Whitman Forensics Newsletter
Vol. 17, No. 2, May, 2011 (updated)
The Parli-IE Team, Spring 2011.
Front Row: Zach, John Henry, Logan, Joel, Ethan.
Second Row: Jamey, Drake, Olivia, Miranda, Frannie.
Third Row: Hanne, Adam, Nick B, Paige (to the right of Drake), Shanglun, Will, Chris, Tom, Nick R (coach).
Back Row: Nick G (light green sweatcoat), Carly, Riley, Marten.
Missing: Lewis (coach), Nigel, Noah, Charlie.
The Policy Team, Spring 2011.
From the left: Jimi, Gabriella, Sean, Mitch, Ben, David, Andy, Tiffany, Tia, Alex.
Missing: Allison, Aaron (coach), Shanglun.
Click the Stories that interest you
Jean Tobin, ’92 Whitman Grad, Shanglun, Alex, Adam, Charlie
What do you when your generally liberal campus is asked by the conservative Tea Party to engage in a public event? You Debate! And that is exactly what Shanglun Wang, Alex Zendeh, Adam McKibben, and Charlie Weems did.
Debating the costs and benefits of immigration, the four debaters presented arguments about human rights, economic impacts, public reaction, effects on social services, and border security.
After the debate, a lively discussion ensued with questions and arguments presented by audience members.
In one particularly interesting exchange, audience member Jean Tobin (’92 grad and current Walla Walla high school speech and debate coach) strongly disagreed with another gentleman’s comments about younger immigrants and Americans generally focusing too much on their ethnicities and not enough on their American-ness. Jean, who teaches at a Walla Walla elementary school, passionately noted that her Latino students wanted to be Americans in the fullest sense. Shanglun Wang talked about how he valued America because it offered people a chance to represent their Chinese and other nationalities roots as Americans. Other audience members talked about the importance of emphasizing the connection of people in our country as Americans.
In the end, the debate was considered a great success. Jim was very pleased at how well the debaters adapted to debating for a public audience and also thought the exchange of ideas among conservatives, liberals, and moderates was the exactly the kind of dialogue our nation needs more of.
The Winston Cup rewards the top policy debate team on the program. The award is determined based on the policy team’s best record for the year coupled with consideration for support for the team.
This year’s winners, Alex Zendeh and Allison Humble, amassed a strong record even though they are juniors. They finished the season with a record of 51-33. They placed 5th at the CEDA National Championship after a year in which they advanced to elims at Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Fullerton, and Kentucky as well as a semis appearance at Cal Berkeley.
Alex noted that “Policy debate, more than any other class or extra circular activity, has contributed to my personal and intellectual development.” Allison added that, “The opportunities provided by the Whitman debate program have encouraged me to work hard and strive for success so that I may uphold Whitman’s tradition of excellence.”
Jim noted “The Winston Cup recognizes excellence and rewards hard work. Allison and Alex have done that in droves this year. I’m very proud of them.”
The parliamentary debate team successfully defended its season sweepstakes national championship this March, beating out its next closest rival by more than seven points. The award, determined by adding a school’s best four performances by its best four teams, recognizes Whitman as the best squad in country.
Leading the charge for Whitman were its five graduating seniors, but also several new faces like frosh Nick Budak who won every novice and JV tournament he attended throughout the year, and was named the top novice debater in the Pacific Northwest. He and our other younger debaters’ contributions helped push the missionaries over the top.
“One of our pre-season goals was to defend our sweepstakes championship, and we’ve done it with flying colors,” said coach Nick Robinson. “It really reflects the excellence of our entire squad, from our top veterans to our new faces.”
The parli team also clinched the NPDA tournament sweepstakes title, given to the top-performing school at the national championship tournament. With five teams advancing to elimination rounds and three advancing to the sweet sixteen, Whitman left the competition in the dust. It beat out rival and last year’s champion Washburn by a full six points.
This March, the entire policy team traveled to Binghamton, New York for CEDA Nationals. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Binghamton is located 3 hours from a major airport, and the average temperature in the region is around minus 2000 degrees. :) Nonetheless, everyone braved the journey, including an overnight stop in Newark and a long drive through Scranton, Pennsylvania, home of the television show The Office. Unfortunately, spring had not yet arrived in Binghamton, and the weather steadily deteriorated over the weekend. This culminated in a huge snowstorm the night before departing for the NDT that dumped approximately two feet and shut down airports, stranding several team members for an extra day.
