Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 6, No. 1, December, 1999



Courtney, Lauren, Mario, Denice, Thad, and Natalie share good times.

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Nikki and Emily like Ricky at the Team Party (or is that mock Ricky ?)!

Prep Session Was Fun For All

               Whitman’s 1999-2000 season got off to a great start with another fabulous prep session.  While old friends got reacquainted, those new to the team were quick to find acceptance.   Ultimate Frisbee and volleyball games plus a team screening of the ever-popular movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in Kimball Theater facilitated the team’s camaraderie.

               But perhaps one of the most memorable parts of this year’s session was the food!  Brian Simmonds, Emily Cordo and Keola Whittaker were excellent chefs.  Former assistant David Kearney, visiting before he left for New York, liked the curry dish so much that he dreamt of it all night long.

               However, all the meals did not go off without problems.  The BBQ night had to be supplanted by pizza because Jim didn’t start the assembly of his new gas grill—specially purchased for the occasion—until about 45 minutes before it was scheduled to be used.  Gary and Geof eventually got the range assembled, but there were several “extra” pieces.  To our knowledge, the grill has yet to be used which is most likely a good thing.

Becky Galentine

               Becky Galentine fought cancer for several years before passing away late last May. Becky was an inspiration to our team and to the larger forensics community. She aggressively pushed our debaters to do more work, to argue more strongly, and to connect with judges in ways we hadn’t before. She was admired throughout the circuit, winning a coaching award at the Heart of America tournament and being the namesake of an award given by the CEDA national organization. She’ll be remembered by our team as a coach who cared and fought for what she thought was important: our debaters.

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Becky Galentine is shown here in 1997 when she took Sean Harris and Adam Symonds to the NDT.

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Bob Withycombe relaxes in his office. Bob continues to be a big supporter of the team.

Whitman Alone Atop the NFC

               With the first two Northwestern Forensic Conference designated tournaments already completed, Whitman has a comfortable lead over both PLU and Carroll.  PLU has amassed 214 points in the last two outings, and third place Carroll College has 167 points.  That leaves Whitman alone at the top of the rankings with 235 points.

               The NFC champion is determined by how well each team has done at the four designated tournaments each year.  To win, a school must be successful in debate and individual events since both count for points toward the trophy. 

               The season is still far from over, but if Whitman can build on its past achievements from this semester, it appears to have a favorable future.

Jim has a new Car?

               Not to be outdone by Dr. Withycombe’s new car, and deciding that he needs a little more prestige than his PhD was bringing, Jim also bought a new car.  His old Geo was traded in for a shiny new Chrysler after a student borrowed his car and had a most unfortunate accident.  Fortunately no one was injured, but when Jim returned from his trip to find the damage that others had wrought, he was less then pleased.

               Thankfully, Jim’s mood was satiated by the check from the insurance company as it enabled him to achieve his goal of climbing the social ladder by purchasing the Chrysler Concorde. However, he did opt out of the leather seat upgrade.

               As of yet, no one but Jim has been allowed to drive the precious new vehicle which is probably a good idea seeing that most of the mishaps in his old Prizm occurred when it was loaned out to others.

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Jim stands by his new car. No touchies!


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Geof opens his present at the holiday party.


The 1999-2000 Staff

Director of Forensics, James Hanson; Assistant Director of Forensics, J.P. Lacy; Assistant Director of Forensics, Geof Brodak; Assistant, Policy Debate, Adam Symonds; Assistant, Interpretation Events, Kevin Loomer; Student Assistant and Intramural Debate Coordinator, Abby St. Lawrence; Chair, Department of Rhetoric and Public Address, Robert M. Withycombe; President, Whitman College, Thomas E. Cronin


Those Quirky Coaches

               As with any group of people, the more time you spend around them, the more their true personal habits show through.  With the forensics team, this holds especially true.

               First, there is Jim.  He has a truly “unique” taste in music.  From ABBA to Elton John to Electric Light Orchestra, there are very few times a person could venture into his office without hearing some of the worst music of any decade.  But it is Jim’s driving that takes the cake.  He is the perfect get away driver.  This is because Jim can lose a tail like no one’s business.

               And then there is J.P.  The only thing that could rival his addiction to Quake III—which he searched Walla Walla for the day of its release—is his addiction to Nicorette gum.  He is never without it.  But atop Jeep’s list of quirks is the speed at which he goes through mice.  Hardly a month goes by that he does not return to the local Staples because “the old mouse is worn out.”

