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Students » Speech and Debate Council

Speech and Debate Council

About Us

About the Council

The MSU Speech and Debate Council serves two functions, representing the university in intercollegiate speech and debate competition and promoting public speaking and debate on campus and in the community. Our members come from all segments of the student body, from freshmen to graduate students, encompassing a wide array of majors.

The Council was established in 2015 to carry on the traditions of previous speech and debate teams and organizations at Mississippi State University. We compete in individual and team debate under International Public Debate Association (IPDA) rules, as well as all American Forensic Association (AFA) individual events. For those new to forensics, these include multiple events in public speaking and dramatic interpretation, as well as limited preparation events like extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, so there really is something for everyone.

Our Coaches

Cheryl Chambers is the advisor for the Speech and Debate Council and coaches Individual Events. She was raised in Starkville and received her Bachelors in Communication from MSU. After receiving her Master's in Communication Studies from the University of Alabama, she accepted a teaching position back at home. In the Department of Communication, Cheryl teaches courses on public speaking, interviewing, and communication and media studies. She also manages Starkville’s Downtown Martial Arts Academy, is married, and has a mischievous black cat named Pitch.

Brett Harvey coaches IPDA debate. His real job is being the university’s Title IX/EEO Director, but he sometimes needs a break from the heavy stuff. Before coming to MSU, he was a lawyer who handled federal appeals. Before that, he was a high school and college debater. His wife is a debate coach. His kids are debaters. Even his dog has an argumentative streak.

Our Officers

  • Athena Kavanagh is an Economics major. She is serving her third year as the President of the Council. She can be reached at
  • William Bonduris is a Political Science major. He is serving his first year as the Vice President of Debate. He can be reached at
  • Sean McCarthy is a Political Science and Communication major. He is serving his first year as the Vice President of Speech. He can be contacted at
  • Stevie Flynt is a Political Science major. She is serving her first year as Secretary.
  • Colleen McInnis is an Art major. She is serving her first year as Treasurer.
  • Kasia Hayes is a Political Science major. She is serving her first year as Social Media Chair.

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2017-18 Competition Schedule

  • University of Alabama, Crimson Classic
  • Louisiana Tech University, Hot and Spicy Tournament
  • LSU-Shreveport, Red River Swing Tournament
  • Mississippi College, Deep South Debates
  • Arkansas Tech University, Southern Forensics Championship
  • Louisiana State University, Mardi Gras Invitational
  • Bossier Parish Community College, Eddy Shell Invitational
  • Tennessee State University, PKD National Tournament

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Prospective Members

All MSU students are welcome to join the Council. Whether you have years of experience or are completely new to speech and debate, there is a place for you.

Remember that competition is optional. We also need members whose involvement focuses on our mission of promoting speech and debate on campus and in the community. So if your interest were, for example, planning and promoting Student Association debates or volunteering to teach forensics to high school students, we definitely have a place for you.

Expectations for Council members are straightforward. We expect all members to actively participate in general body meetings and service projects. In addition, we expect members who plan to compete to attend practice regularly and follow the coaches’ instructions to improve.

Current MSU Students interested in learning about the Council can contact Cheryl Chambers at or at 662-325-9161. Feel free to check out our OrgSync page for more information on practices and upcoming events. Practices are generally open to the public, and all are welcome to attend and learn more.

High School Students, Coaches, and Teachers seeking more information about the Council can contact Brett Harvey at or at 662-325-8124. Whether you are considering attending MSU or are looking for advice on starting a high school program, we’d be happy to answer any questions or provide any assistance we can.

For incoming freshmen, note that MSU offers a First Year Experience course, Let Me Speak: Introduction to Competitive Speech and Debate, that lets you earn an hour of credit for learning the basics of intercollegiate forensics competition from our very own Cheryl Chambers. So if you’re interested in joining, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

Social Media

Twitter: @MSUSpeechDebate

Instagram: MSU_SpeechandDebate

Facebook: MSU Speech & Debate Team

OrgSync: Mississippi State University Speech & Debate Council

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