Neither rain nor (lots of) snow could stop the Whitman Debate train – Allison and Alex competed with all their strength at CEDA Nationals and reached the quarterfinals. And despite the cold, the majority of the team did manage to make a narrow escape to travel to the NDT. This involved a “shortcut” through a stretch of rural Pennsylvania, a harried drive through mid-Manhattan traffic during rush hour, weather-delayed flights, getting bumped and then unbumped from travel to Texas, and by the end, 5 different states through 2 time zones. Jim has already submitted a request to host next year’s CEDA – in Hawaii.
This year marked the first Whitman Speech and Debate reunion in 14+ years. Organized and helmed by Jim as well as Jason Arp from the Alumni office with help from former directors Bob Withycombe and Remy Wilcox, it brought together dozens of alums from multiple decades, and according to all involved was a smashing success. Alums and current students helped out by calling and emailing and facebooking members of the team. In the end, over 75 alums participated with many emailing Jim to send their regrets–that they wanted to come but couldn’t due to family, health, and work conflicts.
Coming in for a whole weekend in late April, the assembled alums had a great time catching up, trading war stories, and even engaging in debates with current students. It seems that the “old school” hasn’t lost its touch –Jessica Clarke and Brian Simmonds debated Jared Phillips and Sean Harris in a hilarious debate on gay marriage immigrants including a conservative backlash to the perception of gay Al Queda members being allowed to enter the United States. Tim Kaufman Osborne, Provost and Dean of Faculty, was in stitches watching the debate as it featured many of his former students. Eric Suni ’06 made a strong case for “meaties” in his debate with Alex Zendeh’s ‘12 argument for “veggies.” Now, of course who won depends on which you like better but Jim, munching on the Saturday night dinner, claims he knew the decision even before they started debating. “Both win. Eat Both!”
The reunion was also an opportunity to thank outgoing professor and former Director of Forensics Bob Withycombe for his years of loyal service to the team, including with a truly fitting speech from one of his devoted former students, Dave Bansmer. Tim O’Connell presented a revealing speech about team members’ shenanigans during Remy Wilcox’s tenure when she was coach as well as the great work she did. Brent Northup told a great tale about his maturing process at Whitman, dealing with the constant possibility of being drafted into the Vietnam war, and his warm thoughts about his coach, Dean McSloy. Ryan Hagemann capped the coach talk with a rousing talk about “baddies,” “goodies,” and “zingies” for Jim Hanson, current director.
There were many other speeches, rousing discussions, and late night festivities. In classic Jim style, everyone left the weekend well-fed and wishing for more. Hopefully, we’ll see another Whitman Speech and Debate reunion before too long and indeed Jim is already talking about hosting mini-reunions each September and possibly having the whole group together again in 5 to 10 years.
Over the years, team members have been involved in any number of accidents. From falls off windowsills resulting in broken pelvises to accidental concussions to Jim’s storied “dangling ankle” on the ice, the team is no stranger to chaos. But, this spring saw a rarity given that most students live close enough to campus to walk: A car crash.
Sophmore Tia Butler was driving her car in downtown Walla Walla with fellow team members Alex and Adam, when she stopped at a stop sign to wait for a break in traffic. With no warning, another car slammed into her car from behind. The car along with Tia, Alex, and Adam were thrown 25 feet forward, completely totaling the vehicle.
Fortunately, no one was hurt – though it was apparently a close call. And . . . there is more to the story . . .
It seems that an unlicensed 16 year old had stolen her mother’s Suburban with the intention of running away from home, but had only managed to make it two blocks before running into another car (while texting on her phone). The girl’s parents apparently pressed charge against her for theft.
In the end, Tia got a new car from her insurance – and we’re sure the girl who drove the Suburban is still asking why she didn’t take the Greyhound.
Whitman seniors Tom Friedenbach and Nigel Ramoz-Leslie were the beneficiaries of one of the odder events in the history of the NPDA national tournament as well as any tournament when they were eliminated and then reinstated back into the tournament during the round of 32.
