College to host annual public speaking contest

Sarah Hummel, Crier Staff

On Tuesday, March 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Dana 1D, the college will hold its annual public speaking contest, hosted by the English Department. The three award-winning speeches will be reprised on Wednesday, April 10 at 12:30 pm in the same location. Students of all majors and classes were invited to submit an outline or description by Friday, March 1 at noon. As of the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27, seven entries had been submitted. The first prize winner will receive $300, and the second and third place winners will each receive $100. The theme of the contest changes every year, and this year’s theme is the following: “(Dis)connected: How has social media changed us?”

The contest is sponsored by alumna Anne Botteri, class of 1982. Botteri, an English major graduate, was co-editor of the Saint Anselm Crier and went on to hold various positions at the college and at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Botteri’s sponsorship allows the contest to be an annual event which, according to Professor Jonathan Lupo, advances the “ongoing vibrancy of the community.”

The theme “(Dis)connected: How has social media changed us?” recognizes the influence of social media on 21st century life. Professor Lupo explains that this theme “presupposed” that social media has, in fact, had a tremendous impact on people’s lives. He is curious to hear how students will approach the theme, given that students of today have grown up with social media.

According to Professor Lupo, the goal of the annual public speaking contest is to be a “showcase for public speaking on campus,” supplementing other forums like the Conversatio program and class presentations. The contest is a way of celebrating the talent of Saint Anselm students. Yet the contest also serves a small democratic purpose. Professor Lupo states that the contest is a civic engagement experience that allows student speakers to “participate in the public square.” Audience members also participate by evaluating “their own roles as a public speaker” as well as their role in the civic community.

A novelty of this year’s contest is in its judging: this is the first year in which a student will be a judge. Alexandros Pandazis, Class of 2019, has won the contest previously and has been chosen to be a judge for this year’s contest.

The judging process is two-fold. Professor Lupo will select students to participate based on submitted outlines and descriptions. After the remaining speeches are presented on March 26, Professor Lupo, Alexandros Pandazis, and a third judge (to be determined) will select three winning speeches based on the substance, presentation style, and “creative approach to the theme,” according to Professor Lupo.

Professor Lupo, who is coordinating the contest this year, states that he is pleased with how the contest has “matured” over the last few years. He is eager to hear what students are thinking about “in the current moment.”

The contest on March 26 is a public event, and all are invited to attend.