               Finally, there is Geof.  He still has yet to confront the fact that it is not other people that make his desk a total mess, at least if his apartment is any indication.  But his ability to waste time truly makes him unique.  With Geof, procrastination is given a whole new definition.  If it could possibly be put off till a little later, Geof will find a way.  Then, he will be give you a very rational reason, in true parli form.

               The three coaches are some of the most divergent individuals imaginable.   But somehow they can still keep the team together, which is a mystery for another day because it is not all together clear how they keep their own lives from falling to pieces.


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JP and Jessica enjoy the holiday party but they disagree on US sanctions policy toward Iraq. With whom do you agree?


28 Fall Competitors

“We’ve had 12 to 13 debate teams throughout the fall. We have one of the biggest regularly traveling squads ever.” Jim


Competitors, Whitman Forensics, Fall 1999; Brant Olson, Brian Danielson, Brian Simmonds, Brian Ward, Charles Olney, Courtney Gardner, Denice Kelley, Emily Cordo, Gabe McGuire, Gary VanDenBerg, Ian Danforth, Jenny Burgess, Jessica Clarke, Kelly Schultz, Keola Whittaker, Lauren Ritter, Mario Cava, Mark Lanning, Meredith Johnson, Natalie Havlina, Nicholas Thomas, Noa Piper, Richard Detheridge, Scott Daniel, Thad Blank, Todd Borden, Tony Torres, and Wanjiru Kamau.

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Charles, Brian, and Brant smile as Jim shows off the pajamas he received as a gift at the holiday party.

Opposing Views On US Sanctions on Iraq

A Reason To Lift The Sanctions (Jessica’s position)

The United States attempts to justify its foreign policy toward Iraq by arguing that Saddam Hussein needs to be stopped because of his previous human rights record and his tendency toward international belligerence.  However, nine years of sanctions have been entirely ineffective in making Saddam toe the international line.  Instead, millions of innocent Iraqi citizen are relegated to poverty and famine like conditions because our sanctions regime prevents international goods from entering the country.  As many as 7,000 children die every month as a direct result of US foreign policy.

Some have touted the “oil for food” program as a way to mitigate the damage wrought upon these innocents.  However, this program is not dealing with the problem. It is not sufficiently funded, and Iraq’s ability to pump oil is significantly hampered by its inability to repair its oil pumps and refineries because the sanctions prevent spare parts from entering.  Additionally, Iraq cannot repair the damage its infrastructure suffered during the Gulf War because the sanctions block needed supplies.  Even with a more effective “oil for food” program, more people would not get food simply because there is no way to get it to them.

Thus, the US must lift the sanctions as soon as possible.  Whatever our feelings are toward Saddam, that is not a reason to withhold food from hundreds of thousands of innocent people.  If the US were to reverse its stance on Iraq, food and technology to repair the country would flow in while international support for our policy toward Iraq would increase from its wavering current status.  And maybe Iraq would be more willing to work with the international community when we stop shunning it and start embracing it.

A Reason To Keep The Sanctions In Place (J.P.’s position)

The plight of hungry children is a horrible thing and should not be ignored.  But what many don’t realize is that people would still starve if the sanctions were lifted.  The reason is simple:  Saddam has no interest in feeding his people or helping others do it for him.  The best examples of this are the massive palaces he has built for his cadre of supporters in the recent years, all the while telling the world that Iraq was too poor to feed its people.  And little would change if the sanctions were lifted.

Since Saddam’s grip of the country is absolute, he would be the only one to benefit.  If the sanctions were lifted, Saddam would be under no obligation to buy food or repair the infrastructure.  He would, however, have the money to repair his military and to build up his weapons of mass destruction programs.

Clearly, “oil for food” is not a perfect program, but at least it gets food into the country and not the technology that will allow Saddam to increase his military power even more.  The international community and the United States should do what it can to help the people that Saddam won’t.  Let’s make sure that the international aid helps the people who really need it, not Saddam’s military.

Nationally Honored IM Debate Season Starts Up Again

               This season of Intramural Debate continues its history of excellence. Sean Collins has won the experienced division both times this semester and is well on his way to sweeping the season.  But Akshay Garg, Sean Butler, and Tony Torres are all prepared to stop him since they too have qualified for the championship tournament.

