Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can participate in speech & debate at Lewis & Clark?

A: Any full-time Lewis & Clark undergraduate in good academic standing is eligible to participate. The only requirement is interest. No previous experience or training is necessary. Of course, any high school or college experience you’ve had will be of benefit to you, but you can obtain training through classes in argumentation and debate, oral interpretation, and public speaking.

Q: What are the benefits of speech & debate?

A: Speech & debate competition sharpens your ability to research and analyze problems, think and listen critically, express your thoughts clearly and fluently, and better understand public affairs. It increases your confidence and poise and provides constant intellectual stimulation. You will have opportunities to compete against some of the best students from other colleges and universities, to travel, and to develop friendships with other outstanding students at Lewis & Clark and across the nation. Many executives, lawyers, teachers, public relations officers, radio and television personalities, and prominent public figures testify to the benefits of their participation. Many of them found lifelong friends through their involvement. They also gained valuable skills for use in their careers.

Q: What areas are available for participation in speech & debate?

Lewis & Clark has a full selection of competitive speech & debate activities. 

Students from the College compete in a full range of individual events including platform speaking, limited preparation events, and oral interpretation events.

The team also sponsors two formats of debate events: Lincoln-Douglas debate and British Parliamentary debate. .


Q: Where do Lewis & Clark speech & debate participants travel?

A: The L&C team balances regional travel and national travel. Over the past six years, the team has traveled to the following states (shaded in orange). These only count in person tournament. You can also see the 2021-22 schedule.

L&C has traveled to 18 states over the past eight years.


Q: Has the team still competed during the pandemic?

A: Yes! We have engaged in virtual competition over the past academic year. Though we are all greatly anticipating the opportunity to travel in person again, we’re very thankful for the opportunities we have had online.


Q: Is credit given for speech & debate?

A: Yes. By registering for Speech & Debate Practicum you can receive credit for your participation, depending on how much you do. Public speaking, argumentation and debate, and oral interpretation are recommended for their intrinsic merit as well as for their aid to participation in competitive activities.

Q: How does practice work?

A: We have one set team practice (usually Monday evenings). This time also allows for announcements to be made. The rest of the practice time consists of appointments made with coaching staff when it is best for students.

Q: How much time will team membership take?

A: The time you invest in speech & debate depends on how much you want to do and at what level. If you want to do well in many events at a national level, you will spend more time on a weekly basis. Squad meetings, practice debates, and practice speeches are held regularly; potential tournaments are scheduled almost every weekend, though most students will attend about 4-5 tournaments per semester. This is time well spent as an intellectual experience that reinforces coursework.

Thousands of students have distinguished themselves in speech & debate while maintaining their grades, their social lives, and other activities that interested them. For the student who wants to engage in an exciting and intellectually challenging activity, the time commitment is extremely worthwhile.

Q: What happens if a speech & debate event conflicts with classes?

A: Speech & debate schedules are planned around classes to the greatest extent possible. While most professors are sympathetic to missing classes for good cause, class attendance is the individual student’s responsibility. Students must maintain contact with their professors when forced to miss class for competition and arrange make-up work before leaving.

Q: How much does speech & debate cost?

A: The only cost to you as a participant is in time, effort, and personal debate or speech materials. Lewis & Clark pays entry, travel, lodging, and food expenses for tournaments or speaking events.

Q: Is Lewis & Clark a member of national organizations?

A: Lewis & Clark participates in the following national organizations:

  • American Forensics Association (AFA)
  • National Forensics Association (NFA)
  • National Speech Tournament (NST)
  • Northwest Forensics Conference (NFC)

Q: What resources help finance an education at Lewis & Clark?

A: Speech & debate scholarships are available for students demonstrating exceptional talent. These scholarships are based on financial need, talent, and scholarship. If you are interested in applying for one of these scholarships, you should follow all normal College admission procedures. If you are seeking financial aid based on need, you must also file an application for financial aid using the forms supplied by the College. If you are applying on a merit basis only, you do not need to do this.

In addition to these procedures, you will need to submit a scholarship application to the Director of Speech & Debate. The first step is to submit your interest - you can do so by filling out this form:

Forensics Interest Form


Q: How do we compare to other collegiate programs??

A: Lewis & Clark offers a diversity of speech & debate competition and noncompetitive participation in a variety of events. While speech & debate programs at smaller schools are sometimes limited, Lewis & Clark provides students with the opportunity to compete—and excel—at the regional and national levels.