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Letter from the President

Dear Colleagues in Forensics:

I am pleased to invite you to join the Collegiate Forensic Association and to participate in the five tournaments the organization will be sponsoring during the 2019-20 academic year.  In addition, I am pleased to announce two additional tournaments, hosted by  Randolph-Macon College and Wilkes University.  These tournaments follows CFA rules and will count in the year-long CFA competitions.

Let me stress how CFA events (and CFA-participating schools) are different from others involved in intercollegiate debate and forensics. Although it is difficult to codify precisely the difference, CFA events offer an open venue for students at programs with minimal funding, minimal coaching staffs, and no (or very few) debate/forensic scholarships, schools that compete primarily because debate and forensics are educationally valuable not because they seek slots-a-plenty at either AFA or NFA nationals. We have relied in the past on the ethics of forensics educators to determine if their programs fit or not. I do hope, as we embark on the 2019-2- season, that we can count on colleagues to choose the CFA circuit only if their programs do indeed fit the profile I outlined above. Some CFA-ers do participate at nationals, and some who don’t enter occasional competitors who are of national caliber. However, the organization prides itself on offering an arena of competition where beginners can quickly succeed if they have talent and work hard and where students who are doing forensics along with many other things can thrive.  

CFA also has been characterized by some as “traditional,” and that may be true to a point: interpretation events at CFA events are usually not as “theatrical” as on other circuits; NPDA debate is conducted with a premium on the good arguments and good speaking that would sway a public audience. Saying this, however, does not mean that the organization is hopelessly frozen in the ‘80s. We encourage competitors to understand our guidelines for events, but, within those guidelines, take new approaches if they seem effective. And, very importantly, we encourage all judges not to insist on one correct way to do an event (whether that way be “traditional” or “avant-garde”) but, within CFA guidelines, evaluate competitors respecting the strategic or artistic choices they have made.

I hope to see you in Bloomsburg, PA as we kick-off the 2019-20 CFA season.


Ted Sheckels President, CFA