Tom and Nigel, debating Concordia, originally lost their double octafinal by a 3-2 margin when one critic stormed out of the room during Nigel’s first speech. The critic was apparently offended by an offhand comment that Nigel made; this judge booed and was visibly and audibly disruptive. Nigel attempted to apologize but the judge grabbed his pen, voted against Whitman on the spot, and left the room well before the debate had finished.
Whitman decided to appeal the decision, arguing that the decision was unfair because Worth violated tournament rules by refusing to listen to the entire debate. After three hours of deliberation, the NPDA board finally agreed and ordered a redo round. The second time around, Tom and Nigel won on a 4-1 decision and advanced to the octafinal debate.
So what did Nigel say that upset the judge so much? Here is how Tom Friedenbach recounts what happened:
In the double-octa, we debated Concordia who argued that their framework would resolve differences schools had with each other in debate styles at tournaments because it would discourage esoteric theory debates. Nigel responded something to the effect that "the debate circuit split was inevitable because in round 3 some debaters from the judge’s school told us to leave the activity because the Pacific Northwest was too technical." The judge loudly said Boo, Nigel apologized several times, the judge pushed his flow away, Nigel apologized again, then the judge angrily circled and signed his ballot, wrote down some comments and left.
Jim was at CEDA Nationals at the time and took several phone calls about the situation. Jim noted that “this was very unfortunate for both Nigel and Tom but also for Concordia, for our entire team, and for the tournament that had to wait five plus hours for this to all get resolved.”
“I’m just glad my career didn’t end when the judge walked out of the room,” said Nigel. The senior said he had no intention of offending anyone, and later apologized to the judge.
Although no one can say for certain, it appears to be the first ever redo of an elimination round debate in the tournament’s history.
At the tail end of the Cal Swing at Fullerton, the team was starving and in need of a meal. While many team members had already departed for home, those who stayed to attend Knots Berry Farm had had a long day and were ready to eat. Unfortunately, it was getting late in the evening and most of the restaurants in the area were closed. Aaron and Jimi had already done their research and scoped out a highly-rated Mediterranean restaurant just around the corner from the hotel. They had tried to go there for lunch, but found it closed – so on a whim, decided to try it again for dinner and it was now open.
The team piled out of the vans and into the restaurant (with a reassuring “OPEN” sign in the window), only to find that it was, in fact, a combination restaurant/hookah lounge. Several raised eyebrows were exchanged, but the team was ultimately too hungry to worry about it. So, the team relaxed in true Turkish style, with pillows for seats, pulsing disco music, strobe lights, and surrounded by parties of hookah smoking revelers, smoke thick in the air.
Amid Jim’s grimaces, everyone agreed that the food was excellent (including Jim).
Two of this year’s parliamentary debate seniors will take over as the squad’s coaches next year. Nigel Ramoz-Leslie and Nick Griffin, both highly successful debaters will take the reins of the team for the 2011-12 season.
Nigel, a three time NPTE qualifier and runner up at this year’s national championship tournament, says he’s looking forward to coaching. “It’s really exciting to move into a different role on the team. I’m sure I will miss debating, but I’m looking forward to new challenges,” he said.
Nick, who finished the season in 8th place in the country, is confident the team will keep up its successful record in the coming season. “We’re graduating a lot of very talented people, but we also have some very promising up-and-comers,” he said.
The pair will replace current coaches Lewis Silver and Nick Robinson, who are moving on to law school and the private sector, respectively.
· Jim Hanson, Director of Forensics (19th year), Chair, Rhetoric and Film Studies
· Aaron Hardy, Policy Coach (6th year)
· Nick Robinson, Parliamentary-I.E. Coach (2nd year)
· Jimi Durkee, Assistant Policy Coach (2nd year)
· Lewis Silver, Assistant Parli-Policy Coach
· Nick Griffin
· Olivia Kipper
· Alex Folkerth
· Tony Woods
· Carter LeBlanc
Adam McKibben, Alex Zendeh, Allison Humble, Andy Larson, Ben Menzies, Carly Johnson, Charlie Weems, Chris Fleming, David Collier, Drake Skaggs, Ethan Robertson, Frannie Nunn, Gabriella Friedman, Hanne Jensen, Joel Wilson, John-Henry Heckendorn, Logan Emlet, Miranda Morton, Marten King, Mitch Dunn, Nick Budak, Nick Griffin, Nigel Ramoz-Leslie, Paige Joki, Noah Teller, Olivia Kipper, Riley Mebus, Scott Campbell, Sean Mulloy, Sean (Shanglun) Wang, Tia Butler, Tiffany Lewis, Tom Friedenbach, Will Stark, Zach Johnston.