               In the inexperienced division the competition is especially fierce.  At the first tournament, David Messer took first; Amy Benton took second; and Tom Luce, Helena Durst, Melissa Orsan, and Nathan Manni tied for third. At the second fall tournament, Rachel Dryden and Becky Thiebes tied for first place honors and Peter Lewicki, Max Wall and Nathan Manni all tied for third.

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Thad Blank gets some shuteye in one of the prep rooms—a popular practice on the team.

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Sean Collins has won the IM experienced division both times this fall!

Hey—Are you getting enough sleep?

               The Pioneer, way back in 1932, wrote an article about the debaters’ work ethic.  It described how, long after the campus shut down, debaters worked into the night getting ready for their next contest.  It would seem, however, that this year’s squad has taken that tendency to an entirely new level. 

               Now debaters are often seen well into the night, and even the next morning!  Some have even taken up the habit of sleeping in the debate offices instead of going home to their dorms.  And if you couldn’t imagine something more extreme, consider the case of Charles Olney.  He has brought in a foam mat and a sleeping bag so that he can rest even more easily.  According to him, this makes sense because “I could go home, but sleeping here is more efficient.”  Apparently, cutting cards has truly been taken to a new level.  Thad Blank, Emily Cordo, Nicholas Thomas, Jessica Clarke, and others are doing it too. The students of the 30s would certainly be proud.

Party Review – The Holiday Blow Out

               The annual holiday party was not entirely characterized by the sprit of giving this year.  At the white elephant exchange, teammates took gifts from each other to get exactly what they wanted.  As a result, some of the most popular items switched hands several times.  Among the list of most desired gifts by competitors and coaches alike were a Quake doll, a Star Wars Legos set, and a “large” squirt gun.

               However, the desire for material things was not the only thing that drew the team together. The promise of some great food also enticed team members.  There was a wide assortment of chips, dips, and tasty beverages but it was Jim’s grilled prawns that stole the show.

               In true holiday form, there was an exceedingly jovial atmosphere simply because this was the last chance for the whole team to be together before this semester ends.   Enthusiasm and camaraderie dominated the evening.  There is just something about this time of year that makes people take stock in what is really important.  The team showed their appreciation by giving each coach a gift.

Description: holiday party team The team gathered at Jim’s place for holiday spirits. Peeking out of the tree at the left is Todd Borden, followed by Charles, J.P., Nicholas, Courtney, Lauren, Mario, Thad, Keola, and Scott.

An Argument For Trans-racial Adoptions

Prepared by Denice Kelley and based on her persuasive speech

America has a fear of multi-racial families that is keeping children from being adopted by families of a different race.  The child welfare system encompasses over 500,000 children, 60% of which are minorities.  However the number of trans-racial adoptions has dwindled to less than 1,000 a year, leaving hundreds of thousands of minority children parentless.  The courts and social workers have perpetuated this problem by ruling against trans-racial adoptions and instituting state adoption laws that support race matching.

The cause of this fear of multi-racial families was started when the National Association of Black Social Workers wrote a position paper against trans-racial adoption.  They believed that trans-racial adoption would cause black children to lose their racial identity.  These fears have grown and become the direct cause of the negative attitude towards trans-racial adoption.  

However, there is a solution.  Currently, adoption advocacy groups, such as the New York State's Citizen's Coalition for Children are working on convincing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to act by withholding federal funds from states that have race-matching policies.  By joining these advocacy groups and raising our voices collectively we can start to alleviate this fear of multi-racial families, giving children the home they need.

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Denice Kelley is competing with a persuasive speech to promote trans-racial adoptions. What’s your opinion?


Withycombe and Walker Funds Contributions

Thanks for your contributions to these speech and funds! Generous donors since June 1, 1999 include: Jennifer Becker (’94), Andy Backlund (’96), R. Paul Beveridge (’83), Kelly Cleman (’87), Mathew Cleman (’87), Beverly Hanson, Robert Hanson, Lysle Wilhelmi (’84), Robert Withycombe, John Miller (’70), Brent Northup (’68), Sue Northup (’68), and Steve Rowe (’96).

Contributions to the Walker Fund or the Withycombe Fund should be sent to:

               Annual Fund Office

               Whitman College

               Walla Walla WA 99362

Checks should be made out to Whitman College with a note that says to place the contribution into the Walker or Withycombe Fund.

