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WKU Forensics introduces team at performance showcase

Ian Pitchford
Christian Butterfield, a junior creative writing and international affairs major, prepares his 5 minute impromptu speech on a topic he was given moments before, during the Forensics Meet The Team Showcase at the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center Recital Hall.

Students represented each of the four WKU Forensics classes with performances inside the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center Recital Hall on Nov. 9 for the team’s first showcase of the semester.  

“I should not have to tell you that silencing voices is wrong,” Kirsten Eversmann, sophomore sociology and criminology major and ASL and musical theater minor said in her public address. “Just because I have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you have to yell at me.” 

Eversmann’s “after dinner speaking” performance, or ADS, discussed voice bias.  

“Women are sometimes silenced because of the Hertz range that their voice sits at,” Eversmann said.  

To her, however, the topic has another facet, “I have hearing loss in my right ear, so coming into the season, I knew I wanted to do something about my hearing to bring more awareness to it, and my coach gave me this idea,” Eversmann said. “When I picked it, I knew it was going to be complex, but it was definitely worth all of it.”  

ADS performances bridge the gap between important topics and humor. Eversmann said because jokes “don’t always come to you just then and there,” it took her a month to get the address ready. 

Eversmann said she did speech throughout her high school career but was not sure whether she wanted to continue with it in college. A friend’s tip to consider WKU Forensics, she said, changed her mind.

Kirsten Eversmann, a sophomore criminology and sociology major, performs an “after dinner speech” in which she gives a comedic informative speech about women’s voices and silencing them, during the Forensics Meet The Team Showcase at the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center Recital Hall. (Ian Pitchford)

“I found a home here,” Eversmann said. “I really like the people on this team,” Eversmann said. She represented the WKU Forensics Class of 2026.  

In the same year as Eversmann, Rae Fournier and Chase Shockley. Shockley is a freshman double majoring in philosophy and history, and Fournier is an international affairs major. In his speech, Fournier discussed nuclear weapons and whether the United States should adopt a No First Use policy, which would prevent the country from using nuclear weapons first.  

Fournier said when preparing for a tournament, he puts in at least a few hours a week for research and practice, but the amount of time and effort grows with approaching performances. He said he began working on his arguments for the debate on the use of nuclear weapons in July this year.  

Antonina Clementi is a junior political science major. Clementi has been on the WKU Forensics team since her freshman year, although she became involved with speech and debate back in Lafayette, Louisiana, where she went to high school.  

Before the evening began, Clementi and a few other forensics members were giving out QR codes that directed audience members to a Google document with Fournier’s speech. Green highlighter marked Fournier’s main points inside the file. Because of the debate’s nature, Fournier said, there is “an incentive to make as many arguments as possible by reading very quickly.” Looking at the document, he said, is supposed to help audience members follow along.

Other performances from the showcase included Jacob Holbrook’s speech about grooming accusations against the LGBTQ+ community, Mauricio Patino’s interpretation of Hot Cheetos’ origin story and Danielle Williams’s poetry interpretation about Black women and suicide.  

In her speech, Williams, who is a junior psychological sciences major, argued against the notion that systematic oppression of Black women cultivated their resilience and made them “statistically immune to suicide.” 

“The unfortunate truth [is that] the Black suicide paradox is a statistical myth,” Williams said, referring to the statistics provided by The Nation – suicide death rates among teenage Black girls have increased by 182%, according to the magazine.  

Williams dedicated her speech to her cousin and cut her performance short to remind the audience to “keep fighting,” especially for those “who cannot fight for themselves.” 

“I hope you guys continue to love on yourselves and love on others because life is too short not to,” Williams said. 

In between Eversmann and Williams’ performances that were both prepared in advance, Christian Butterfield, a creative writing and international affairs junior, gave an impromptu speech in response to a quote chosen by an audience member. The quote by Kobe Bryant read: “These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess.”  

Butterfield had 15 seconds to read the quote and around a minute to come up with his speech. He ended up arguing that the quote is an example of overvaluing hard work, which bears negative consequences. For one, Butterfield said, it prevents people from making change.  

“Please, if you ever meet me in real life, never ever ask me to play chess,” Butterfield concluded.

Jacob Holbrook, a freshman theatre major, performs a rhetoric about homophobia and the LGBT+ community during the Forensics Meet The Team Showcase at the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center Recital Hall. (Ian Pitchord)

Butterfield said that to get ready for such impromptu speeches, he constantly thinks of different theories or life examples that might be useful in a debate.  

“I tend to talk a lot about disability justice and neurodivergence in my speeches. I can give impromptu speeches where I can connect those themes to a whole bunch of quotes, I can give prepared speeches that have direct advocacy, and I can advocate for that stuff through interpretation events or acting,” Butterfield said.  

Jakayla Brown introduced all of the performers in the showcase. She said she hopes the event helped students get to know the Forensics team and inspired them.  

“I really hope that the people who came saw what we are doing and will take it to their everyday lives to speak out about their social issues and things that they think are important because everybody’s voice matters,” Brown said.  

News Reporter Mariia Novoselia can be reached at [email protected]


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