Brigance Colloquy Workshop Recap

By Matt Michaloski ’14

The Wabash Rhetoric Department hosted the Brigance Colloquy on Civic Engagement and Public Discourse from February 10-12.  The colloquy kicked off with the annual Brigance Forum Lecture on Monday evening, Feb. 10th. It was given by Dr. Martin Carcasson of Colorado State University on the topic, “Changing the Conversation: The Role of Colleges and Universities in Supporting Community Problem-Solving.” On the next evening of February 11, Dr. Carcasson and visiting students and faculty from other schools gathered in Detchon Hall to participate in a civic engagement workshop. The colleges and universities represented were Allegheny College, Colby College, Colorado State University, Kalamazoo College, and Providence College. Members of the Wabash community had the opportunity to select three sessions and learn about civic engagement efforts being conducted at the visiting schools. The workshop’s goal was to explore the “best practices” for pursuing civic engagement in higher education with an emphasis on applying these ideas to Wabash.

I first attended a workshop presentation given by a professor and student of Providence College which sought to explain their global studies program and its attempts to “localize” global issues. They shared the story of a former student who had been distressed by the large amount of wasted food that he had seen his college throwing out. Being a student in a Community Organizing class, he decided to apply his learning towards a useful goal and created a program which effectively partnered the campus dining service with local organizations for the homeless. His program successfully distributed thousands of pounds of food that would have ended up in the garbage. After its proven success, his program collaborated with a national non-profit to provide education and training on the donation and distribution of spare food. In this way, a college student found an effective way to communicate with his community and organize their efforts to attack a local problem which provided useful information for a larger, national organization and therefore managed to attack the problem on a grand scale though beginning the fight locally. The presenters passed out literature detailing other successful collaborations between the campus and community.

Next, I attended a presentation given by Dr. Carcasson on CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation. This center is partnered with a specialized course on deliberative democracy, and it relies on trained students to facilitate workshops which deliberate on democratic issues. Dr. Carcasson emphasized that the university provided a particularly good forum for community discussions because students happen to be ideal arbitrators: they are somewhat removed from the community issues being discussed but not indifferent; they are good at note-taking and communication; and they tend to be eagerly curious. He mentioned the recent example of community discussions involving the proposal for a new stadium on the CSU campus. The Center gathered information on the arguments about construction by polling and holding public gatherings. It presented this information to the University President, believing that it would enhance his understanding of what things the community most desired.

The last presentation I attended was also given by Dr. Carcasson and concerned the theory behind the work done at the Center for Public Deliberation, which he termed “polarity management.” Organization management is a fairly pragmatic field of study developed by corporate America to better understand the optimal techniques for management. It involves finding the optimum balance between opposite attitudes towards management (between impractical rigidity and aimlessness, for instance). He pointed out both the value of such an understanding for other issues outside of business management and the tendency for political opponents (at all levels from school boards to national politics) to accuse each other of supporting absurd goals. Dr. Carcasson argued that this is typically untrue and that it is wiser to understand that our opponents typically seek a different balance than we do. He used the example of increased TSA restrictions and argued that no one hates liberty and that no one hates safety but that there are many who would prefer one balance of the two to someone else’s. It is his belief that the ideal balance can best be found by coming together to identify the key tensions of an issue, to identify the positives of each possible extreme, and to imagine how they might be balanced.

This evening presented a good opportunity for students of rhetoric to consider several useful applications of their skills, all of which depended on the efforts of undergraduates.

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Brigance Forum Lecture by Dr. Martin Carcasson

By Derek Andre ’16

For such a small campus, Wabash has more than its fair share of speakers come to campus.  No matter the time of year, it seems like there is never a shortage of lectures that students and faculty can enjoy without leaving their own backyard.  But that’s not to say that, for me at least, there aren’t a few highlights on the annual calendar of campus events.  Some of these leading lectures include the LaFollette Lecture in the fall, the College Democrat’s Thomas A. Marshall Lecture in the spring, and, of course, the annual Brigance Forum hosted by the Rhetoric Department.

