Hyde Park Forum gives rewards for best speeches

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Students competed last night in what City Manager David Ruller called the speech version of “American Idol” – the annual Hyde Park Forum, a persuasive speaking contest sponsored by the School of Communication Studies.

Ruller judged the final round of the competition as part of a 14-member panel of university, local business and government officials.

One student from each of six preliminary rounds was chosen to compete in the final round, which took place at 7:30 p.m. yesterday in Room 306 of the Student Center.

Juliana Jerse, freshman fashion merchandising major, won the $500 first prize for a speech about global warming.

“What if you couldn’t visit your favorite polar bear at the zoo because of his tragic death?” Jerse asked at the beginning of her speech.

Jerse’s speech focused on the negative impacts of warming on human and animal life.

She said she chose her topic after seeing former Vice President Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth.

Candice Jones, junior communications studies major, won the $300 second prize for a talk encouraging professors to abolish exams.

Jones said exams cause students unnecessary depression and anxiety.

Post-secondary student Rachel Smith won the $100 third prize for a speech denouncing genetically engineered food.

She said 70 percent of food in the United States and Canada is genetically modified and stressed possible negative health effects.

All participants received flowers and gift certificates.

Students from sections of Introduction to Human Communication, a basic communication course, were encouraged to enter the contest.

Barbara Hugenberg, course coordinator and organizer of the forum, said she wanted all of her undergraduate students to have the chance to compete.

“I’m a very big believer in this because I believe the health of our democracy depends on people being able to exercise their voice,” Hugenberg said.

The competition is named for Hyde Park in London, where people traditionally give speeches on any topic.

Contact news correspondent Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].