KU Debate Opens Season in Impressive Fashion

The KU debate squad opened the season September 17-20 with teams competing at two national tournaments, in Kansas City and in Atlanta, and the teams performed extremely well at both tournaments. The KU duo of Sion Bell and Quaram Robinson took first place at a tournament hosted by the University of Missouri- Kansas City and the KU team of Jacob Hegna and Henry Walter took 3rd place at a tournament hosted by Georgia State University.

Quaram Robinson, a junior from Round Rock Texas, and Sion Bell, a sophomore from Baltimore MD, began the season where they left off last year. They ended the season last year finishing as the National Runner Up to Harvard at the National Debate Tournament and began this season by winning the season opener at UMKC. They defeated the University of Southern California in the final round to win the first major tournament of the year. They rolled through the tournament undefeated finishing with a 12-0 record. They defeated teams from Baylor University, the University of Iowa, the University of Oklahoma, Binghamton University, Georgia Mason University, the University of Central Oklahoma, Weber State University and USC. Robinson won the first place individual speaker award and Bell was the 6th place speaker.  The KU team of Brandon Boyce and Alondra Garcia-Arevalo, freshmen from Emporia KS, advanced to the quarterfinals in the Junior Varsity division to begin their college careers.

Meanwhile other KU teams were competing in Atlanta.  The team of Jacob Hegna, and Henry Walter, both sophomores from Overland Park KS, advanced to the semifinals of the tournament before losing a 2-1 split decision to the University of California at Berkeley. In their run to the semifinals they defeated teams from Northwestern University, Georgetown University, the University of Pittsburgh, Emory University, George Mason University and two teams from Wake Forest University. A second KU team, Chris Fry, a sophomore from Overland Park, and Will Katz, a junior from Topeka, advanced to the final 16 of the tournament. They pulled a major upset over the 3rd seeded team in the tournament from Emory University to reach the final 16 but were matched up against Hegna and Walter who advanced over them. A third KU pair, Chris Birzer, a senior from Leawood KS, and Mac Cook, a senior from Shawnee KS, advanced to the elimination rounds before losing a 2-1 split decision to Northwestern. A fourth KU team, Amit Bhatla, a senior from Shawnee, and Saif Bajwa, a freshman from Overland Park, won five of eight debates but just missed qualifying for the single elimination rounds. Chris Birzer was the 20th individual speaker at the tournament.

                Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate at KU said, “We are thrilled at the excellent start to the season. We have a number of talented and hardworking debaters and we have hopes for an outstanding season.” The debate team will travel to 20 tournaments around the country between now and the National Debate Tournament in March. KU will be hosting the National Debate Tournament at the end of the 2016-17 season at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park, KS March 23-27. KU has qualified to the National Debate Tournament for 49 consecutive years.​
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KU Debate Team National Runner Up

– From Coach Scott Harris –

The KU debate team of Sion Bell, a freshman from Laurel Maryland, and Quaram Robinson, a sophomore from Round Rock Texas, finished 2nd at the 70th National Debate Tournament in Binghamton New York.  KU lost in the Championship Debate to Harvard University. The final round took place at the same time as the Men’s NCAA Basketball championship game. They are the 15th KU team to advance to the Final Four of the NDT and the 6th KU team to reach the championship debate.

The final round was the culmination of four days of competition in which the field of 78 teams was narrowed to Kansas and Harvard.  Each team in the tournament debated in eight preliminary debates and the top 31 teams Debate Team 2016

qualified for single elimination debates. Bell and Robinson began the tournament with 5 consecutive wins over the University of Southern California, George Mason University, the University of California-Berkeley, Wake Forest University, and Trinity University. They then lost back to back debates to a 2nd team from the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Kentucky before bouncing back with a win over Northwestern University in the final preliminary debate. They advanced to the elimination rounds with a 6-2 record as the 13th seed. In the first elimination round they defeated a team from Emory University to advance to the Sweet 16 and the final day of competition.