The Brigance Forum was founded as a yearly lecture intended to honor the late William Norwood Brigance, a Wabash Professor of Speech for nearly forty years from the early 1920s to 1960.  Giving this year’s lecture was Dr. Martín Carcasson, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University.  In layman’s terms, Dr. Carcasson’s Center helps to coordinate public forums and deliberations on behalf of local organizations and government entities in and around Fort Collins, Colorado.  In the past few years, Dr. Carcasson and his students have hosted public deliberations on a variety of topics including water usage, public education, and a new football stadium for Colorado State.

Dr. Carcasson’s lecture, which was entitled “Changing the Conversation: The Role of Colleges and Universities in Supporting Community Problem-Solving,” centered around the role that colleges can play in supporting democracy not only within their communities, but also within their students.  As Dr. Carcasson progressed through his lecture it became clear the optimal way that he feels that colleges can help to promote democracy in their community is to hold public forums and deliberations.

Much of Dr. Carcasson’s rationale behind the usage of deliberation arises from the presence of wicked problems.  For those who don’t know, a wicked problem is one which cannot be solved by traditional means but, rather, involves two or more highly regarded values that are in tension with one another.  The example that was given by Dr. Carcasson put the values of “freedom” and “security” in competition with one another.  Both these values are important to Americans, but we prioritize them in different ways.  According to Dr. Carcasson, the way to deal with these problems is to engage the public in deliberative activities. This way, voices that are not typically heard have the opportunity to speak out and make their opinions known.

Professor Carcasson speaks with Anthony Douglas ’17

Toward the end of the talk, Dr. Carcasson explored the various ways that colleges and universities can play this type of role in their communities. The main way that he said colleges can promote democracy within their communities is to host public deliberations  and public forms regarding contentious issues that arise from wicked problems. This is a step Wabash has already taken. This past fall, the Rhetoric Department partnered with community organizations to host its first Community Conversation, with student as facilitators, on substance abuse in Montgomery County. It was a resounding success and subsequent meetings have been held in order to continue discuss the matter. (You can read more about the forum and community conversations here: https://sites.google.com/site/mccommunityconversations/)

It truly was a pleasure having Dr. Carcasson on campus to give the annual Brigance Lecture. To have such a leading scholar in the field of rhetoric and deliberation come to Wabash was a great opportunity for students, faculty, and community members.

Photos by Corey Egler ’15

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Brigance Colloquy: Civic Engagement Workshop Tuesday February 11

While the Brigance Forum Lecture is Monday night (see previous blog post), a central, interactive component of the Brigance Colloquy on Civic Engagement and Public Discourse is a Tuesday (February 11) night workshop at 7:30 p.m. in Detchon International Hall.

The workshop will be very pragmatic, focusing on a variety of “best practices” for pursuing civic engagement in higher education with an emphasis on applying these ideas to Wabash.  You will get to participate in three, 25-minute interactive sessions of your choosing (out of a larger number available).  Each session will focus on a single topic, and each will be run by a representative from one of the five visiting colleges.  Below are brief abstracts for the workshop topics.

 

Brigance Colloquy on Civic Engagement and Public Discourse

Workshop Session Topics

Allegheny College

Topic #1: Annual Theme and Interdisciplinary Group Study Program

With coordination provided by the Center for Political Participation (CPP), a group of faculty and staff from a range of disciplines and programs has received funding for a two year project linked to the College’s Bicentennial.  At the center of the programming are the Allegheny Group Studies —credit-bearing interdisciplinary courses dedicated to thematic programming addressing the 50th anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These study groups are committed to experiencing the multiple events that comprise the celebrations together. Facilitated by faculty members and student affairs staff, the credit-bearing study groups learn from and reflect upon campus-wide programming designed to raise questions about enhancing our democracy, engaging in discussion of programming, exploring related civic engagement, internship, study abroad, and career opportunities, and producing a record of their collective work through a blog and interactive discussions on Facebook. Both years, 2013/14 and 2014/15, culminate in regional undergraduate research conferences focused on Civil Rights and Voting Rights, respectively. This programming has the potential for affecting the institution’s culture for learning by engaging in a broad, campus-wide conversation on civil rights, disenfranchisement, and inequality that will deepen and sustain students’ civic knowledge, judgment, and engagement.