Plus Alexandra Schaffer, Aviva Prager, Jamey Moriarty, Katy Witmer, Molly Warner, Taia Handlin, Will Gregg.
· Bob Withycombe, Professor, Rhetoric and Film Studies
· Robert Sickels, Professor, Rhetoric and Film Studies
· Keiko Pitter, Chief Technology Officer
· Jonathan Walters, Humanities Division Chair
· Chuck Cleveland, Dean of Students
· Tim Kaufman-Osborn, Provost and Dean of Faculty
· George Bridges, President, Whitman College
The Intramural Debates, emphasizing public audience argument, debated whether we should end nuclear power as an energy source.
Jim’s comment on the debates: “There were no controversies. They debated. The judges turned in their ballots. Thank God.”
Students won cash prizes up to $100 at the championship tournament. They also enjoyed delicious snacks brought in by the IM Debate Assistants, Nick Griffin and Olivia Kipper.
Full Info is at: http://www.whitman.edu/debate/imdebates/index.htm
· In experienced division, Hanne Jensen placed 1st, Taia Handlin placed 2nd.
· In the intermediate division, Matt Sweeney placed 1st, Tom Everett was 2nd, Noah Lerner and Ari Frink were semi-finalists.
Matt Sweeney, Tom Everett
· In the inexperienced division, Bridget Tescher placed 1st, John Callow was 2nd, Nathan Lessler and Chelsea Momany were semi-finalists.
Bridget Tescher, John Callow
The Dovell Gose Oratory Contest
The Dovell Gose Oratory Contest featured new rules this Spring. Jim banned speeches about himself and reduced the speaking time to 5 to 7 minutes. The changes were instituted because the speeches about Jim were not fair to other contestants and the speaking time was changed because the event took too long with the previous 10 minute time limit. Jim sat at his judge’s chair for over 5 hours last year!
Jim noted that “This year’s speakers were hilarious as well as persuasive. Choosing between Nigel Ramoz-Leslie’s speech on being a “MTV Mastermind,” Chris Fleming’s “Tupac and Biggie” are still alive and together, and Nick Griffin’s “The Manbearpig” critiquing a certain individual :) was very difficult. “They were really funny yet also had some good, serious arguments.”
At the reunion, the new Jim Hanson Endowment was announced. The result of the work of Jason Smith along with Charlotte Main (formerly Smith-McClusky), Kristofer Peterson, and Rowland Hobbs, the endowment is designed to augment the team’s travel opportunities.
Jim was elated upon hearing of the fund. “I’m really speechless. This is such an incredible gift to our program and to me. I am so honored and, yes, I am donating into the fund! :)”
The Endowment Description says that “This endowment is created to support the debate program in Jim Hanson’s name” and that:
This fund is named for Whitman College Professor of Forensics and longtime Debate Coach, Jim Hanson. Jim is a graduate of Western Washington University, who went on to earn an M.A. at University of Washington and a Ph.D. at University of Southern California. He came to Whitman College in 1992, and was promoted to full professor in 2006.
Gifts like this make it possible for our little college in a small town to compete against the best programs and colleges in the country. We are really thankful!
Dawn and Jason Smith, Kristofer Peterson, Charlotte Main (Smith-McKlusky), Rowland Hobbs.
After 31 years teaching and coaching at Whitman College, Bob Withycombe is finishing up an incredible performance at Whitman College. Indeed, his work at Whitman rates as an 8-0 team, a 1-Superior speaker. Truly one of Whitman’s great professors, Bob has served as Department Chair, Associate Dean, and CEDA National President. He has worked on dozens of Whitman committees creating groundbreaking policies and programs at Whitman College. He also led the debate program to so many repeated first places that another coach called him out saying “Greed is one of the 7 deadly sins.” Bob responded, “So is envy.”
