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Thursday, December 05, 2013 - OU forensics team members among best in the U.S.
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

Thanks to strong showings in regional competition, several members of Oakland University’s forensics team recently won the chance to compete on the national stage.

During the past month, the team participated at two events, with members qualifying for national competition in multiple categories. Jeffrey Butts qualified with a third-place ranking in poetry interpretation, while Steve Killius and Max Sarvello advanced with first- and second-place finishes in prose interpretation.

In forensics competition, students take part in a variety of events in the areas of public speaking, reading, acting and interpretation. Butts, a senior communication major, serves as president of OU’s forensics team and describes the competition as a “marathon,” in which events are held in rapid succession with little break in between.

“Each category has two rounds, each with one judge,” he explained. “From there, they narrow the category down to the top six scores, and those six competitors are sent to the final round. The top overall winners in each category qualify for nationals.”

During the last two regionals events, Oakland’s forensics team competed against highly rated institutions. The first event, titled “Perfect Pairs,” took place in Mount Pleasant and was jointly hosted by Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan. It featured forensics teams from Northwestern University, Bradley University, Eastern Michigan University and Illinois State University. The second tournament, “Birds of a Feather,” was hosted by Bowling Green State University in Ohio and drew teams from the University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University and Butler University.

“The team has really enhanced my school experience and has brought a deeper social level to my education,” said Butts, who has been involved in forensics since high school. “It's a lot more fun. Before the forensics team, college was simply a chore. Now, I'm invested in the university itself, which definitely gives a sense of pride.”

Charles Rinehart, faculty director of the OU forensics team, has high hopes for the entire group.

“As a team, we have about five or six competitions prior to nationals, so hopefully all students can advance,” he said, special lecturer in Communication and Journalism. “The team is practicing hard and learning a lot, and that is all I can really ask for.”

The members are currently preparing for their next tournament, which will take place at Wayne State University on Saturday, Dec. 14.

“We hope to use the experience gained from earlier tournaments to make a big splash there,” Rinehart added. “The plan is to have our full team with all events that students have been preparing for since September.”

The national competition is slated for April 2014. Oakland’s forensic team meets on Tuesday evenings from 5-7 p.m. in the Oakland Center. To learn more, contact Rinehart at rinehart@oakland.edu.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with more than 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.