A tradition abandoned in 1969, the oratorical contest is back at the College of Charleston due to the efforts of junior Tanner Crunnelle. Crunnelle was inspired by a speech said by Francis “Frank” Sturcken in 1951 called the “The Liquid South.” At that time, the College became a private institution in order to avoid desegregation. Sturcken argued in his speech for the college to rethink its decision and advocated for integration.
Inspired by Sturcken’s use of the Robert Worth Bingham Oratorical Contest in 1951 to advocate for social justice, Tanner Crunnelle has pushed for the Sturcken Memorial Oratorical. He is bringing back the oratorial tradition so students can have an outlet where they can voice their grievances and propose solutions on how to create progress in social justice on campus. Crunelle explained his goal for the oratorical competition to The College Today, “Many of my black peers had really wonderful ideas about how to bring about progress on campus, but there wasn’t a forum to do so. We often tell people that it’s important to be civically engaged, but we don’t always provide the networks in order to do that.”
However, Crunnelle hopes that the impact of the competition is long-lasting. The winner of the competition will receive the support of a network of the College’s offices who can help realize the idea proposed in their speech. In addition, the winner will receive a $500 prize.
The competition will consist of two rounds. The first one includes a brief written submission due on Sept. 23 in which a student highlights a problem on campus and proposes a solution on how to fix it. Students will be invited to a second round where they will elaborate on their proposals in five to nine minute presentations on Oct. 13. The speeches will be judged by a panel consisting of two students, two faculty members, a campus administrator and a community leader. The presentations are open to the public and will take place in the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center in room 101.
For more information on the oratorical, please see this link: http://studentaffairs.cofc.edu/sturcken/index.php.