Colby College

Topic #2: Supporting and Developing Civic Engagement Courses at Colby College

Developing and delivering new civic engagement courses can be daunting for time-strapped faculty.  The Goldfarb Center supports faculty developing and implementing courses in multiple ways.  This session will review what the Goldfarb Center offers to support the development of and implementation of these courses.

Topic #3: Civic Engagement Grants at Colby College

The Goldfarb Center offers competitive grants to faculty and students to support research, internships, and civic engagement courses and projects at Colby.  This session will review the types of grants offered and the administration of such grants.

Topic #4: The Goldfarb Center and the Colby Volunteer Center

The Colby Volunteer Center (CVC) is a student-led center operating under the administrative oversight and support of the Goldfarb Center.  Joined by Program Leader Matt White ’14, Director Josh Balk ’14 will discuss the CVC’s relationship to the Goldfarb Center, the structure and operation of the CVC, and how programs such as Matt’s program, Mule Prep, an SAT test preparation program, work within the Center.

Colorado State University

Topic #5: Polarity Management: Helping Groups Identify and Work through Key Tensions

Wicked problems are particularly difficult to address because of the tensions and competing values that inherently underlie them. This workshop introduces the concept of polarity management as a tool for helping groups develop mutual understanding regarding the key tensions that are connected to their issue, and begin the difficult process of developing and choosing among potential responses to those tensions.

Topic #6: The Student Role in Supporting Community Democracy: The CPD Student Associate Program

Colorado State University’s Center for Public Deliberation serves as an impartial resource for the northern Colorado community, utilizing undergraduate students as a critical aspect of their capacity. Students accepted into the year-long program are trained as small group facilitators, and then assist with the development and implementation of deliberative engagement projects. This workshop will review the development of the program and review specifics regarding its efforts.

Kalamazoo College

Topic #7: Campus Community Partnerships: Through the Lens of Food Justice

Students, faculty, and the community offer one another rich and complex learning opportunities that foster students’ intellectual, personal, and civic growth, and promote “a more just, equitable and sustainable world”  (CCE Mission Statement, 2003). Through sustained partnerships, community members shape the nature and scope of projects, emphasizing both the assets and the needs of their constituencies. We view our partners as our students’ teachers, and we believe that we all learn from one another, sharing equally in the construction of knowledge.  Kalamazoo College has been involved in food justice work for over a decade, partnering with grassroots organizations, a food co-op, government agencies, and public schools to promote access to healthy food and fair labor practices.  From working in community and school gardens to marching for farmworkers rights and advocating for government programs that address root causes of poverty, ongoing partnerships enable students — both inside and outside of courses, in internships and through research projects –to work alongside community members to make  positive change.

Topic #8: Student Leaders as Peer Project Coordinators

The Center for Civic Engagement sustains vibrant, long-term community partnerships in large part through the leadership of   25 – 30 students who hold paid positions as coordinators for programs that engage over 250 of their peers every quarter outside of service-learning courses throughout the academic year.  After a fall retreat, our Civic Engagement Scholars (CESs) recruit, train, “place,” and then continuously supervise their peers who work in ongoing weekly programs (at a minimum of three hours per week).  CESs also facilitate structured reflection, which is a requirement for all students in CCE initiative, and collaborate with our community partners to design and evaluate programming.   With staff oversight, but a great deal of autonomy, these “students as colleagues” essentially work as adjunct staff for the Center, funded by endowment, grants, and federal work study. Two CESs will lead a workshop that describes this program in more detail.

Providence College

Topic #9: Global Studies Model: Localizing Global Issues

This workshop session addresses how incorporating theories and practices from a variety of fields allows for understanding and learning about global systems, while actively engaging in community and igniting social change. Topics explored will include crossing borders, global citizenship and activism, interdisciplinary initiatives, and cross-cultural communications.

