Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 7, No. 1, December, 2000



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This is the traveling team for 2000-2001

Whitman leads the NFC

            The NFC results are in for the fall semester and Whitman is on top.  With 208.1 official points, Whitman leads the Northwest.  Runners up are Boise State with 178.5 points and Carroll College with 168.7 points.

            Following last year’s win, the Whitman team continues its quality showings at every tournament.  With traditional strengths in policy and parliamentary debate, Whitman has shown growing success in individual events. Jim is very pleased. “Keep it up!”

Happy Holiday Party

            This year’s holiday party started off with stockings for each debater.  Jim provided a distraction in the way of fresh guacamole, hot bread, steak and prawns, and other goodies.  But when it came time for the white elephant gift giving, those skilled in negotiation took center stage, “I’ll give you two snickers for your Backstreet Boys postcard.”  By the end of the night, each gift had been taken the maximum number of times (except the mouthwash and stop snoring aids).  Most people went home happy and it was a good time spent together, sharing stories, laughter, and friendship.

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Charles shares Thad’s great joy with his holiday party gift: Scope mouthwash!

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Denice, Samantha, and Scott at Bob’s house.


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Mario and Bona enjoy the fun!

Should Whitman have an attendance policy?

            This fall the Whitman faculty considered requiring a fairly stringent attendance policy that would have hampered our finest competitors from attending nationally competitive tournaments.  Bob Withycombe and Jim Hanson argued against the policy by stressing the importance of coursework outside the traditional classroom and the fact that the affected students had GPAs that are much higher than the school average.  Support from other faculty led to an amended policy that gives flexibility for out-of-classroom experiences.  Here are some things students and alums had to say about the attendance policy; you can tell where team members stand on this issue. J

                        “The reason I wanted to come here rather than go to some science only school like MIT or CalTech is that I can debate here.  Rigid ‘educational’ environments actually smother education by limiting a student’s ability to educate her/himself through life experience.”  Scott Daniel, Sophomore

            “Is there anyone I can write to express my feelings on the new attendance policy?  Is there anyone who would care what an alum thinks on the issue?  Debate was by far the most educational thing I did at Whitman and it would be a shame to see it curtailed because of a policy trying to promote education.”  Steve Rowe, alumnus

            “Our group does 25 hours per week of unpaid academic work with just two credits and gets a higher GPA than the rest of campus. The faculty should not be singling out attendance.” Brian Simmonds, junior   

            “I have to say that the new attendance policy is not as bad as I thought it would be, but I still have major issues with having one in the first place.  There seem to be some contradictions within school ideology by instituting a policy such as this.  For instance, we choose to come to this school to get the most we want out of a liberal arts education, we are also paying extraordinary amounts of money so we can make that choice.  As adults entering the first stages of the ‘real world,’ having the responsibility to choose what you want to do with your life seems reasonable, even encouraged by the school.  However, when the school starts to make choices for you, the assurance that we are “adults” now starts to fade.  Instead we are told that when adults make decisions they should make the ‘correct’ ones and if they don’t, someone else will make those decisions for them.  In my opinion, this is bogus.  If the school wants to make decisions for us, then by all means do so, but tell us from the start that is how the school operates, instead of spouting off words like ‘responsibility’ and ‘choice’ and ‘adult.’”  Denice Kelley, Sophomore


The 2000-2001 Staff

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Director, Jim Hanson is caught eating KFC.     Assistant Director, JP Lacy describes tournament procedures.

Will someone help those people in that van?

