Several Hillsdale College students will be competing in this year’s Everett Oratory Contest for the chance at winning a $3,000 prize. They will be presenting speeches on the topic of “National Security and Privacy: Principles for Achieving a Just Balance.” Each student will be delivering a speech with their own approach to this issue.
The competitors are junior Ellen Friesen, senior Daniel Cody, freshman Taryn Murphy, junior Shiloh Carozza, and senior Jacob Weaver. They will be delivering their speeches on March 20 at 11 a.m. at an event open to campus. The panel of judges will be led by President Larry Arnn and will include guests invited by the rhetoric department. Every year, students must prepare a speech within the confines of a certain topic.
Planning for the contest is a continual responsibility, according to Rhetoric and Public Address Department Chairman Kirstin Kiledal. Preparation for next year begins as soon as the competition ends, she said, in order to have possible topics to choose from in the fall semester.
“Once that topic is released, then we enter the application period,” she said. “This year we had 21 students apply, and most of them kept that application through and competed in the preliminary round.
The number of prelimintary rounds determines determines the number of actual rounds, and whether there is a semi-final round.
“This year, we were beneath that breaking point, so we did not have to have a semi-final round,” Kiledal said.
Kiledal said the number of competitors determines how many preliminary rounds occur. There were not enough competitors this year, so there will be no semi-final round. The final stage of the competition is usually planned to coincide with CCA IV every spring semester. This allows the students to showcase their talent to visitors, she said.
“It also means that the students have a good audience for their messages,” she said.
As a freshman, this is Murphy’s first year participating in the Everett Contest. But she’s no stranger to giving speeches. She decided to compete in the Everett because of a passion for public speaking she gained from six years of debate and speech competitions in middle school and high school, she said in an email.
“The Everett contest seemed like a wonderful opportunity to participate in an activity I love while also speaking about a pertinent issue,” she said.
Murphy is focusing on the Founders’ views of the security-privacy debate. She’s taking the stance that privacy is more effective at protecting the nation than “the government’s sweeping national security policies.”
She has used various techniques to practice her memorization and delivery of the speech.
“I memorize best when I type or write something out repeatedly, which helps to form a mental image of what I’m going to be saying,” she said. “Once I’ve retyped my speech a few times, I’ll begin trying to recite and memorize the speech in reverse order. It’s a technique I learned in high school, which encourages a speaker to memorize the last paragraph first, then the second to last paragraph, etc. This helps a speaker to confidently know what he or she is moving towards in the speech.”
This is Weaver’s first time competing in the contest. He decided to apply after taking a speech class with Assistant Professor of Speech Matthew Doggett.
“He encouraged me to pursue the Everett this year,” Weaver said. “With that encouragement, I decided to try it out.”
Weaver said his speech will be focusing on the Fourth Amendment and its ability to create a balance between security and privacy. He and his housemate, senior Daniel Cody, have practiced their speeches together. But Weaver said he is trying to make sure his speech conveys his authentic beliefs.
“I don’t want it to sound like a rehearsed speech that I’ve given a million times,” he said. “I want it to sound, in a way, like a conversation.”
Weaver encouraged more students to get involved with the Everett Contest.
“You get practice and a shot at some good money,” he said.