Mock trial team seeks funds for tournament

The GW Mock Trial Team has earned the opportunity to send two of its three teams to Minnesota for national competition, but the team is struggling to find financial support for the trip.

Mock Trial Team coach Jason Kropp said the invitation is an incredible accomplishment for a team in only its third year of existence. The team won the right to participate in the national contest after an impressive performance at an east regional tournament last weekend. But he said the national tournament, which will take place March 26-28, is expensive.

With hotel bills and airfare, tournaments cost nearly $500 a person. With 18 students and three coaches planning to attend, the competition cost is nearly $10,000, and the team is struggling to obtain the University’s help, Kropp said.

“From mock trial, I’ve learned a lot about how the University works or doesn’t work,” said freshman captain Joe Ura. “They have not been very supportive.”

“We’re really lobbying with the University,” Kropp said. “The fact that we need to scrape together pennies doesn’t reflect well on the University.”

He said he feels the young team can and already has brought positive recognition to GW, and therefore deserves financial support. Ura said he noticed in competitions that other area universities seem to have more financial assistance from their administration.

“There are some colleges that receive a lot of money,” Ura said.

Rhoda Fisher, special assistant to GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, said assistance from the president’s discretionary fund to the GW Mock Trial Team helped the students pay for their national tournament expenses, but she said that was a one-time occurrence.

“When there is a situation where a team promotes a certain level of excellence, a University contribution is made,” Fisher said. But once a team has taken from the fund, Fisher said it cannot do so again.

Trachtenberg is out of the country and unavailable for comment.

The team is looking for private contributions because $500 seems a daunting price for most team members, Ura said. He said he worries the team will be unable to afford the tournament.

“If we don’t get the money, a team from Georgetown will be taking our place,” Ura said. “That is something I’m not too happy about at all.”

But as they attempt to raise money for the tournament, the team is also preparing their case.

Team members and advisers, Kropp and pre-law adviser Elizabeth Fabrizio, work together to develop research skills and dissect fictitious court cases for competition.

“We feel our way through it as a team,” said Ura, whose freshman team represents one of the two nationally ranked teams advancing to the American Mock Trial Association’s Silver Flight Tournament. “We have a really good shot to do well.”

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