Topic #10: Global Service Learning: Immersing Responsibly

Civic engagement within communities around the world allows for direct experience of local traditions and value systems that might differ from those experienced at home. This promotes reflection upon service as a space for collective action, regardless of background, and also upon tensions that might occur as a result of global intervention in local communities. Topics explored in this workshop will include developing intercultural relationships, building sustainable partnerships, and how to integrate local and global service meaningfully.

 

Workshop Schedule

7:30-7:50p:      Opening introductions and organization

7:50-8:15p:      Session 1 (4 topics run simultaneously)

8:15-8:25p:      Break

8:25-8:50p:      Session 2 (4 topics run simultaneously)

8:50-9:00p:      Break

9:00-9:25p:      Session 3 (4 topics run simultaneously)

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Brigance Colloquy on Civic Engagement and Public Discourse

After much planning and through the support of a GLCA New Directions Initiative Grant and Brigance Forum endowed funds, the Rhetoric Department of Wabash College is pleased to announce:

The Brigance Colloquy on Civic Engagement and Public Discourse

February 10-12

This colloquy will draw directors and student representatives from five colleges that are pursuing civic engagement initiatives in a wide variety of ways.  These schools include:

* Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College

* Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University

* Feinstein Institute for Public Service at Providence College

* Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College

* Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement at Kalamazoo College

The colloquy will seek to educate the Wabash community of the diverse ways other colleges are pursuing civic engagement initiatives, and to help us consider how Wabash may strengthen our efforts.  The colloquy will be interdisciplinary in focus.  Visitors represent a wide array of disciplines, including all three divisions and a Global Studies program.

There are several public events associated with the colloquy that we encourage students, faculty, and staff to attend.  These public events include:

Keynote Address (as our annual Brigance Forum lecture): Dr. Martin Carcasson, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University, will present, “Changing the Conversation: The Role of Colleges and Universities in Supporting Community Problem-Solving.”  Dr. Carcasson is a leading scholar and practitioner of deliberative communication practices and their role in a range of communities.  February 10 at 7:30pm in Baxter Hall, 101 Lovell Lecture Room.

Civic Engagement Workshop: The workshop will be very pragmatic, focusing on a variety of “best practices” for pursuing civic engagement in higher education with an emphasis on applying these ideas to Wabash.  You will get to participate in three, 25-minute interactive sessions of your choosing (out of a larger number available).  Each session will focus on a single topic, and each will be run by a representative from one of the five visiting colleges.  February 11 from 7:30-9:30pm in Detchon International Hall.

Lunchtime Informational Sessions: Representatives from the visiting colleges will provide snapshots of their programs in two separate panels—one composed solely of the directors of the centers, and one composed solely of the students who will accompany them.  Both panels will provide an overview of the types of activities, programs, and models these schools use to pursue civic engagement efforts, from the perspective of the directors who run them and from students who participate in them.  Time will be reserved for Q&A with the audience.  The two panels will occur simultaneously from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. on both February 11  and February 12 in Baxter Hall.  (Directors in Baxter 114, and their students in Baxter 202.)

Open “office hours” with the visiting schoolsRepresentatives from the visiting colleges will be available for any members of the Wabash community to drop in and chat with about the guests’ programs, ideas you may have for Wabash, or to follow-up on topics from earlier colloquy events.   February 11 from 2:30-4pm and February 12 from 9:30-10:30am in Baxter Hall Rogge Lounge.

We are excited about the numerous opportunities the colloquy will provide to explore civic engagement in its many forms—and we hope to see you at the events!

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2013 Moot Court Finals

By Matthew Michaloski ’14

Students, faculty, alumni, and guests gathered in Salter Hall on the evening of October 29th to witness the final round of the 20th Wabash College Moot Court Competition. Thirty-six students competed in this year’s competition, and from them four finalists were chosen and given the opportunity to simulate arguing a case addressing the following question in front of the Supreme Court:

Whether a state violates the Equal Protection Clause by amending its constitution to prohibit race and sex-based discrimination or preferential treatment in public-university admissions decisions.