In the sweet 16 they met the 4th seeded team from the University of California-Berkeley in a rematch and defeated them for the second time in the tournament.  In the Elite Eight they had a rematch with the 5th seeded team from Berkeley that had defeated them in the preliminary rounds and this time KU emerged victorious to advance to the Final Four. In the semifinals they defeated the University of Michigan, the top seed at the tournament and the team that had entered the tournament as the 2nd ranked team in the country.  In the championship debate KU lost to the Harvard team that was the top ranked team in the country. Bell and Robinson had entered the NDT as the 17th ranked team in the country.

A second KU team composed of Chris Carey, a senior from Westwood Hills Kansas, and Amit Bhatla, a junior from Lenexa, went 5-3 in the preliminary rounds and qualified for the single elimination debates. In the preliminary rounds they defeated the University of Texas, Indiana University, the University of Wyoming, Central Oklahoma University, and the University of West Georgia. They lost in the first elimination round to the Berkeley team that Bell-Robinson would later defeat in the Elite Eight.

Quaram Robinson was recognized as the sixth best individual speaker at the tournament. Scott Harris, the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate at KU said, “We are incredibly proud of the performance of the debaters at the NDT. Quaram and Sion had an amazing tournament with 6 wins over teams ranked in the top 10. Making it to the final round was a testament to their talent and hard work. I am very grateful to the hard work of all the assistant coaches who helped them on this remarkable run.” According to Assistant Coach Sean Kennedy their performance included some historic achievements. Sean claimed, “They are the first team not ranked in the top 16 going into the tournament to make it to the final round since rankings began in 1973; they are only the 2nd team of two non-males to debate in the final round and Quaram is the first black woman to ever compete in the final round.”

It was announced during the tournament that the University of Kansas will be the host for next year’s National Debate Tournament to be held March 23-27, 2017. Coach Brett Bricker stated, “We are very excited at the prospect of bringing the NDT to the University of Kansas for the first time.”

KU teams also performed well at other national tournaments.  The team of Jacob Hegna, a freshman from Austin Minnesota, and Henry Walter, a freshman from Overland Park Kansas won the National Junior Division Debate Tournament, a national championship for debaters in their first two years of college competition. It is the third consecutive year that KU has won the NJDDT Championship. The team of Chris Fry, a freshman from Overland Park Kansas, and Will Katz, a sophomore from Topeka Kansas took 3rd place at the tournament.  The team of Lainey Schrag, a freshman from Overland Park, and Tyler Woodcock, a freshman from Leavenworth finished in 5th place. At the Cross Examination Debate Association national tournament the team of Hegna-Walter finished in 9th place.

COMS 342 Raises Money For Great Cause

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This semester, $627 was raised for The Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center in Lawrence by graduate student Haley Vellinga’s COMS 342: Problem Solving in Teams and Groups class.

The class was split into 4 teams and each team raised the money through four different fundraising events. “Team Grade A” held a dodgeball tournament at the Union. “Team Jayhawk” held a percentage night at Buffalo Wild Wings. “Team Impact” partnered with Premier Martial Arts in Lawrence and held a Self Defense workshop. “Team J-ELM” partnered with the Lawrence Community Center and held a swimming event.

This is the first semester Haley Vellinga has taught this class. A previous instructor, Phil Wagner, had similarly partnered with The Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center in the past, and Haley decided to continue the tradition of focusing and advocating for this cause.

In the upcoming Spring semester, she and her class of COMS 342 students will have a chance to double their efforts when she will teach two separate sections of the class. That’s eight teams of undergraduate students all working towards the same cause. That’s the power of Problem Solving in Teams and Groups, the COMS 342 class. The real-world solutions that these students are learning is of great value for the here and now as well as the future.

The names of the COMS 342 students that participated are:
Meredith Brownell, Brooke Buckner, Maddie Dobyns, Kagen Fell, Joey Hurley, Mercedes Jellison, Megan Lindemann, Uzzie Martinez, Amy Melby, Spencer Painton, Lindsey Peterson, Cathy Readman, Jared Singer, Cameron Smith, Michael Stigler, Madisyn Warinner, Jessica Washington, and Ezekiel Welch

 

Lambda Pi Eta Making Strides to Become More Active

The Lambda Pi Eta Chapter at the University of Kansas is making strides to become a more active chapter, both in membership and also involvement at the university and in the local community. Lambda Pi Eta is a nationally recognized honor society that recognizes, fosters, and rewards outstanding scholastic achievement while stimulating interest in the communication discipline. LPH represents what Aristotle described in The Rhetoric as three ingredients of persuasion: logos (Lambda), meaning logic; pathos (Pi), relating to emotion; and ethos (Eta), defined as character credibility and ethics.

