Upperclassmen sound off in speech contest

by Megan Peck | 5/11/04 5:00am

Public speaking may be most Americans' single greatest fear, but for five finalists in speech contests on Monday night, oratory proved both enjoyable and materially rewarding.

Three seniors and two underclassmen participated in the final round of two competitions held annually by the Office of Speech -- the Benjamin F. Barge Prize for Oratory Speech Contest for Seniors and The Class of 1866 Oratorical Prize Speech Contest.

Each participant delivered an approximately 10-minute persuasive argument on a subject of his or her choosing. Afterward, a panel of three professors judged their performances and Office of Speech chair Jim Kuypers announced the winners of the competitions.

Kailin Kroetz '05 won the Class of 1866 speech contest for her address, entitled "Behind Closed Doors in the American Hog Industry: Where Cruelty Knows No Bounds," and Niaz Karim '04 captured the Barge prize for his speech, "Investing in Alternative Energy: The Intersection of Big Bucks and Doing Good."

Kroetz also beat out all other finalists in both contests to win the overall grand prize. In her winning speech, she argued that "the decline and replacement of family-run hog farms has led to the unethical treatment of hogs."

Kroetz chose the topic for her speech after extensive background research.

"I feel that it's something that people don't know about in general and I hope that people think about it and are confronted with it," Kroetz said.

Karim, the other contest winner, focused on the investment possibilities available with alternative sources of energy. He argued that investors in renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydrogen power will profit while simultaneously helping to solve environmental issues.

As he stated in his winning speech, "I don't just want you guys to become tree huggers. I want you to become rich tree huggers."

The Benjamin F. Barge Prize for Oratory Speech has been an annual Dartmouth event since 1901, when Benjamin Barge created the contest. Though Barge only spent his sophomore year at Dartmouth (he went on to graduate from Yale University), the speech contest he began lasted over 100 years. The competition showcases persuasive arguments by senior undergraduates.

Four years after the founding of Barge's creation, a group of four Dartmouth alumni founded the Class of 1866 Oratorical Prize Speech Contest, open to sophomores and juniors. Speeches in this competition must be both persuasive and informative. Like the Barge contest, this second annual competition has also attracted aspiring orators for nearly a century.

Both speech contests were open to all eligible students, and a total of 28 students entered. All of the contests' contestants gave a five to seven minute speeches in a preliminary round last week, and three finalists from each contest were chosen to move on to the final round.

However, only two finalists delivered speeches for the Class of 1866 Oratorical Prize Speech contest due to a last minute withdrawal.

Kuypers emphasized that the contests were open to students of all disciplines. Furthermore, he added that any topic was acceptable.

"Freedom of speech is incredibly important. Whether a speech is political, religious, humorous or serious, it's definitely welcome," Kuypers said.

Dan Donoho '06 placed second in the Class of 1866 contest. William Rack '04 placed second in the Barge contest and Alston Ramsay '04 placed third.

All finalists won a set of books on speech, a crystal plaque and a cash prize. The grand-prize winner also won a House of Staunton heirloom-quality boxwood and ebony chest.

The competition was held in 105 Dartmouth Hall and was followed by a reception in the faculty lounge at the Hopkins Center.