Speech Contest Focuses on Presidential Race

By Scott Mitchell
Staff Writer

During a period of political conflict which only rolls around once every four years, seven Brookhaven College students spent their personal time researching and rehearsing in an effort to persuade an audience to vote for a presidential candidate of their choosing, as well a chance at some quick cash.
The sixth annual Brookhaven Speech Contest, sponsored by the Institute of Political Science, Phi Theta Kappa and the Brookhaven Speech Department, took place in the K Building’s lecture hall on Nov. 5. The purpose of the contest was for Brookhaven students to choose a topic related to the 2012 presidential election and endorse one of the candidates based on that topic.
In order to compete in the contest, students had to submit an outline of their speeches by Oct. 22.  There were 12 open slots for students, of which seven were filled. The students involved competed for cash prizes ranging from $100-$300.
Students who submitted their outlines then had to meet with a speech professor to practice their speeches. The purpose of this was to make sure that their speeches fit within the time limit. In addition to this, the students were required to submit their final PowerPoint presentations by Nov. 2. Delryn Fleming, an English and speech professor, said a speech is “50 percent organization.”
The students who competed spoke on a variety of topics, from reducing oil dependency to requiring photo identification to vote. The competing students took various levels of involvement, ranging from metaphysical condemnation to sharing personal experiences.
One theme united these students: They all believed the candidate they endorsed would lead America toward a newer, more prosperous nation.  Aimee Schwab, a government student who won first place in the competition, said the common sentiment of all the speeches was, “Is the vision of our future the same as our past?”
Government professor Mian Ahad Hayaud-Din, who was one of the faculty members directly involved with the competition, said the speech competition “creates a bridge between departments.” Because of the topic and the way in which students were expected to display information, the involvement of both the political science and the speech programs were required.
Once the students had all given their speeches, three judges tallied up the points each had received and declared the winner. Aimee Schwab won first place, Renee Exler won second and Taylor Kirk won third.
Schwab, who delivered a speech titled “Oil: What is it Good For?” emphasized the differences of the two major party presidential candidates on the topic of fossil fuels. After establishing her support for President Barack Obama, she gave reasons that drilling for oil is environmentally harmful.
Schwab said the driving factor that caused her to enter the competition was not the potential for monetary gain, but instead said it was an interesting topic.
The sponsoring faculty were pleased with the speeches, and said students’ ability to plan and practice for something that wasn’t part of the curriculum was a sign of their devotion.