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Since the late 19th century, the Ohio State Forensics Society and debate competition squad has existed at The Ohio State Universitymarker, currently competing in the National Forensic Association. The 1885 debate resolution: "Are Populous Cities Favorable to the Best Interests of Society?" marks the activity's inherently topical nature. Each year the Forensics team has experienced new members, new topics, and a new perspective on the future, expanding to larger and larger leagues, and introducing thousands of students to speech and debate.

The team has been at times existed as a student organization, a speech society, an interstate and an international program. On October 10, 1924, the Ohio State team defeated the team from Oxfordmarker, England in a debate judged by an audience in the University Chapel and presided over by William Oxley Thompson. The team rose from there to greater heights when after 1926 Glenn Ross took over as Debate Business Manager he managed to help start the Ohio State High School Debating League. The spread of debate to the high school level has benefited every level of education.

In the early 1950s, J. Gariser Drushal encouraged students to participate in "oratory contests, interpretative readings, extemporaneous speaking, and a special peace oratory." Thus beginning the now 57 year history of the Individual Events (IE) here at Ohio State. The team was advancing rapidly, and in the 50’s and 60’s found major success in both IE and Debate, in 1966 winning seven first place awards, 15 trophies in 29 tournaments, while traveling over 100,000 miles.

The team of James Luck and Michael Manley also managed to get first place at the Northwestern University Tournament and in 1967 Edward Smith and James Luck led the team to 43 tournaments and 38 trophies.

The late 1970s were tumultuous times for Forensics at Ohio State. Speech and Debate funding was cut by the Communications Department and the program moved to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. However after that move, the Communications Department regained control of program after a short time and proposed a switch from NDT debate to a Big Ten Debating League. The competitors and team alumni resisted the change.

In 1979, the Team was removed from the department of Communications and moved under the Division of Student Affairs at the behest of State Representatives and former team members Mike Stinziano and Dean Conley in order to maintain the competitiveness of NDT style debate. There, under direction of Harold Lawson they set a new team record, with 156 trophies won in the 1980-81 season.

During the 1980s, the CEDA/NDT squad was discontinued, and Ohio State began focusing its resources in NFA. In the mean time the team was moved 6 times, but still managed to remain active in the world of speech and debate. In 1990, OSU hosted the Ohio Forensics Association Constitutional Convention. In the Fall of 1991 OSU Forensics attends 1 tournament fall quarter. Mark S. Hickman starts as Director of Forensics on Sept 1st, 1992 till 1997. In Fall of 1992 OSU Forensics first offered Lincoln Douglas Debate.


The Ohio State Speech and Debate Team currently competes in intercollegiate events as a member of the National Forensic Association. The NFA has, in its three decades of existence, provided structure and organization for speaking events to universities across the nation.


  1. OSU Forensics — History.
  2. OSU Forensics — Information.

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