The University of Texas tradition in forensics is one of the oldest programs at UT. Starting as the Athaeneum Literary Society, the first student organization on campus began even before the University’s charter was completed.
In 1909, the University of Texas joined the Delta Sigma Rho national forensic honorary society, and has competed nationally in intercollegiate forensics ever since. Official records of UT’s involvement in extemporaneous speaking and oratorical contests date to the 1920’s, with UT serving as host to numerous high school and collegiate contests from the 1930’s and onward. UT sent student representatives to the first, second, and third Delta Sigma Rho NationalStudent Congresses from 1938-1941.
UT began hosting high school invitational tournaments and summer workshops in forensics in the 1950’s. UT’s National Institute in Forensics (UTNIF) is now one the country’s largest and most comprehensive summer programs for high school students, bringing almost 450 students to the University of Texas each summer.
In 1988, the speech and debate portions of the Texas Forensic Union were split as the University of Texas began its history of involvement with the American Forensic Association’s National Individual Events Tournament (NIET). UT has been a regular participant in the National Debate Tournament (NDT) and the NIET every year since that time.