THE UTEP FORENSICS TEAM: DIVERSE AND NONTRADITIONAL
The UTEP speech team has been nationally recognized for years due to its outstanding performance in statewide, regional and national competitions. But the team is also notable because UTEP Forensics is a Hispanic majority team. While Hispanic participation in forensics is 7% nationally, Hispanic participation on the UTEP Forensics Team ranges at around 90% (88.88% in Spring 2004). This makes our university speech team a unique voice for UTEP as a Hispanic-dominant institution. UTEP’s official Mission Statement points out that our university “is in the forefront of an important demographic transition occurring on a regional as well as a national level, and serves as a model for other higher education institutions as they seek to respond to a constituency that is increasingly Hispanic.” In 2000 the results of a national survey of diversity in forensics competitors documented that intercollegiate forensics is dominated by European Americans (70%) while Hispanic representation nationwide is at 7%. (Allen, Mike, Mary Trejo, Michael Bartanen, Anthony B. Schroeder, and Tammie J. Ulrich. “Diversity in United States Forensics: A Report on Research Conducted for the American Forensic Association.” Argumentation & Advocacy, the journal of the American Forensic Association, Winter 2004. AFA-funded national survey conducted in 2000.)
The UTEP Forensics Team mirrors the population diversity of its border community and of the university itself, with Hispanic students being the most dominant group on the team. In Spring 2004 out of 18 total members, 16 are Hispanic (88.88%) and 2 are non-Hispanic or European American. Enrollment in the two classes totals 30. In Fall 2003 out of 17 total active members, 13 were Hispanic (76.47%), 1 was African American, and 3 were European American. Again mirroring the friendly culture of our border community, the interaction between our diverse mixture of team members is characterized by a high level of team spirit and conviviality. Like all university forensic teams, we feel that our team members represent the best and the brightest minds of our university, both reflecting and advertising the strengths of our demographic constituency and of the educational opportunities UTEP gives its students.
WHO ARE WE? A CLOSER LOOK AT TEAM DEMOGRAPHICS
Forensics training and competition is a well-known avenue to scholastic and career success; add to this equation the following facts: our Hispanic-dominant speech/debate team members are to a high degree pre-law students who are either graduates of, presently enrolled in, or future participants in UTEP’s prestigious Law School Preparation Institute; a significant number are members of Phi Alpha Delta International Law Fraternity and Pi Kappa Delta National Honorary Forensics Fraternity; team members are active in the Student Government Association, recently holding the posts of Supreme Court Chief Justice, Supreme Court Justice, Public Defender, and Senator At-Large, and others are candidates for election as this report is being written. Another is an elected Democratic Precinct Chairwoman. A high percentage of team members are on the Dean’s List; one is on the National Dean’s List; many have been awarded scholarships. One is a published poet and a member of Mensa; another is doing original, publishable research for a Senior Thesis project. Many are non-traditional students; our ranks include military veterans and one retired fireman. Some are parents. Some are international students. The team is fairly evenly split between females and males. Most are low-income first-generation college students. All volunteer for an amazing amount of community service. All are enthusiastic about forensic competition.
RECRUITMENT is ongoing; we actively seek new recruits to the UTEP Forensics Team.