‘Forum for Open Dialogue’: Students Vie for Oratory Prizes


In this day of Twitter, Facebook, and email, there are many ways to communicate quickly with vast audiences. But a student competition hosted by the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric will highlight one of the oldest, most personal, and most important mediums of communication: speech.

Eight students will compete in the speech contest being hosted by the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric on May 21.

“I look forward to seeing the accomplished seniors and talented up-and-coming sophomores and juniors take their speaking so seriously, presenting such polished and caring speeches,” says Christiane Donahue, director of the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric.

The event, free and open to the public, will feature eight student speakers and the awarding of the Benjamin F. Barge Prize to one senior, as well as the Class of 1866 Prize for Oratory to one junior and one sophomore. The competition will take place at 4:30 p.m. on May 21 in the Treasure Room on the first floor of Baker-Berry Library.

Speeches will be about five to six minutes in length, and can address any topic. The speeches have titles such as “In Praise of the Introvert,” “Volition and Determinism: How Free Are Our Minds?,” and “Reading to Children: A Formula for Good.” Speakers are not allowed to use visual aids.

“I have always been fascinated by, and drawn to, speakers with great oratory skills,” says Oladipupo Fasawe ’14, a geography major who will give a talk titled, “Phones: Connecting People in Different Ways.” “I’m looking forward to listening to other people’s speeches and also presenting mine,” he says.

“Communication can take various forms but I feel that speeches are still an excellent manner to send a message to various audiences and hopefully connect with them on profound levels,” says Jamilah Mena ’14, whose speech is titled “Music Education: Providing Access and Opportunity.” “I look forward to this speech competition because it provides a forum for open dialogue regarding an issue about which I am extremely passionate.”

The three judges are Paul Klaas ’74, a trial lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney who has taught legal rhetoric at Dartmouth; Zeynep Turkyilmaz, assistant professor of history; and the Hon. Mary Miles Teachout who serves as a judge in the Vermont Superior Court. The contests are organized by Lecturer of Speech Claudia Anguiano and Senior Lecturer of Speech Joshua Compton.

Each winner will receive a cash prize. Following the speeches, a reception with the announcement of the awards will be held in the Ferguson Room of Baker-Berry Library. The event is sponsored by the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, the Benjamin F. Barge Fund, and the Class of 1866 Fund.

The Institute promotes a culture of writing and rhetoric across disciplines at Dartmouth. Through courses, peer engagement, and sustained faculty conversations, the Institute helps students develop their writing and speaking abilities. The Institute offers courses in writing and speech, and also runs peer-tutorial programs that support students in writing, research, and new media activities.

Keith Chapman