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A student walking along East St. Mary.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s speech and debate team is starting a new non-competitive performance group called MUSE (Meaning Using Spoken Experiences), which they hope to launch this fall.

“We have people we know who want to do speech or want to do something similar to speech and maybe who don’t want to do the competitive side or don’t have time to do the competitive side,” Hannah Broussard, captain of the speech and debate team, said.

According to Broussard, this group does not just include debating.

“We’re highlighting using your voice, so you can use spoken word, it could be something related to speech, sort of like an interp (interpretation), or doing some kind of improv, or it could be singing,” Broussard said. “We’re just trying to highlight performance using the voice in a non competitive manner.”

“Interp” can be described as interpretation or acting events in the speech and debate competition.

According to Broussard, competitive performing takes a large amount of time and effort, and she realizes many interested in performing may not have the time to compete.

Alex Curione, co-captain of the speech and debate team, shared the impact performance had on their life.

“It has helped me in my own life because it allowed me to share my own experiences with individuals not even with just my speech and debate team but with my family and even in my own workplaces,” said Curione.

Although Broussard and Curione have competed in speech and debate for several years, they said they have noncompetitive performance experience from community and high school theatre.

“My biggest message is that people are people and everyone has a voice,” Curione said. “Most of society today has drowned out the voices of those who need to be heard, and with this organization, and even within speech and debate, we’re allowed to share those voices.”

Broussard said they were hoping to have meetings once a month before the novel coronavirus outbreak, but now thinks planning may have to be put on hold for this semester.

Currently, there is a roster set up to join MUSE where 12 others have signed up, and Broussard has sent a constitution to the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership that is waiting for approval.

“I’m not personally aware of any funding opportunities from the university for student organizations like this,” Chas Womelsdorf, coach of the speech and debate team, said in a statement to The Vermilion. “But, the team will partner with MUSE to fundraise for MUSE if appropriate.”

According to Womelsdorf, although the idea primarily came from performance studies, how the group is run and manifested is up to the students.

“So, yes the idea comes from me to an extent, but it's based on a need that many campuses have, and it’s in the context of discussions with Burke Theatre folks,” said Womelsdorf.

The decision of venues and performances are primarily up to the students and entirely separate from the team, clarified Womelsdorf.

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