Jim, the team, and his many students are very sad to see him go. Jim noted:
Bob has been a perfect colleague. I have so enjoyed working with him. Repeatedly, I’ve gone to Bob for advice. Bob has always been there for me. When my house was one month late getting completed, Bob (and Nancy) opened up their house for me to stay there. That was just one of dozens of occasions where Bob reached out to me and to others. I will miss him so much as a day in and day out colleague but I expect him to stop by many times during the year. Especially during the high school tournament. :)
We wish Bob and Nancy all the best as they vacation, enjoy being with their grandchildren, and the new project that we all know Bob will be involved in at some point in the coming year (Jim predicts mid to late October).
Held at Jim’s, the team enjoyed a barbeque grill themed picnic including boca and beef burgers, beans, corn on the cob, potato salad, salad greens, cherry pie, watermelon, bread and humus, and many other goodies. The team was especially honored to have Bob and Nancy Withycombe join in. Bob said kind words to the students and there was a general sentiment, echoed by a short speech from Jim, that Bob and Nancy are two of the most giving and supportive friends of the team. Nigel and Aaron proceeded to roast the team with individual “awards” and Jim followed with thanks for the great team we have had this year and with special thoughts about each of the graduating seniors. Jim expressed his feeling when he said, “I will really miss them.”
Jimi; Ben and Tia
Ethan; Nigel and Nick G
Marten; Nick B
Olivia; Paige; Allison
John Henry and Chris; Miranda, Zach, and Logan
Bob and Nancy. :)
The parliamentary team set the single-season record for bids to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, with six of its teams receiving invitations to the prestigious championship tournament (only 64 teams in the entire nation are permitted to compete at the tournament). Before this year, no school had ever been invited to attend with more than five teams, and only a small handful had ever qualified more than four.
Whitman’s sixth team to qualify, sophomores Carly Johnson and Olivia Kipper, were originally designated as alternates. When another team was forced to drop out at the last moment, Carly and Olivia got their chance to compete.
At most other schools in the country they would have easily received at-large bids. The only reason they were alternates this year is that Whitman had already qualified five other teams, the maximum allowable under normal NPTE rules.
The squad did incredibly well at the tournament with five teams advancing to the elimination rounds. Nigel and Tom advanced to the final round, placing 2nd in the nation. Nick and Chris placed 9th, John Henry and Miranda placed 8th. Jim noted that it was “All in all, one of the most dominating performances by a squad that I have ever seen.”
We are grateful for your contributions to the forensic team! Generous donors December 8, 2010 through May 8, 2011 include:
· Alyce LeBlanc and Robert Brinton
· Beth Elyse Schueler
· Beverly J. and Robert J. Hanson
· C. Lawrence and Priscilla Lutcher
· Charles Edward Olney
· David and Hildred Allard
· James B. Hanson
· Janice Sandra Berman
· Jason P. Smith
· John R. and Jennifer Lange
· John Ross Miller
· Kathleen A. Duey
· Keola Robert Whittaker
· Kristi Peterson
· Kristofer Noel Peterson
· Marten Neraas King
· Nathaniel Johnson
· PG&E Corporation Foundation
· Richard B. Emlet
· Robert M. Withycombe
· Rodney and Barbara Ostgren Orth
· Ryan James Hagemann
· Samantha Howell
· The Boeing Company
· plus an Anonymous donation
· If we missed you, please tell us because we do appreciate your support!
Send contributions to
The Annual Fund Office
Walla Walla WA 99362
Make Checks to Whitman College
Write a note that says (choose one of the below):
Contribution to Debate Team
Contribution to Withycombe Fund
Contribution to Hanson Fund New!
Contribution to Walker Fund
Contribution to Salzman-Medica Fund
Tiffany and David; Mitch and Tia.
Sean and Ben; Alex and Allison.
Andy and Shanglun.
