Speech contest mixes emotions, hot issues

by Karin Chesebro | 11/4/93 6:00am

In a talk that won an annual speech contest yesterday, Chris Powers '94 gave a moving account of his battle with cancer and encouraged College students to take advantage of life and its opportunities.

Powers tied with Jennifer Kim '94 for first prize in the annual Barge Oratorical Contest for seniors last night in Dartmouth Hall.

More than 70 students listened to eight finalists speak about their life experiences and controversial issues such as interracial dating and deteriorating American morals during the annual fall speech contest held in Dartmouth Hall.

The speech contest is comprised of two different competitions -- the Class of 1866 Oratorical Contest for sophomores and juniors and the Barge Oratorical Contest for seniors. Both contests have been annual events at Dartmouth for close to a century.

Early last week 20 undergraduates participated in the elimination round and eight of those students advanced to yesterday's final round, four in each competition.

Louis Tucker '95 took first place in the Class of 1866 competition. Tucker, Kim and Powers received cash awards.

The three winners focused on very different topics, and each had their unique styles, but they all succeeded in sharing a piece of themselves with the audience.

Tucker addressed problems facing America today in his speech, called "All Eyes on America." In a fast-paced, enthusiastic manner, Tucker stressed the need to "reaffirm our American values" and do away with double standards.

He spoke about high school violence, the decay of the family unit and the prevalence of violence in entertainment.

Powers focused on his own experiences as a cancer patient. "Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you deal with it," he said in his speech, titled "Attitude and Determination: The Choice is Yours."

Powers encouraged the audience to not take things for granted, to have a vigorous and aggressive attitude toward everyday life and to go after dreams.

Kim addressed the issue of interracial dating in her presentation, "Star-Crossed Lovers." She focused on the often negative reactions of society to such relationships, and stressed that people's reluctance to accept interracial couples stems from historical and political problems rather than from ignorance.

"Love life and politics are like oil and water -- they don't mix," Kim said.

Speech Professor William Brown, co-director of the event, said the personal importance of all the speeches came through in the presentations..

"The speakers had a sense of involvement and spontaneity. They were not here just to say something. They were here to share," Brown said. "They had something on their minds and hearts, and they wanted to do more than just get it out," he said.

Students attending the competition said they were surprised at the honesty and emotion of the speakers.

Keren Estime '97, who attended the contest as a requirement for speech class, said the speeches were "much better than I thought they would be."

"It is a good opportunity for people to share their ideas about issues important to them in a constructive way," Emmie Jones '95 said.

"The winners definitely met my expectations," Andy Silvernail '94 said. "They were able to pin down their emotions and make a connection with the audience."

Brown and Speech Professor Goodwin Berquist co-directed the event. The judges for the event were: Mary Jean Green, an associate dean of the faculty; Richard Sheldon, professor of Russian language and literature; and A. Christopher Strenta, director of institutional research.