Students speak out for Forensics

Aaron Mudd

Students of the WKU forensics team stirred the audience to laughter during their pre-national showcase Saturday in the Downing Student Union Auditorium. Students spoke about cultural and political issues in their speeches, ranging across many forensic genres such as impromptu, literary interpretation, informative and persuasive speeches. 

Forensics Director Jace Lux said the showcase allows students to clear up misconceptions about forensics and prepare for the national tournament next week. 

“Some people still think it’s crime scene investigation,” Lux said. “We like to have an opportunity for professors and community members to be able to see what the forensics students that they have in class actually do when they’re competing. And also it’s kind of our last opportunity for our students to perform in front of a large audience and get that feedback prior to leaving for the national tournament.”

Hodgenville senior Ellis Fraser opened Saturday night’s performances with an impromptu speech. Fraser had just seven minutes to prepare and deliver his speech based on a quotation from Samuel Johnson, an English writer. In his speech, Fraser cited the U.S. government’s plan to nuke the moon in order to foster support for the Cold War in order to illustrate the quotation.

“An outlandish and crazy idea, so when the plan was brought forth to President Kennedy he rejected the notion,” Fraser said. “As most presidents probably would.”

Fraser argued that President John F. Kennedy’s refusal was motivated by his strong morality, tying the whole story into the quotation. 

“It’s this idea of John F. Kennedy using his morality to create his success as president that leads to today’s quotation from Samuel Johnson, ‘No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous,’” Fraser said. “Basically, what we can take from today’s quotation is that morality creates our successes.”

Other students explored contemporary societal and political problems through their speeches. Senior Nick Gilyard from Miami Gardens, Fla., and junior Ray Roberts, from Houston, Texas, gave a literary interpretation relating to the death of Trayvon Martin. Other subjects included an informative speech about group doctor visits for chronic patients and a debate about reforming education standards in juvenile detention centers. 


Gilyard and Roberts used characters in their speeches. Senior Tyler Rife from Dayton, Ohio, portrayed a hyper-reactive dog in his interpretation of a poem entitled “After I was Thrown Into the River and Before I Drowned” by Dave Eggers. 

Playing the character of a terrified white woman, St. Paul, Minn., senior Lindsey White acted out a satirical Funny or Die sketch called the White Women’s Workout. White raced around the stage with a death-grip on her purse fleeing a stereotypical black purse-snatcher. 

“Not today, black man,” White said. “Not today!”

Senior Marshall Covert from St. Paul, Minn., concluded the performances with a speech about good research methods and how students should look for the best sources, not just the most recent. 

“Can you imagine if chemists only based their research off of recent newspaper headlines?” he said. “We would all have the best meth.” 

Sarah Brazier attended the showcase as a WKU alumna. Brazier was also on the forensics team when she was a student at WKU. Brazier said Lataya Williams’ speech really stood out to her. Williams, a sophomore from Falcon Heights, Minn., saw the Greek monster Medusa as a victim of rape-culture. 

“I think everything performed today was really important,” Brazier said. “But something about her just really captured me.”

Just two weeks prior to their showcase, students competed in the International Forensic Association tournament in Paris, France. Covert was in Paris when the team was named world champion for the tenth time. 

“It’s always fun to go to places that are different culturally than what you’re used to, especially being there with people that you love,” Covert said. “The community and the team that I’m on is just so great.”