OU Speech Team experiences budget cut

Jordan Jewell, Staff Reporter

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Falling victim to recent budget cuts, the Oakland University Speech Team is now dealing with the cancellation of tournaments and losing a coach.

“Forensic studies have deep roots at Oakland University, dating back to the ‘70s,” said Jared Lane, president of the OU Speech Team.

Lane has been a part of the team for four years and president for two and is now concerned about the team’s future.

The College of Arts and Sciences recently cut the team’s budget, which covers travel expenses and payment of their coach.

The OU Speech Team, also known as the Forensics Speaking Team, is centered around speaking and speech writing skills. Students are able to compete in different categories including public address, dramatic interpretation and persuasion.

The team provides students with an opportunity to improve on their public speaking skills as well as their research and critical thinking skills.

One of my deciding factors for choosing OU was because they had a forensics team,” Lane said. “In fact, my first exposure to the campus was my sophomore year of high school, when Oakland hosted states for high school forensics and did so again my senior year.”

The funding cut resulted in a pay cut for the coach of the club. In addition, the team will no longer be able to host competitions at high school or collegiate levels. This includes the Michigan High School Forensics State Tournament, which would open OU up to dozens of possible future Golden Grizzlies.

“As a result, our coach — rightfully — isn’t going to do this job for free, so our team has to go forward without an active coach for the remainder of the season,” Lane said.

Lane predicts that without the restoration of the team’s funding, the group will cease to exist by as early as fall 2019.

The National Forensic Speaking competition was originally set to be held at OU but has since been moved. The team still plans to attend the national competition as well as seven to 10 other competitions this year with help from their assistant coach.

The funding cut is a result of an overall lack of funds in the College of Arts and Sciences. An article published in May by the Detroit Free Press points out that budget cuts are a problem faced by several Michigan universities. The article cites a drop in student credit hours as the root cause of lower funding.

Lane and other members of the team are working to get the funding restored as soon as possible.

“The team and I plan on doing everything we can to make sure the team continues to thrive at OU,” Lane said.

Francheska Brikho, the team’s secretary, also believes that the team is an important part of OU. After joining, Brikho was able to expand her knowledge of current events, public speaking skills and communication.

“The team’s funding deserves to be reinstated due to the many voices that will go unheard unless the issues are addressed,” Brikho said. “The team offers an opportunity for members voices to be heard, allowing us to address issues currently happening in our society showcasing what public speaking truly is about.”