A Letter To The Editor:
This letter is concerning the October 23rd article which appeared on the front page of The Picket regarding the closing of the Debate and Forensics Team at Shepherd University. I would like to commend The Picket reporter for the first half of the article which did say what happened to the team and that students were not allowed to enroll for the Debate and Forensics Team with enrollment being shut down the Friday before school started and that inability to enroll extended through the next two weeks.
However, the article turned to speculation when former Debate Team Captain Mr. Timothy Leonard was interviewed after not having been on the team in over a year. There were reasons why Mr. Leonard could no longer be a part of the team. The article gave him an opportunity to plant the idea that there may have been student differences between the director of the program and students. Yet there were no student differences in existence. The current debate team captain was never contacted. No one on the team was interviewed.
When I read Mr. Leonard’s account, he mentioned that class time was a factor in low enrollment. However, what he neglected to mention is that Dr. Webb met with anyone who was interested in being on the team at alternate times according to individual schedules. The later hour has to do with avoiding conflicts with other classes and working in blocks of time to be able to practice in order to get the result we needed to be competitive. It was not the class time when we had at least 15 people who wanted to enroll and couldn’t because registration was closed.
The funding was eliminated from the team with no explanation, and to this day no one from Shepherd University has had a conversation with Dr. Webb or the team regarding the future of the team or why the funding was eliminated. We would like to know where our money went. What about the students who worked all summer to be able to represent their school in the fall? Where is the consideration for their efforts? Some of these students did not return to Shepherd University because there was no team. In the meantime, Shepherd University has lost an important team, which was the only competitive academic team on the campus and had been proudly and successfully representing Shepherd University across the nation and overseas for over 34 years.
Dr. Joyce Webb