The members of the Wabash Supreme Court panel were Hon. Steve David (Indiana Supreme Court), Hon. Debra McVicker Lynch (United States District Court), Wabash President Gregory D. Hess, and Dr. Lloyd T. Wilson ’77 (Indiana University McKinneyS School of Law) who served as Chief Justice for the evening. Arguing in favor of the state’s right to create such an amendment were political science majors Adam Alexander ’16 and Nash Jones ’16. They were challenged by rhetoric and political Science major Jacob Burnett ’15 and German major Cory Kopitzke ’14. The four presented their arguments in turn and were interrupted, questioned, and challenged by the judges all the while. The judges were interested in taking each of the finalists’ arguments quite seriously and probed them with the same intimidating thoroughness that one might expect from a real oral argument.

Alexander and Jones presented their arguments first. Alexander argued that affirmative action policies lie outside the original intent of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment as such policies are created with the intent to increase racial diversity and entail using race as a factor to affect admissions decisions. Alexander presented a different solution which would create more opportunities for all students: admissions evaluations that consider socio-economic standing. He used statistical evidence from school systems in California to show that legislation encouraging this policy has been linked to higher enrollment of minority students without relying on racial preferences.

Jones, arguing on the same side of the case, defended the state’s position by stating that the state amendment does not place an excessive burden on minorities by banning classifications based on race for admissions decisions. He reminded the court that the proposed amendment banned classifications of other sorts too (sex, national origin) and that the sum of all the minorities who stood to profit from affirmative action policies actually constituted a majority of university applicants.

The challengers’ arguments were heard next. Burnett reminded the court that there was legal precedent for upholding the option of affirmative action policies and argued that the state had a compelling interest in increasing racial diversity among students. He reminded the court that there was a disparity between the graduation rates of whites and blacks prior to the implementation of affirmative action admissions policies and that the latter group is inherently disadvantaged. It is therefore the responsibility of the state, bound by its obligation to equal protection, to protect underserved minorities by allowing racial discrimination in admissions decisions.

Kopitzke was given the final word before the judges left to deliberate. He argued that there are hurdles placed before certain minority groups that are not slowing others. The goal of affirmative action policies is to remove those hurdles and grant the equal opportunities otherwise denied to them. Political power would be allocated in a way that unduly burdens minority students if the amendment were to be upheld by the court, and this situation would be irrevocable if a constitutional amendment were passed. It should, then, be in the hands of individual admissions boards to decide on the value of such policies.

The state’s litigators were permitted to give a brief rebuttal, and then the judges left to deliberate off-stage. During this time Salter Hall buzzed with opinions, assessments of the finalists’ presentations, and predictions. The judges returned and awarded the prize to Cory Kopitzke ’14 for his superior preparation and composure. Each judge took time to congratulate the contestants and to praise them for an excellent understanding of the case.The judges seemed to agree on three things in particular: each contestant was extraordinarily well prepared with the subtleties of the topic; each managed to focus on the argument before him without wandering; and each exhibited remarkable calm and composure while responding to the difficult task of arguing a case before a panel of legal experts with their classmates and friends looking on. According to one judge, the four finalists (each of whom hopes to attend law school after Wabash) exhibited a level of legal prowess that matches that of many current law students. One goal of the Moot Court event is to offer the school a demonstration of excellent argumentation and oratory; the judges seemed to be unanimously agreed that this year’s finalists did just that!

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2013 LaFollette Lecture

34th LaFollette Lecture Presented by Dr. Todd McDorman
Coverage by Matt Michaloski ‘14

The purpose of the annual LaFollette Lecture, so named in honor of former trustee, Charles D. LaFollette, is to connect one professor’s special discipline with the humanities. This year, the committee honored Rhetoric Department Professor Todd McDorman with an invitation to present. He accepted the honor, and on Oct. 10th, in front of a full house at Salter Hall, Dr. McDorman presented his lecture, “One for the Books: Rhetoric, Community, and Memory.”

