In addition to its athletic teams, Boise State houses a comprehensive forensics program. The program has always been an important institution for the university. Many past members of the BSU speech and debate team have utilized their forensic skills in their careers post-graduation. For example, Bethine and Frank Church, Christopher G. Bragg, and Gaylen Worthen are all notable past members of Boise State University’s forensics program.
Boise State’s forensics program came into existence in 1937. The college was known as Boise Junior College at the time, and the first president – Eugene Chaffee – became the first director of forensics. The program has existed and been active since its conception – with the one exception of World War II, where the program was suspended but brought back in the early 1950’s.
The young BJC forensics team mostly competed in speech events and a type of rudimentary policy debate. BJC’s forensics team was affiliated with Phi Rho Pi. Phi Rho Pi is a forensics honorary targeted specifically at junior and community colleges. BSU forensics program shed its Phi Rho Pi affiliation after the college became a full-fledged university.
The forensics program currently has many national affiliations that govern its competition calendar. For example: Pi Kappa Delta, Northwest Forensics Conference, National Individual-Events Tournament, National Parliamentary Debate Association, International Public Debate Association.
Pi Kappa Delta is the oldest forensics honorary. Currently it has 200 active chapters and over 60,000 members have been initiated into the honorary. Pi Kappa Delta offers a national tournament and convention biennially. This tournament offers 15 individual events and five formats of debate. Boise State has won this tournament twice – once in 2005 and once in 2011. The 100th year anniversary of the Pi Kappa Delta tournament and convention will be hosted this year – 2013 – in St. Louis, Missouri at Webster University.
The Northwest Forensics Conference or NFC is the comprehensive forensics organization for schools competing in the Pacific Northwest. The NFC is divided into three categories: Division 1, Division 2, and Division 3. Division 1 is for four year schools that attend eight or more tournaments a year. Division 2 is for four year schools that attend less than eight tournaments a year. Division 3 is for junior and community colleges. The NFC is determined by three designated tournaments held throughout the competitive year. Boise State competes in Division 1 among other successful programs in the Pacific Northwest such as: Carroll College (Helena, Mont.), Whitman College (Walla Walla, Wash.) and University of Oregon (Eugene, Ore.). Boise State has consistently finished in the top – first place or “gold” program – for the past two decades.
Additionally, the Talkin’ Broncos compete in national tournaments for specific events. For example, the NIET or National Individual Events Tournament is an exclusive speech only tournament, which competitors must qualify for. Or the NPDA – National Parliamentary Debate Association – hosts a national tournament designated for only parliamentary debate. The International Public Debate Association – IPDA – hosts a national tournament where the sweepstakes are determined throughout the year, as well as, the annual tournament. The last two years BSU has placed in the top five, without even attending the tournament. BSU has recently competed at the international worlds tournaments for British Parliamentary debate which hosted 5+ schools from other countries. Nonetheless, the BSU forensics program is unique, in that it competes in more than one format of debate and speech.
BSU speech and debate maintains a tradition of competitive success. Team members must maintain a 3.0 GPA. And the program has housed majors from all over the university, such as, International Business, Political Science, Communication, Criminal Justice, Education and Philosophy. The current Director of Forensics is Manda Hicks. She is supported by the Assistant Director of Forensics Norell Conroy and the countless Talkin’ Bronco alumni who continue to be a vital part of the tradition of competitive success.