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Alum picture from ’94: Kristofer Peterson, Loan Lam, and Nicole Levin (Matarelli).

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Emily Cordo and Courtney Gardner share good moments at the Lewis and Clark tournament.

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Jenni Burgess has been a big winner in individual events—winning three first places!

The Team Continues Its Winning Tradition

               Without a doubt, it is hard to top the 1999 CEDA National Championship that Jessica and Adam won but this year’s debaters are sure giving it a try.  Led by strong returning competitors, Whitman debate is cleaning up in not only policy, but in parli and LD and individual events too. Big winners include the awards listed below:

POLICY: The Policy squad has already seen many successes and its depth is beginning to show including first place showings at the Western Scrimmage and the University of Oregon by Jessica Clarke and Charles Olney, as well as Brian Ward and Keola Whittaker and Scott Daniel and Nicholas Thomas at Oregon.

NFA LD: Our NFA LD debaters, Brian Simmonds and Brant Olson, were the runner up and fifth place winner at the Air Force tournament.  Not too bad for their first time out.

PARLI: The season started off with a bang with Todd Borden and Gabe McGuire’s second place finish at Lewis & Clarke and Jenni Burgess’ top place speaker award.  Denice Kelley and Mark Lanning won the novice division and Ian Danforth was junior division best speaker at the University of Oregon.

INDIVIDUAL EVENTS: Whitman has done extremely well; bringing home twenty awards including six first place finishes!  Lead by newcomer Jenni Burgess—who twice won senior impromptu—Whitman has made its presence felt in limited prep events. In Impromptu, the trio of Mark Lanning, Gabe McGuire, and Jenni Burgess won all three divisions at Lewis & Clark. At the University of Oregon, Brian Danielson improved upon his finalist award and took second in junior impromptu followed by Mark Lanning in third. Extemporaneous speaking is also a good event for Whitman.  At Lewis & Clark, Gary VanDenBerg was the junior champion, and Meredith Johnson and Courtney Gardner took the top two slots in novice respectively.

Policy Awards

Overall 1st, Western Scrimmage; 2nd, Lewis and Clark; 1st, U. Oregon

Jessica Clarke and Charles Olney

1st, Western Scrimmage; 2nd, Lewis & Clark; 1st, U. Oregon; 17th, Wake Forest

Courtney Gardner and Emily Cordo

5th, Lewis and Clark; 5th, U. Oregon

Brian Simmonds and Thad Blank

5th, Western Scrimmage, 5th, U. Oregon

Nicholas Thomas and Scott Daniel

1st, U. Oregon

Keola Whittaker and Brian Ward

5th, Lewis and Clark; 1st, U Oregon

Parli Awards

Overall 2nd, Lewis & Clark

Brant Olson and Jenni Burgess: 9th, Lewis & Clark; 9th, U. Oregon

Gary VanDenBerg and Brian Danielson: 9th, U. Oregon

Todd Borden and Gabe McGuire: 2nd, Lewis and Clark

Denice Kelley and Mark Lanning: 1st, U. Oregon

Brant Olson and Maggie Malone: 9th, Air Force

Individual Events Awards

Brian Danielson: Junior Impromptu: Finalist, Lewis and Clark, 2nd, U. Oregon

Brian Simmonds: NFA LD, 2nd, Air Force

Brant Olson: NFA LD, 5th, Air Force

Courtney Gardner: Novice Extemp, 2nd, Lewis and Clark

Gabe McGuire: Junior Extemp, 3rd, Lewis and Clark; Junior Impromptu: 1st, Lewis and Clark

Gary VanDenBerg: Junior Extemp: 1st, Lewis & Clark; Finalist, U. Oregon

Ian Danforth: Junior Impromptu, 3rd, U. Oregon

Jenni Burgess: Senior Impromptu, 1st, U. Oregon and Lewis and Clark, and Senior Extemp, Finalist, Lewis and Clark; 1st, U. Oregon

Mark Lanning: Novice Impromptu, 1st, Lewis and Clark; 3rd, U. Oregon

Meredith Johnson: Novice Extemp, 1st, Lewis and Clark

Natalie Havlina: Novice Extemp, Finalist, U. Oregon

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Jenni, Richard, Mark, and Ian show off their gifts from the holiday party.

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Gabe studies while at the University of Oregon tournament. You can see Todd, Natalie, Ian, Denice, Brian, and Gary in the background.