Dr. McDorman was introduced by former LaFollette lecturer and Classics Professor Jeremy Hartnett. He informed the audience about Dr. McDorman’s lifelong love for baseball and how Dr. McDorman decided to forgo his plans for law school after developing an interest in rhetoric as an undergraduate, an interest which he now works with academically. After taking the podium and expressing his gratitude for being chosen to lecture, Dr. McDorman quickly made clear that the topic of his lecture would link his love for baseball and his professional interest in rhetorical studies: He intended to analyze the rhetorical effects of a new exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, titled “One for the Books” (an exhibit which I happened to witness on a trip to Cooperstown last August!).

One of the goals of rhetoric, Dr. McDorman argued, is to reveal our ideals and to shape or define our communities. Baseball, he claimed, has always been a window through which one may see many of the values dearest to the American spirit: fair play, justice, democracy. The exhibit in question houses records of great statistical achievements and relics of those ballpark saints who achieved them. These sacred statistics have, however, been profaned by the unfortunate but not easily ignored performance-enhancing drug (PED) scandal. Dr. McDorman spent some time reviewing the details of the scandal with reference to the well-known stories of Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire. The problem for baseball, argued McDorman, was not only that the sacred records of many baseball legends were shattered by those using or suspected of using PEDs but also that the very spirit of baseball, which honors hard work and fair play, was perceived as challenged by these tainted records.

Dr. McDorman suggested that the “One for the Books” exhibit, though committed to telling the story of the PED-era records, admits implicitly that the statistics contained within can be misleading or even useless if they are divorced from context. The exhibit, he argues, represents an attempt both to rescue the dignity of baseball and to keep from omitting the records set by players partaking in questionable acts. The exhibit redefines public memory by marginalizing tainted records in an effort to protect the social identity and the solidarity of the baseball community. This is achieved in subtle ways. For instance, the exhibit de-emphasizes the home run record, typically at the center of statistical attention, by placing its display case beyond those of several less tainted records such as those for season RBI and career batting average.

Dr. McDorman also commented upon the physical orientation of some of the relics in the exhibit. There is a Hank Aaron uniform in a prominent glass case which stands erect on a mannequin. The museum placed Barry Bonds’s record-breaking homerun ball in a small case directly behind the uniform as if to suggest that the great hero of yesteryear is turning his back to the dishonorable scandals of the present. The museum, and the baseball community more generally, elevates the players of the highest character – like Lou Gehrig, Hank Aarons, and Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball wants to channel the values that are forever attached to these heroes and thus it holds their records sacred while calling attention to the fact that other records, while impressive, may have been tainted and ought to be regarded with suspicion. I don’t believe it surfaced in the lecture, but perhaps the most telling statement is the fact that one won’t see a plaque for Bonds or McGwire or other PED suspects hanging in the Hall itself as they have not been elected by the baseball writers. This is a clear act of separation between what is regarded as sacred and what has been profaned.

Dr. McDorman concluded his talk by summing up his observations and judgments of the exhibit. The museum has employed rhetoric, a specific and deliberate presentation, to reformulate the collective memory of baseball and to protect the community. By rearranging details and strategically de-emphasizing certain records, it reconfirms the identity of baseball as America’s national pastime. This baseball fan and student of the liberal arts found the lecture fascinating and will, perhaps like many others present for the lecture, look upon the game with new eyes.

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2013 Baldwin Oratorical Contest

By Matt Michaloski ‘14

Four Wabash men took the stage in Korb Classroom last Wednesday (April 10) to compete in the 139th annual Baldwin Oratorical Contest. The nature of the contest was to present a short oration on an issue in the local community and to advocate a solution; its prize was a cash reward, a copy of the complete works of William Shakespeare, and a spot on the Baldwin plaque that hangs in the Ball Theater Lobby. President Patrick White, Wabash First Lady Chris White, former Baldwin contest winner Donovan Bisbee ’12, and Marc Lotter, Communications Director for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, served as judges for the competition. A large number of students and faculty braved the poor weather to witness this exciting exercise in civic engagement, and I’m confident that they also learned some new information about the issues addressed by the speakers (The video for the contest is available here).

The contest began with Corey Hamilton’s speech (class of 2014), who chose to address the homeless in Montgomery County. He provided statistics to show that homelessness is a big issue in the area even if it is not visible. Most dislodged families, he said, tend to board with friends for short spans of time and move around from home to home. While there are not people living in the streets of Crawfordsville as in larger cities, there are still many families struggling to raise children without the benefit of a stable home.

