Forum at the Forum 2010

Speech Center consultants plan fourth annual public debate

March 22, 2010

A University tradition of public debate from the 1960s and 70s has been revived for the fourth year in a row with support from the Speech Center and the School of Arts & Sciences.

In the 1960s and 70’s, Richmond students and faculty engaged actively in public debate. Regularly scheduled forum events encouraged members of the campus community to put forth compelling arguments pertaining to issues of current concern or proposed public policy, for the purpose of swaying the opinions of the audience members gathered in the Greek Amphitheater. The forums were open to anyone who wished to speak and topics were posted in advance in The Collegian.

In 2007, the concept was revived by students who proposed that it be held in the new Forum in front of Gottwald Science Center. Sponsored by the Speech Center, with support from the dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, the "Forum at the Forum" has drawn faculty and students to the now-annual springtime event.

Brian Agnis, ‘10, Emily Bender, ‘10, and Mary Morgan, ‘11, consultants at the University’s Speech Center, are coordinating the forum this year.

Agnis, Bender and Morgan have been planning the event since last spring when they helped out at last year’s forum. The three worked with the director of the Speech Center, Linda Hobgood, to come up with three possible topics, which were run in The Collegian.  Students voted to select the winner: "New Rules, New Parties: How do restrictions affect social life?"

“We wanted a topic that we thought people could argue for on either side. What fun is a debate atmosphere if there’s nothing to debate?” Morgan said. “We tried to think of topics that both students and faculty would have an opinion on.”

A panel composed of Student Activities officials, University Police and representative from the panhellenic council will provide feedback at the forum. Bender believes having a panel full of such important campus community members will only increase the draw for students.

“I really think that students will come out and participate,” Bender said. “This is a topic a lot of people have an opinion on, and I hope they understand that what they say at the forum could really have an impact.”