Since its inception in 1922 the University of Puget Sound Forensics program has maintained a commitment to student learning through the teaching and practices of forensics. Although the forms of competition have changed significantly over the past 80 years, the core goals of the program remain stable--provide students with the critical abilities to engage in public sphere deliberation through research, analytical and critical thinking, argumentation, and the written and oral expression of ideas.
Operating under an "open-door" policy where any student may participate in forensics, the program provides a unique location to meet the mission statement and educational goals of the university. As a member of the Puget Sound forensics program students are required to work individually and as a team:
- to develop research agendas, format argumentation strategies, facilitate the learning of formal debate and public speaking
- to coalesce inter-disciplinary methods to the practices of public deliberation
- to establish personal and team goals
- and to gain both breadth and depth of knowing on a variety of topics relevant to the broader humanity in a world environment.
As a member of the Northwest Forensics Conference:
- Puget Sound participates in a strong community of competitors, coaches, and scholars.
- The Puget Sound squad competes in Northwest tournaments such as Lewis and Clark College, Gonzaga University, Western Washington University, Whitman College and Pacific University.
- Puget Sound also competes at select out-of-region tournaments such as Washburn University, University of Utah, and UC Berkeley and the national tournaments of the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA), National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE), Cross-Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and National Debate Tournament (NDT).
Puget Sound is committed to a diversified program that enables student participation in all areas of forensics—policy debate and parliamentary debate. Generally, the squad consists of 20-25 students and between 8-10 debate teams.
Although the team does not place winning above the educational value of involvement in forensics, over the last few years the team has experienced considerable success.
- In 2001 Puget Sound qualified a team to the NDT for the first time in roughly two decades.
- Puget Sound also qualified a team to the NDT in 2003 and 2004.
- In 2003 Puget Sound qualified for the NPTE and finished 4th at the tournament.
- In 2004 Puget Sound finished 9th and 14th at the NPTE and 9th at the NPDA.
- In 2005 Puget Sound teams finished 4th and 9th at the NPTE.
- The 2005 parliamentary team recorded the highest ever standing for Puget Sound in the national rankings by finishing the season in 2nd place in the NPDA sweepstakes--out of more than 300 schools. This accomplishment is a true demonstration of the depth and ability of the entire team.
- In 2011 Puget Sound qualified three parliamentary teams to the NPTE.
- In 2012 Puget Sound qualified a team to the NDT.
- Puget Sound qualified a team to the NDT in 2015 and 2016.
- In 2016 Puget Sound was the 4th seed at CEDA.
Finally, members of the Puget Sound forensics team are also ever-present fixtures in campus and community life. On campus, team members are active in the Greek system, student government, diversity planning, campus newspaper and radio, campus sustainability and theatre. Off campus team members coach local high school speech and debate teams and judge at high school tournaments including volunteering for the Seattle Urban Debate League (UDL).