Department of Writing Studies & Rhetoric

Speech and Debate Team

The Speech and Debate Team, also known as Hofstra Forensics, is a program in the Department of Writing Studies and Rhetoric that trains students to compete in debate and public speaking events against peers from dozens of other colleges and universities across the nation.   They participate in several debate formats, as well as 11 individual speech events such as impromptu or persuasive speaking and drama or prose interpretation.

Undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines can join the team, as long as they can invest time in training. Team meetings start at the beginning of each semester, and every member must commit at least 30 minutes a week (and as many as three hours, depending on how many competitive events they’ve registered for) to working with the team director, Adjunct Associate Professor Trent Webb, or the graduate assistants who make up the coaching staff, all of whom are award-winning orators themselves.

The Speech and Debate Team advanced a record-breaking 10 slots at the 2024 National Forensics Association Championship Tournament, placing fifth in Division II Sweepstakes and 16th in the Open Division; as well as a World Champion in Communicaiton Analysis at the 2024 International Forensics Association in Dublin, Ireland – capping a season that included more than 15 competitions with 75 awards, including 13 individual first place wins and nine team awards.

“Our team motto is Truth. Voice. Advocacy. Legacy. We work everyday to ensure our student competitors have the tools necessary to live up to those virtues, both in and out of competition!,” said Professor Webb.

Speech and Debate students in Berlin




Meet the Director

Trent Webb

Professor Webb took over as Director of Forensics and Director of the Speech & Debate Team in 2022. He began his forensics career as a high school student in Texas, going on to win a scholarship at Texas State University, San Marcos, where he became their most decorated competitor in both speech and debate. He moved to New York in 2001 and has spent 20 years coaching on the community college circuit and taking on various leadership positions with speech and debate organizations. In total, he brings more than 30 years of experience in the forensics arts to Hofstra.

The team's history ...

Archival photos of Hofstra's Speech and Debate Team

The Hofstra Speech and Debate Team was started by Dr. Shirlee Sloyer in the late 1950s and participated in intercollegiate debate for several years. Dr. Charles Fleischman restarted the team in 1983 as an individual events team, specializing in publicizing and performance of literature events.

Dr. Fleischman was the coach and director of forensics until his retirement from Hofstra in 2008.  Under his leadership, the team was active on the state, regional and national levels. The team was twice named New York State champion and was also successful on the national level.  It won invitations to compete at the annual National Forensic Association’s individual events championship every year from 1983-2008, ranking ninth nationally in its division in 2000.  

Following Dr. Fleischman’s retirement, the team went on hiatus until it was revived in 2014 with Dr. Tomeka Robinson as director.

Photos courtesy of Hofstra Special Collections

Want more information?


Trent Webb, MA
Director of Forensics
Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Writing Studies & Rhetoric
Hofstra University
O: 516.463.5253