The chapter has long been established at the University, but involvement and activity was revived in the spring of 2014 when Dr. Jay Childers became the faculty advisor. In the spring of 2015 Dr. Angela Gist volunteered to be the new faculty advisor for Lambda Pi Eta. At that point, Cassandra Bird, a doctoral student and Assistant Basic Course Director, was also appointed as the graduate advisor. Dr. Gist’s experience in working with the University of Missouri Lambda Pi Eta Chapter has proven to be beneficial in rebooting and energizing forward movement of the organization. As a result, membership has grown exponentially, from five students last spring to twenty-two students this fall. Ally Northrup, President of Lambda Pi Eta’s Alpha Mu chapter and Jacob Elberg, serving as Vice President, are the current initiated members. The following new members will be initiated on November 30th, 2015:

Gabriel Alaniz
Natalie Baldinger
Abigail Cauble
Chelsea Cullen
Patricia Donahue
Bailey Fee
Matthew Frederick
Alexandria Hernandez
Mary Holden
Daniel Jenab
Roon Johnson
Miriam Levine
Erin Martin
Ian Mirsch
Thomas Murphy
Jonathan Shafer
Sydney Studer
Taylor Tobin

Currently, the organization is identifying ways in which they can become more involved on campus and in the local Lawrence community. Members participated in the Student Involvement & Leadership Center’s (SILC) Information Fair on Daisy Hill for the recruitment of new members and to inform freshman of the exciting opportunities available in the Communication Studies department. Additionally, members are volunteering at the Linkugel Speech Competition, a bi-annual speech competition that students from the Speaker Audience Communication course (the introduction to public speaking course) participate in to promote public speaking and civic engagement. Lambda Pi Eta is also identifying a local Lawrence non-profit organization to support by hosting a  philanthropic event to either raise money and/or supplies as a way to connect and give back to the local community.​

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Colloquium Series speaker Dr. Angela Gist

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Dr. Angela Gist, an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies, was recently featured as a guest speaker in the departmental colloquium series. Dr. Gist received her Bachelors from Ohio University in Journalism and Advertising, her Masters from University of Georgia in Mass Communication and Advertising, and her Doctorate from the University of Missouri in Organizational Communication. Dr. Gist is in her second year of teaching and research at the University of Kansas and has quickly become very involved in the local campus community. Her research interests broadly focus on organizational communication, with a more specific focus on social mobility, social class, and power.

Dr. Gist’s presentation, entitled “Qualitative and Theoretical Inquiry of Working-Class Dignity Violations in Organizations”, focused on the experiences of the working-class. Themes of her research included the linguistic infantilization of the working-class unemployed, classed disproportionate (dis)respectful social interaction, and the inherent inequality that is embedded into the institution of work.

The first of the two studies that she presented took a critical ethnographic approach to further explore a blue-collar unemployment support organization. “The findings of this study critique the organizational culture revealing that the organization operates on an implicit assumption that infantilizes the working-class unemployed and produces tension-filled, productive-destructive results in the experiences of the working-class job seekers”, says Dr. Gist.

Additionally, Dr. Gist discussed a research project that she co-authored with Dr. Kristen Lucas from the University of Louisville, that focused on a duel-path model by which managerial practices negatively impact dignity.

“I am joining an interdisciplinary scholarly conversation that seeks to empower marginalized voices.  As a critical interpretive scholar, the work I do ultimately seeks to ethically foreground the stories and experiences of individuals with lower social class status, so that we can all have a better understanding of their standpoint.  I hope to impact organizational communication by nuancing the knowledge we have regarding identity differences and by illustrating the way engaged scholarship can positively construct and improve local communities”, says Dr. Gist on the impact of her scholarly work in the organization communication field.

Communication Studies has hosted the colloquium series since the fall semester of 2008. Speakers are selected by the Colloquium Committee and come from a wide range of research backgrounds and interests. The goal of hosting the Colloquium Series is to learn from fellow scholars, enrich interdisciplinary relationships, and celebrate research that continues to impact our discipline and others.