            “I got blamed for killing the battery on the way to U of O.  I can’t say that I did it, but I can’t really deny it either, since I was sitting in the back of the van and I did have the light on at least part of the time...But running out of gas was KEOLA’S fault, not mine!!!” John Poor

            “I was driving along and suddenly the gas peddle did not make the van go.  I said “Jim . . . um . . . I think the van might be out of gas.”  I was worried we would be late for our rounds but it turned out okay after Jim called AAA.”  Keola Whittaker

            “It’s odd that the Whitman vans don’t come with jumper cables in them.  I hope they fix that, even if it means jacking up tuition.” Scott Daniel


Planned schedule               What really happened

2:00 Get the vans                   2:00 Jim calls rental company who tell him they

                                                            have no record of our van reservation

4:00 Pack vans                       2:05 Jim screams

                                                2:10 Jim tells JP he has to take care of this

                                                            because he (Jim) has to teach

                                                2:15 JP screams

                                                3:45 JP has solved the problem; we have vans

                                                4:00 Jim assesses the situation: one of the vans

4:30 Leave                                          is too small

                                                5:00 After working it out, team starts to leave ...

8:30 Arrive in Portland         5:10 Wait, we need to get sack dinners, gas,

                                                            snacks, & batteries for walkie-talkies

                                                6:10 Get on the Road

                                                8:05 One van won’t start at gas station

                                                10:15 Arrive in Portland


Hey, Who moved that?

            With the turn of the millennium approaching rapidly, the team has made some changes in their office spaces to make life a little more convenient.  Both prep rooms have added more computers and scanners.  The coaches and Julie moved their desks from a few feet to across the room.  Jim now has three more tables in his office, two for random stuff (like paperwork) and one for a few laptops (for student use).


Jim, An Associate Professor?

            Last semester faculty and the trustees created a Forensic track with voting and sabbatical privileges.  This semester Jim Hanson will be considered for an “upgrade” to Associate Professorship.  Jim, who’s been at Whitman for 8 and a half years, will be considered for this position based on his management of the team, management of budget, teaching skills, and service to team, forensics, and Whitman. Good luck Jim!

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Department Chair Bob Withycombe fends off Assistant Director Geof Brodak who is crazy about returning to the team. David Kearney served as assistant from August through November.

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Julie Miller takes over as student assistant and intramural debate coordinator. With Julie in the picture is Nick, her fiancé.


33 Competitors, Fall 2000: Aerin Orbits, Andi Lien, Brant Olson, Brian Danielson, Brian Ward, Charles Olney, Chris Gorman, Dani Boucher, Darrell Miller, David Guidry, Denice Kelley, Emily Cordo, Emily Marr, Gabe McGuire, John Poor, Keola Whittaker, Lauren Ritter, Leif Perkins, Mario Cava, Natalie Havlina, Natalie Sofia Mariona, Nathan Roller, Nicholas Thomas, Nicole Reynaud, Sam Spiegel, Samantha Howell, Scott Daniel, Stew Campbell, Thad Blank, Todd Borden, Tony Torres, Valbona Sherifi, Wanjiru Kamau.


Julie Miller: The New Abby

            Anyone who’s been around the speech team in the last couple of years no doubt remembers the team assistant, Abby St. Lawrence.  This year she’s gone on to grad school at Lewis and Clark and someone new has taken her place in Jim’s office.  This new person, Julie Miller, is about as different from Abby as can be.  Look at this comparison:


                                    Abby                                                  Julie

Major                          Psychology/ Philosophy                     English/ Theater

Musical Taste Janis Joplin, Melissa Ethridge         Barry Manilow, Jars of Clay

Hair                            Short                                                   Long

Relation to team        Older sister who likes to yell            Team mom who likes to

                                        at kids                                                 take care of people

Dressing up                Smart slacks, blouse              Flowy Dress

Summer activities     Army Corp of Engineers                    Sewing and Reading

School Activities        WCLU, SAPE                         IVCF, Ren Faire

Parties?                      I’m there!                                            I’d rather be at home

Persuasion                  Threats                                               Treats

Relation to Jim          The man needs help                           The man needs to relax

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Policy debaters: Front row (L to R): David Guidry, Samantha Howell, Keola Whittaker, Thad Blank, Lauren Ritter, Emily Cordo; Second Row: Emily Marr, John Poor, JP Lacy, Charles Olney, Nicholas Thomas, Scott Daniel, Stew Campbell, and Mario Cava. Not pictured: Brian Ward.

