Forensics team reborn

TALK After 18-year hiatus, UND forensics team returns to compete in speech-based competition.

Kasie Watkins (second from right) address the Forensics Team during the group’s first practice last weekend. Photo by Chester Beltowski.

It’s a battle of wits, confidence and rapid-fire comments. UND’s forensics team prides itself on its abilities in these areas.

Forensics comes from the Latin word “forensis,” which means “in open court or forum.” In layman’s terms, the group is a speech and debate team (not to be mistaken for the Forensic Science Club that focuses on criminology).

A comeback

The last appearance of a forensics team on UND’s campus was in 1995. Numbers in membership were not high enough to support this type of team on campus until now. This year will mark the first full year of the emergence of the team on campus, according to the team’s graduate student advisor, Kiley Wright.

“I was really disappointed to find that UND did not have a forensics team,” Wright said. “As a communications student, I was really looking forward to the opportunity to work with this team, so I began looking for anyone else who was interested in participating in the team.”

That is when Wright found LaRoyce Batchelor, a professor in the entrepreneurship department with a passion for creativity and innovation in language.

Wright and Batchelor co-founded the reemergence of the forensics team, with Batchelor as the faculty advisor and Wright as a graduate student advisor. They are looking for members who want to increase their abilities of communicating effectively.

“I was so interested in forming this team because of my time spent on at team at the college I completed my undergrad at,” Wright said. “Being a part of the team helped me gain confidence and see what the art of communication really is.”

The team

The forensics team has plans to travel and compete in speech competitions amongst other universities.

There are a variety of areas of competition available for the members of the team. Popular categories of competition include prose and poetry reading, as well as impromptu speech.

The category that allows for the most diverse topics for this competition is the “after dinner speech.” In this match, competitors give a humorous speech on a serious topic that can range from any aspects of current events. The speech is judged on the good taste of the humor and the ability of the scenario to be conversational rather than a string of jokes.

The team at UND consists of four to six members who are building their strengths in communication.

“The team is a great way to boost confidence and build that resume,” Wright said. “Don’t forget that it is a chance to meet new people, not just from your school but other universities as well.”

Wright takes pride in knowing she was a part of rebuilding the team on campus and having a great start of the year so far.

The forensics team has open membership and meets every Friday at 8 a.m. in O’Kelly Hall room 313.

Erin Cheever is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at