He then emphasized the success that Habitat for Humanity has had in providing low-cost homes and turning bad situations around, work that they cannot do without massive volunteer effort. Fraternity freshmen tend to be drafted into Fall Semester work with Habitat, but the number of Wabash volunteers dwindles in the Spring. Hamilton appealed to Wabash’s commitment to “living humanely” and challenged members of the Wabash community to share their time and strength with this important organization throughout the year, reminding us that there are mothers, fathers, and children suffering without a home in our very own community. Notably, Hamilton announced his intention to volunteer with Habitat the Saturday following the competition and encouraged his audience to join him.

Scott Purucker ’16 was the second contestant and spoke about the benefits of transitioning Lacrosse from a club to a varsity sport at Wabash. He spoke about the rising popularity of Lacrosse nationally and the difficulties that the team currently faces with minimal financing from the Student Senate. He shared statistics and charts to illustrate the impressive growth of the sport and the funding deficit between the current funds and those that would be needed to fund a varsity team. These funds are needed to supply safety equipment, game day equipment, and travel costs. The most powerful argument he summoned was highlighting that Wabash is one of only two NCAC schools that still lacks varsity Lacrosse and is thus hurting itself in terms of prestige and admissions strategy by omitting a sport that will only continue to grow in popularity. It seemed to resonate with the audience quite strongly when he reminded us that DePauw University has already created a varsity team… ahead of Wabash.

The solution that Purucker offered is simple: we should demonstrate our interest in the sport to the college in two ways. First, we should raise attendance at games and show more support. Second, we should write to incoming president Dr. Hess to lobby for varsity status for the team.

The third contestant was Justin Taylor ’15, who delivered a passionate speech calling his Wabash brothers to practice greater love and acceptance. He began his speech by praising MLK Jr., whom he saw as a great hero in the timeless fight against discrimination in every form. Taylor argued that the new target of oppression is the homosexual community, and that the Wabash homosexual community is the frequent victim of careless comments and insensitivity. He first framed the practical reasons for fighting this type of discrimination: the rates of depression and suicide are higher in the gay community. The impacts of insensitivity and discrimination are felt at every level of society, including our children, who are becoming trained to perpetuate this discrimination. Our careless comments and meanness can have real consequences.

Taylor was not content only to explain by reason why discrimination is harmful. He reflected on his own experiences as a gay student at Wabash and the turmoil that plagued him as he recognized his own sexuality while hearing gay slurs and intolerance at Wabash. Taylor invoked the principles of our college and challenged his audience to eliminate the slurs that seem so harmless but cause real pain. In so doing, we can join the fight against discrimination and fulfill our duty to love one another. It only takes an awareness of the harm that jokes and slurs can cause and a willingness to eliminate them.

Zach Thompson ’13 delivered the final speech of the evening by outlining two easy improvements that would make our downtown area more “walkable.” Thompson, a Crawfordsville native, has learned through conversation about the idyllic past of downtown Crawfordsville which was once a hub for business and sociability among the community. This atmosphere was spoiled by the gradual increasing of traffic along Highway 231 and the dispersion of local business. The lost benefits of walkability are improved health, sociability, and the statistical evidence for higher civic engagement and lower crime in more face-to-face communities.

Thompson offered two simple solutions for improving the area and attracting walkers: we should petition the city council to adjust crosswalk lights to facilitate faster crossings for waiting pedestrians, and we should beautify our city with more trees and benches. Currently, it is quite tedious to cross 231 because of long wait times at the traffic lights even at times of day when traffic is relatively light. The opportunity to plant trees involves little cost and could involve volunteer work from Wabash, boosting the college-town relationship. The effects of the beautification process could improve this relationship also by attracting more students to the downtown area.

The judges selected Thompson’s speech for the evening’s top award due to the superior clarity and simplicity of the solutions offered.  Every finalist received the complete works of William Shakespeare in keeping with the tradition of the contest, and the finalists earned cash prizes as well.

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