persuasive speaking event, Liu discussed the current librarian shortage across the country and how to remedy it.

“Persuasive speaking at states is really special because the top two speakers get to move on to a special tournament called IOA, or Interstate Oratory Association tournament,” Liu said.

Liu and Rebecca Koury ’25, who finished second in the category, will compete at IOA in April. Koury also placed first in informative speaking.

Finally, Liu finished first alongside Jefrey Alexander ’23 in duo interpretation, an event that pairs two students together to perform a piece of prose. Liu and Alexander, who are roommates, performed the story of two teenagers plagued by a fictional disease that causes them to explode if they get too close to another person with the disease.

Alexander also placed first in after-dinner speaking, a comedic speaking event. “The funny speech is about the most unfunny topic ever selected,” Alexander said. “It’s about states’ rights in the context of Dobbs v. Jackson. That’s what makes the speech so fun: you wouldn’t expect it to be funny.”

In her first year competing, Natalia Ferruggia ’26 also placed first in three events, earning the third position overall in the tournament.

Her first-place finishes came in prose interpretation, dramatic interpretation and program oral interpretation.

The first two focused on allegorical stories of domestic violence and abusive relationships.

Her program oral interpretation, which she described as a “mixed media” event, centered around the undervaluing of nurses in American society.

“It’s a collection of reflection pieces, prose pieces from different nurses, articles from the last couple of years and a couple of poems about the struggle of being in the medical profession,” Ferruggia said. “They’re all strung together to make a program about how we should appreciate nurses.”

Joshua Hale ’23, Liu and Benjamin Herman ’23 will be traveling to Tokyo to compete in the International Forensics Association tournament this spring. The team will also be competing in the national competition in Illinois in April.

Disclaimer: Managing Editor Shirley Liu ’23 and Assistant Culture Editor Natalia Ferruggia ’26 did not contribute writing or reporting.

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. In addition to the role of Editor-in-Chief, she is a Mentor Writing Associate for the College Writing Program, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, an EXCEL Scholar for the English Department, and co-founder and Vice President of the English Club. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. Her magnum opus is the Quent article of 2022 Scoffayette fame.

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