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Parliamentary debaters: Front row (L to R): Sam Spiegel, Natalie Havlina, Denice Kelley; Second row: Gabe McGuire, Brian Danielson, Darrell Miller, Chris Gorman, Bona Sherifi. Not pictured: Brant Olson, Dani Boucher, Todd Borden.

Focus on six new students

            Sam Spiegel is a frosh from Canada, spending his first year living in the U.S.A.  He is not yet accustomed to American debating style, but he is soaking up the experience and enjoys the camaraderie of the team.  He looks forward to future years of speech and debate and he hopes to become the first U.S. President who was born in Canada (he is presently trying to make that legal).  Sam plays tennis too.

            Darrell Miller is a hilarious guy who composes speeches on people who actually eat dirt.  Darrell has really tasted dirt before.  Darrell thinks soil has the potential to save starvation-ridden third world countries.  The only thing Darrell enjoys more than dirty discourse is talking about himself in the third person.

            Dani Boucher is finding her first year of debating at the college level to be most interesting. She is looking forward to committing to the team full-time spring semester, as it is a nice break from all the science/math classes she is taking! Dani hopes to complete an astronomy/chemistry combined major while at Whitman, and then go on to law school. She loves to debate and is extremely proud to be a member of the team.

            Samantha Howell is experiencing her first year on the Whitman Debate Team.  She debated four years in New England and enjoys the change of pace.  She is a frosh who expects to double major in politics and English. Her favorite part about being on the debate team is the friendly atmosphere and being able to make fun of Jim’s ABBA CD’s every day (even though she, herself, is a huge KISS fan).

            Stewart Campbell is a junior transfer student from North Idaho College, located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Unlike most of the Whitman team, Stew has no prior debate experience.  He decided to try out debate because he “wanted to try something new” and develop a stronger level of critical thought.  Stew participated in Policy Debate during the fall semester.  He was very pleased when he won 2nd place in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking at the Lewis and Clark tournament.

            John Poor wrote in to say: “I’m a first-year student at the College.  I’ve really enjoyed my experiences on the debate team thus far.  The traveling can be a pain, and the tournaments are stressful, but the team is wonderful and the competition is very rewarding.  To top it off, the coaches are terrific.  Jeep’s a riot and Jim is always helpful, even if he insults me all the time!  Seriously, though, I’m learning a lot about debate and life, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

Research, Research

            August 20-24 started the school year for the debate team.  A week without classes, it gave us a jump-start on research and general preparation.  Frosh were introduced to returning members, Whitman, and college debate.  Returning members reunited with friends.  The team raided the library, spent hours searching the net for info, and watched the movie, “Listen To Me,” one more time.

            The highlight of the week was a barbeque dinner with Politics Professor Bruce Magnusson, who talked with the policy debaters about Africa.  The biggest problem we faced during the prep session was the lack of Chinese food in town, as Jim’s two favorite places were closed for remodeling and a vacation. The team settled for more pizza.



            Running a tournament is hard work. The ballots, kids, and ideas floating around can cause quite a mess.  For the most part this year’s tournament ran smoothly despite some most memorable moments:

            High School Debater to Brant, “Are you Jim Hanson?”

            Coach to Ballot table, “I know this makes me sound stupid, but how do I get ice off my windshield?”

            High School Debater to Stew, ‘You look like one of the guys from Hanson.”

            Student complaint: “Basketball practice in the gym is interfering with debate rounds held on the balcony.” (Sorry!)

            And then there was the kid who managed to get up the climbing wall and couldn’t get down.  We called security, but when they showed up, he had “escaped” fearing he would get in trouble.


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Keola works with high school students at the Whitman National Debate Institute. Held this past summer, it drew students from throughout the Northwest and the nation!


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Keola and Todd spend time in Jim’s office.


