Jackrabbits Forensics

Jackrabbits Forensics is a comprehensive co-curricular forensics program that competes in 11 American Forensics Association events and parliamentary debate. The program develops and enhances oral communication skills through competitive and community performance or public address, limited preparation, oral interpretation and debate speeches. Jackrabbit Forensics students compete from October to April each year.

SDSU won the 2016 South Dakota Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Championships held February in Aberdeen. Viraj Patel is in the middle row, to the left of the largest trophy. Lauren Buisker is the first person in the front row.

SDSU won the 2016 South Dakota Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Championships held February in Aberdeen. Viraj Patel is in the middle row, to the left of the largest trophy. Lauren Buisker is the first person in the front row.

Lauren Buisker is from Volga and is majoring in communication studies and political science.

“Our competitive season starts in the beginning of October and ends with our national tournament in April. The duration of our regular season is spent trying to qualify for the national tournament.

“Typically, we travel to states within the Midwest, but sometimes we go to places that are a little more exciting, like California and Florida.

“We compete in three different genres of individual speaking events. The first is oral interpretation, which is taking a piece of literature and basically acting it out without the use of props. The second is limited preparation, where we don’t know what our topic is until we get to the tournament and have to make up speeches on the spot. The third is public address, where we write speeches that are often political in nature and become advocates for a topic. We also participate in parliamentary debate.

“Overall, I think the activity provides my teammates and me with opportunities that we wouldn’t have had through most activities. Not only does forensics give us a platform to speak about issues that are important to us, but through travel, I’ve also gotten to go on a plane for the first time in my life and see an ocean.

“Additionally, I’ve met many of my best friends through college speech and established connections that I know will last forever. I think people should know more about forensics because it truly is a life-changing activity. It’s fun, challenging, intellectually stimulating and inclusive. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.”

By Tayler Wolff, agricultural communication senior from Brookings 


Viraj Patel is a speech communications major with minors in studio art and film studies. He’s from Mumbai, India, and is involved with Jackrabbits Forensics, the Students’ Association and the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College.

“I learned that I have the power of speaking, and, if I want, I can use that to articulate and to advocate for myself or for anybody. So my mission in life, my dream, my end-goal, my job … is to be either the communications director or press secretary for the White House. I would love to work for the president of the United States and, by doing that, I can provide a better life for people in the United States as well as the White House itself, so that’s how speech connects with my major.

“My first two semesters in Jackrabbits Forensics were pretty awful and after that, midway through the second semester, I gained some momentum and I made it to nationals that year and that was really overwhelming in a nice way.

“So, I loved it, and then in the summer—and this is like the catch-22 for me—I was watching a show called ‘West Wing’ and it’s a show about the workings of the White House and in that, the character of Sam Seaborn, who’s a deputy communications director, says this line, ‘oratory should raise your heart rate, it should blow the doors off the place,’ and because of that I decided to change my major to speech communications.

“Part of why I’m so involved in things is to keep myself busy and part of it is because I like learning something I don’t know about from people. Being involved in many different things, which have some sort of parallel, allows me to know more people, know more things in general and then use them in my future careers.

“There’s a lot of ‘useless’ information in my head that would surprise people, and I hope someday I’ll use all of it. And staying connected to people and learning about new people, meeting new people is something that excites me and gets me going. I feed off of the energy of other people, and that’s part of the reason I am so involved.

“I don’t ever want be at a point where I feel like this is enough, and I don’t need to know more. What if somebody walks up to me tomorrow and asks me about something and I don’t know the answer? It kind of bugs me that I wouldn’t know. It’s always been ‘what’s next?’ for me.”

By Makenzie Huber, political science and journalism senior from Sioux Falls


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