Housed within the communication department is a legacy program as old as Missouri State. The Spicer Debate Forum, which was renamed after former coach and National Debate Tournament Champion Holt V. Spicer, began in 1905 and has transformed over the years. Something that hasn’t changed is the presence of current Director of Forensics Dr. Eric Morris. Morris was a part of the team as an undergraduate debater in the 1980s, worked as assistant coach for six years in the 1990s, and was promoted to his current position in 2003. He mentioned that “debate changes dramatically every few years. The arguments evolve even faster than the technology. It is still a lot more similar from 2003 to 2020 than if you compare to when debate started in 1905 to now.”
The current season has been quite different from years prior. The debate team typically competes in a number of tournaments on the regional and national levels nearly every weekend from August to April. In-person tournaments have now been swapped for online events, leaving less room for networking and social opportunities. The substitution has been a good way to keep students engaged, and Morris adds that “I am saving hundreds of hours of drive time this year, so that’s nice.”
Students of all majors and levels of experience are welcome to join the Spicer Debate Forum. Prospective members start out by taking “COM 321 Inter-Collegiate Debating” but are not required to compete to pass the class. In addition to the team’s decorated past, debaters stay with the team because they can build listening, research, critical thinking, speaking, and strategy skills. Interested students should visit the Holt V. Spicer Debate Forum’s webpage or email Dr. Morris.
“Most of our debaters find the discussion of ideas exciting and fun, and make good friends while doing it!” – Dr. Eric Morris