Withycombe AND Walker Fund Contributions

We are grateful for your contributions to the forensic team! Generous donors since May, 2000 include: Jennifer L. Becker and Andy Backlund, the Boeing Company, Kelly and Mathew L. Cleman, Susan and Lloyd T. Danielson, Sean R. Harris, Microsoft Corporation, John R. Miller, Jason P. Smith, Drummond Kahn and Daphne Teals, and Robert M. Withycombe. If we missed you, please tell us because we do appreciate your support!

Send contributions to the Walker Fund or the Withycombe Fund 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.


Rockefeller Program

            In the beginnings of its second year, the Rockefeller Program has grown in leaps and bounds.  You can check out our new web page at:


The program is designed to assist students, faculty, and staff in preparing oral presentations.  Over the fall semester David Kearney saw 15-20 students, but we expect the numbers to pick up with the spring Undergraduate Conference. 

            The Rockefeller program can help you with research, outlining, practicing, and building a PowerPoint presentation.   Our program is part of a larger program geared towards improving critical thinking and communication of ideas.

1947-1948 Yearbook picture of the Varsity Team


History notes almost finished!

That’s right!  After years of painstaking research, we will have finished the history notes by this summer.  Right now, we have from 1954 thru 1995 on the web page (http://www.whitman.edu/rhetoric/45history.htm), but by summer we will have posted every year of competition, including pictures, stories, team rosters, and awards.  If you have any info that should be on the web page, but isn’t, please email Forensics Director Jim Hanson at hansonjb@whitman.edu.  He would be more than happy to add your info.

Policy Awards

Charles Olney and Thad Blank, NW Scrimmage 3rd, U. Kentucky, 17th, Lewis and Clark 5th, U. Oregon 1st

David Guidry and John Poor, Lewis and Clark 1st

Emily Cordo and Nicholas Thomas, NW Scrimmage, 4th, Lewis and Clark 3rd, U. Oregon 1st

John Poor and Samantha Howell, U. Oregon, 5th

Keola Whittaker and Scott Daniel, U. Oregon 5th

Lauren Ritter and Emily Marr, U. Oregon, 3rd

Parli Awards

Brant Olson and Todd Borden, Lewis and Clark 9th; U. Oregon, 9th

Chris Gorman and Bona Sherifi, Lewis and Clark 9th

Denice Kelley and Brian Danielson, Lewis and Clark 9th

Gabe McGuire and Natalie Havlina, Lewis and Clark 5th; U. Oregon, 9th


IM Debates

Experienced: First, Adam Woodard; Second, Patrick Carter; Third, Dani Boucher (who will be a member of the team next semester!)

Inexperienced: First, Robert “Tiger” Kushamba; Second, Emily Young; Third, Jeff Ives; Fourth, McLeish Martin

Individual Events Awards

Brian Danielson Junior Impromptu: Finalist, Lewis and Clark; Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Charles Olney Novice Impromptu: 3rd, Lewis and Clark

Chris Gorman Junior Prose: 3rd, Lewis and Clark, 3rd; U. Oregon; Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Darrell Miller Junior ADS: 3rd, Lewis and Clark, 1st, U. Oregon

David Guidry Novice Impromptu: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Denice Kelley Junior Extemp: 1st, Lewis and Clark, Finalist, U. Oregon; Junior Impromptu: 1st, University of Oregon

Gabe McGuire Junior Impromptu: Finalist, U. Oregon

Mario Cava and Denise Kelley Open Duo: 1st, U. Oregon

Nicholas Thomas Junior Impromptu: 2nd, U. Oregon

Nicole Reynaud Junior POI, Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Sam Spiegel Junior ADS, 2nd, U. Oregon

Samantha Howell Novice Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Scott Daniel Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Stewart Campbell Novice Extemp: 2nd, Lewis and Clark

Tony Torres Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Wanjiru Kamau Junior Poetry: 3rd, Lewis and Clark

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Samantha, Darrell, and Natalie have fun.      John enjoys computer work.               Brian Ward makes his entrance!