ALEX ZENDEH AND ALLISON HUMBLE
Wake Forest, DOUBLES
NDT Qualifier (Rankings), THIRD
CEDA Nationals, QUARTERFINALS
Winston Cup Award Winners
MITCH DUNN AND TIA BUTLER
Frosh-Soph Nationals, Octas
BEN MENZIES AND SEAN MULLOY
Frosh-Soph Nationals, Quarters
CEDA Nationals, Triples
The Parli Team
Miranda and John Henry; Nigel and Tom
Nick G and Chris; Carly and Olivia
Drake and Joel; Will and Ethan
Paige and Adam; Charlie and Zach
Hanne and Logan; Shanglun and Marten
Nick B and Noah
ADAM MCKIBBEN AND PAIGE JOKI
NW Warmup, Octas
Whitman McSloy, Doubles
ANDY LARSON AND CHARLIE WEEMS
Lewis and Clark, 3rd, Junior Extemp
WWU, Third, Junior Extemp
Whitman Withycombe, 2nd, Junior Extemp
CARLY JOHNSON AND OLIVIA KIPPER
NW Warmup, Octas
Utah-GSL 2, Doubles
WWU, Finalist, Junior Impromptu
Whitman Withycombe, 8th, Open Impromptu
Lewis and Clark, 6th Open Impromptu
Whitman Withycombe, 1st, Open Impromptu
CHRIS FLEMING AND NICK GRIFFIN
NW Warmup, Semis
Lewis and Clark, Quarters
Washburn I, Octas
Washburn II, Octas
Mile High 1, Doubles
Mile High 2, Doubles
Whitman McSloy, Octas
Whitman Withycombe, 2nd
WWU, Third, Junior Impromptu
DRAKE SKAGGS AND JOEL WILSON
NW Warmup, Octas
Lewis and Clark, Semis
Washburn I, Octas
Washburn II, First (closeout)
Mile High 1, Octas
Mile High 2, Triples
Whitman McSloy, Semis
Whitman Withycombe, Quarters
Lewis and Clark, 2nd, Junior Extemp
Whitman Withycombe, 7th, Open Impromptu
ETHAN ROBERTSON AND WILL STARK
Whitman Withycombe, Doubles
FRANNIE NUNN AND NICK BUDAK
Lewis and Clark, First Novice
HANNE JENSEN AND LOGAN EMLET
Lewis and Clark, First JV
JOHN-HENRY HECKENDORN AND MIRANDA MORTON
NW Warmup, Quarters
Lewis and Clark, Second
Washburn I, Octas
Washburn II, Quarters
Mile High 1, Octas
Mile High 2, Octas
Whitman McSloy, Quarters
Whitman Withycombe, Quarters
Lewis and Clark, 3rd Novice Impromptu
LOGAN EMLET AND NIGEL RAMOZ-LESLIE
NW Warmup, Quarters
WWU, Finalist, Novice Extemp
Whitman Withycombe, 1st, JV Extemp
MARTEN KING AND NICK BUDAK
NW Warmup, First (tie) Novice
UPS, First JV (tie)
Lewis and Clark, 5th, Junior Extemp
WWU, 2nd, Junior Extemp
Lewis and Clark, 2nd Novice Impromptu
Whitman Withycombe, 4th, JV Impromptu
NICK BUDAK AND SCOTT CAMPBELL
WWU, First JV
NICK BUDAK AND NOAH TELLER
Whitman Withycombe, First JV
WWU, Finalist, Impromptu
NIGEL RAMOZ-LESLIE AND TOM FRIEDENBACH
Lewis and Clark, Quarters
UPS Round Robin, Semis
Colorado I, Second
Colorado II, Octas
Washburn I, First
Washburn II, First
Mile High 1, Semis
Mile High 2, Doubles
Whitman McSloy, Semis
Whitman Withycombe, Semis
WWU, First, Impromptu (JV)
Whitman Withycombe, 1st, JV Impromptu
Lewis and Clark, 1st, Novice Extemp
WWU, First, Novice Extemp
Whitman Withycombe, 2nd, Open Extemp
RILEY MEBUS AND SCOTT CAMPBELL
NW Warmup, First (tie) Novice
Lewis and Clark, Semis Novice
UPS, First JV (tie)
SEAN (SHANGLUN) WANG
Lewis and Clark, 5th Junior Impromptu
Whitman Withycombe, 5th Open Impromptu
Lewis and Clark, 3rd, Novice Extemp
Lewis and Clark, 4th, Junior Extemp
Lewis and Clark, 2nd, Novice Extemp
WWU, 2nd, Novice Extemp
Lewis and Clark, 6th Junior Extemp
WWU, Finalist, Junior Extemp
Four Pictures from the Classic McSloy-Withycombe Tournament
Rob Olsen came back to judge; Andy and Jim chilling at tab.
Carter, Tony, Robert helping out; Julie Caton returns as Tournament Assistant, yea! (with unknown person)