Missouri Western’s Speech and Debate program’s success over the fall semester has shown that the university is competitive in the argumentative arts. Now, the program is seeking to use this success to help bring more students to the campus.
On Friday, Nov. 14, and Saturday, Nov. 15, Western hosted a Speech and Debate tournament for high school students from 24 different schools across four different states. The competing students came from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Despite nine schools canceling due to snow, Western still hosted over 300 students at the inaugural Golden Griffon Invitational.
Co-director of the Speech and Debate program Sohail Jouya, who is entering his second year at Western, was disappointed in the weather, but believes the tournament was still very successful.
“We had a ton of different students that were really impressed with the campus, really impressed with the organization and the program,” Jouya said. “We’re glad we had an opportunity to showcase the campus.”
The invitational featured 12 different areas of competitive speech and debate, including extemporaneous speaking, dramatic interpretation, Lincoln-Douglas debate and public forum.
Jouya explained that many of the competing schools showed talent at the invitational. Nixa High School, located near the Ozark’s in Missouri, won the overall sweepstakes trophy; Park Hill, located in the Kansas City Northland, took second; and Millard North, located in Omaha, Nebraska, did very well.
Chris Miles, who is currently ranked No. 16 in the country in parliamentary debate with his partner Mike Smith, explains that the Golden Griffon Invitational is not only a way to help out high school programs, but can also be used to expand Western’s.
“It’s one of our big outreach programs to help out local high schools around us, but we also use it as a recruitment tool so that people can see the campus,” Miles said.
Brent Rosenauer, Western student and debater who helped to run the invitational, agrees with Miles and believes that the tournament’s success will help to bring new students to campus.
“I think with every growing activity, especially something like debate, the more spotlight you get on successful events, the more people will be willing to come to Missouri Western,” Rosenauer said.
Jouya explained that many of the competing high schoolers were unaware of Western’s existence prior to the invitational.
“Some people don’t know that this hidden gem is here,” Jouya said. “The fact that we’re making it visible is very important and crucial.”
Jouya believes that the Golden Griffon Invitational will bring an “admissions bump” to the university, and explained that there have already been over 200 students who have expressed interest in debating for Missouri Western.