We would like to thank Dr. Gist for sharing her research. Additionally, many thanks to those that have presented in the past and those that we look forward to hosting in the future!

If you would like to find more information on the Colloquium Series, please visit this link.

(Pro)Social event speaker Dr. Angela Gist

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On October 23rd, 2015, Dr. Angela Gist, an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies, was the guest speaker for a (Pro)Social event. (Pro)Social is an organization that works to promote social support among graduate students in Communication Studies during their time at the University of Kansas.

As an organizational communication scholar, Dr. Gist has researched the power of networking communication in both online and interpersonal contexts. She presented several networking tools and practices that will aid individuals as they seek to build their social networks and make connections that will prove beneficial once graduate students are on the job market. She covered online tools, such as LinkedIn, building a personal website, and how to brand yourself online. Additionally, she shared personal practices of connecting with others and maintaining professional relationships. “Networking has the power to transform your career by leveraging professional relationships as opportunistic resources”, Dr. Gist said.

Natalie Hoskins, a doctoral student and president of (Pro)Social said, “As someone who is currently on the job market, I enjoyed Dr. Gist’s presentation and found it to be very useful. Her LinkedIn advice helped me fine tune my self-presentation online. However, the biggest takeaway for me, was learning that the seeds of social networking need to be planted far in advance of when you actually wish to reap what you sow. You can’t expect to make meaningful connections overnight.”

Dr. Gist’s genuine enthusiasm and passion for helping those around her succeed in developing and implementing valuable networking skill sets truly helped those in attendance reflect on the importance of networking and gain new knowledge on effective ways to do so. Thank you, Dr. Gist!

Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Dr. Alcides Velasquez

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This semester, Communication Studies welcomes Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Dr. Alcides Velasquez. Dr. Velasquez holds a Ph.D. in Media and Information Studies from Michigan State University and is currently an Assistant Professor at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. His research concentrates on how social media affordances and social and cognitive factors influence social media activism.

During his visit, he is teaching COMS 320, Communication on the Internet, as well as a COMS 560 seminar Minority Representation in the Media.

He finds great interest from KU Faculty in engaging in cross and inter disciplinary research, especially in topics related with digital media. He values the efforts the University is making to create appropriate spaces to facilitate these new projects and ideas related with digital media, and he is looking forward to making connections campus-wide with departments and professors already engaged in research projects relating to his research.

This has already yielded results. He is collaborating on a project with two faculty members,  Dr. Joseph Erba and Dr. Hyunin Seo, from Journalism and Mass Communication about the portrayal of immigrants by users of online news websites. The goal of this research project is better understand how users of news websites are discussing the issue of immigration, given the importance it has acquired for the primary elections.

For Communication Studies collaborations, he is working with two members of faculty, Dr. Andrew Quenette and Dr. Ashley Muddiman, on a project about social media and political participation. This research project is aimed at examining whether social media acts as a gateway for traditional forms of political participation among Latino youth and will compare Latino youth with non-Latinos.  Secondly, he is collecting data with a Communication Studies Ph.D. student, Jennifer Schon that looks at mediated communication patterns between parents and their teenage children. More specifically, the study examines factors that play a role in whether and how parents utilize information communication technologies, such as learning source, learning efficacy, and mobile communication competence.

He finds the pace of life in Lawrence much different than that of Bogota, Colombia—a city of 8 million people. His wife Diana and his two sons Tomas (3 years old) and Benjamin (4 months old) have joined him, and he enjoys the family-oriented atmosphere of the University and the town.

“Lawrence has many places to take small kids to play and have fun. For someone with small children, that is very valuable. Besides, the weather has been great for outdoors activities, which is great for kids.  Life in general seems easy in Lawrence.”

When he isn’t teaching or working with other faculty and students, he enjoys watching films and listening to music, and loves playing and watching soccer.

New COMS Faculty: Dr. Ashley Muddiman

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Dr. Ashley Muddiman is the most recent addition to our Communication Studies faculty. She earned her M.A. in communication from Wake Forest University, and Ph.D. in communication studies from the University of Texas at Austin. After spending two years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Wyoming, she was offered an Assistant Professorship with the Communication Studies department at the University of Kansas, and we are glad to welcome her for the 2015 Fall semester!

Dr. Muddiman’s research centers on political communication and media effects, specifically political incivility and digital news. She uses social scientific methods in her research, but she also enjoys working in departments with faculty and students who use a variety of methodological approaches to communication studies.

She is teaching two undergraduate courses for her first semester with the department. The first, COMS 335: Rhetoric, Politics, and Mass Media, focuses on the content and effects of political media. The second, COMS 560: Politics, Technology, and New Media, covers digital technology and how it influences citizens, campaigns, governance, and news.

For the upcoming spring 2016 semester, she will teach COMS 607: Political Communication, which gives students the opportunity to conduct a mock political campaign through the semester. She is especially excited about her upcoming COMS 930: New Media and Politics, which is an advanced version of her current undergraduate course for COMS 560.

For this year’s NCA, she is presenting two papers. The first, titled “What’s in a Frame? Using Political Incivility to Model News Frame Validation,” is on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 2pm. The second, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21 at 9:30am, is part of a paper panel titled “Embracing the Dark Side of Politics: Distrust, Avoidance, Incivility, and Difference in Contemporary Political Discourse.” During this presentation, she will discuss research about how people interact with politically uncivil news online.

When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys her two favorite hobbies: Traveling and art. In her recent travels to San Francisco, Chicago, Puerto Rico, and London to present her research, she tries to find time for sightseeing. When she can find the time, She enjoys painting, and she is looking forward to visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

She had trouble deciding what her favorite thing about Lawrence and KU has been so far.

“At KU, everyone has been so welcoming and the job fits so well. It is great to be in a place where many people, faculty and students alike, are interested in politics, digital technology, or both.”

She is enjoying Lawrence very much, and finds the variety of downtown shops and restaurants in Lawrence to be great. She adds, “I am a huge fan of the television show Parks and Recreation, so I love that the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department is fabulous and has so many free fitness centers!​”

38th Annual OSCLG Conference attended by COMS Jayhawks past and present

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KU Communication Studies graduate students, faculty, and alumni presented, collaborated, and gained new knowledge at the 38th Annual Conference of The Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG) in Kentucky during September 30-October 4, 2015.

Among the attending were current graduate students Haley Vellinga, Francis Soto, Josh Morgan, COMS Professor Dr. Adrianne Kunkel, and alumni Jennifer Guthrie (now a professor at UNLV), Jimmie Manning (now a professor at NIU), Mary Beth Asbury (now a professor at MTSU), Phillip Wagner (now a professor and administrator at University of South Florida, Manatee), and Courtney McDaniel (now an MA student at UNLV).

Dr. Phillip Wagner presented his work on male fitness spaces and ideas of masculinity and the body. When asked what he thought was the best part of reconnecting with current Jayhawks, he said, “While the conference was pretty big, KU, by far, had the biggest representation. It also reminded me that no matter how far you go or how long you’ve been away, you can pick up right where you left off. Some Jayhawks had left almost a decade ago—some are still there—yet we were all like family. That’s what makes me so proud to be a Jayhawk.”

Additionally, Josh Morgan presented his research on gender and sexuality expectations, specifically examining rural LGBTQIA narratives. Courtney McDaniel, Dr. Adrianne Kunkel, and Dr. Jennifer Guthrie also gave presentations on their research.

Frances Soto had the following to say about her first conference experience: “The most rewarding takeaway was being able to strengthen my bond with my colleagues from KU in an inclusive, safe, feminist space. It was so beneficial to my academic identity to be around distinguished feminist scholars and learn about the important intersectional issues which connect us all within our society; issues that should be discussed more, not only here at KU, but also within our communities.”

As those who attended the conference returned home, Bailey Hall was filled with many positive remarks and energized researchers. “In terms of the conference, it was amazing to have 8 of my past and current students at the conference. I am so proud of all of them and it was just so incredible to see how some of them have really grown into great scholars over the years, particularly the ones who finished several years ago,” says Dr. Adrianne Kunkel.

Next year, the OSCLG conference will be held in Chicago, Illinois. We hope to have a strong Jayhawk presence again next year, both from Jayhawks near and far!

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