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Voices Matter Audio Essay Contest

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Voices Matter 2018 Logo

FEBRUARY 19, 2019―Last fall, the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication launched its second annual audio essay contest, "Voices Matter," and dozens of University of Delaware students joined the campus-wide conversation with personal and emotional audio essays. Students submitted 2- to 4-minute recorded essays about the First Amendment, considering these questions: Do you feel free to express your opinion?  Have you been affected by hate speech? Have you ever experienced or witnessed censorship? What does the First Amendment mean to you?  How have you made your voice matter? The project ran in tandem with the CPC's National Agenda speaker series, "Midterm Matters," which explored the importance of voter and civic engagement in midterm elections, campaign strategy, news coverage, and polling.

The winners will be announced at the Department of Communication's Speech Limits in Public Life Conference Life kick-off event at Mitchell Hall Auditorium on Thursday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m. The kick-off event features Christian Picciolini as the speaker, an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a former violent extremist. This event is free and open to the community. Essays by all finalists will also be shared at listening stations at the full-day conference on Friday, March 15, at Embassy Suites Newark. The conference is free to college students. Register for one or both events at Winners who are unable to attend will be notified by email.

The Top Ten Finalists

The CPC presents the top ten finalists for the Voices Matter audio essay contest. Judging was based on content; originality and creativity; delivery; and production value. The winners of the winning essays will receive cash awards of $500 to $50 (first place, second place, third place and three honorable mentions), and Delaware Public Media and WVUD will broadcast the top essays.

The Line―Mia Carbone, a sophomore majoring in political science and communication, recalls a class discussion about the contentious Kavanaugh hearings and the trepidation of a lone boy. She considers how ultimately voices can indeed be drowned out.

Politics at the Hostess Station―Christine Colalillo, junior majoring in political science, recounts an angry confrontation with a customer at work, and the valuable lesson she learns about when and where opinions can be expressed. 

Freedom of Speech for All?―Allison Delaney, a senior pursuing a degree in mass communication, considers whether freedom of speech is sometimes upheld at the expense of others. Just as it presents a danger for someone to yell fire in a crowded theater for fear of harm, she ponders, surely the use of hateful language also creates a present danger for those at whom the hate is directed.

She's a Feminist―Delaney DeTitta, a junior majoring in communication, describes her struggles with the label "feminist," which she says has become warped by others into a synonym for misandry. Delaney implores readers to push back against narratives imposed on them by others. 

Just Like My Father―Josh Diehl, a senior who completed his degree in media communication in December 2018, recalls how his father and grandfather would sit and read Bible stories together and how these experiences pushed him to find his voice. He is thankful to live in a country that grants explicit religious freedom to all.

Shut Up and Listen―Eric Hastings, a graduate student who will complete his Master of Public Administration degree in spring 2019. Eric examines the lessons learned when people "shut up and listen," why it is important to do so, and why it is dangerous not to listen. 

The Monster On My Shoulder―Morgan Kolukisa, a junior majoring in English, contemplates the "monster on her shoulder," a metaphor for her identities as a queer woman and as someone who experiences seizures. 

How Can I Speak?―Jenna Lee, a senior pursuing a degree in communication, positions herself in a figurative game of tug of war. She has her own voice but she must often be quiet or censor herself depending upon which situation she finds herself in, be it her liberal friends or her conservative parents. 

When Anti-Semitism Hits Home―Rachel Stamberg, a junior majoring in communication, shares how recent events have made her hesitant about being open with her Jewish identity. Coming from a bubble where anti-Semitism was unheard of, she must now confront the fact that the world can be a scary place. 

The Word―Jymere Stillis-Stanford, a junior majoring in mass communication and psychology, remembers a high school experience when he uses his voice to combat ignorance among his non-Black peers.

About the Contest

​The CPC produced the program in partnership with the University Writing Center, the University of Delaware LibraryDelaware Public Media (WDDE 91.1, WMPH 91.7 and WMHS 88.1), the College of Arts & Sciences Journalism ProgramWVUD Radio (91.3), the University of Delaware Vice Provost for Diversity and the University of Delaware Department of Communication. The CPC debuted the Voices project in 2017 as part of its mission to promote civic engagement. Through nonpartisan, interdisciplinary outreach, the CPC equips students and the community with the political, social, and communication literacy needed to engage in civil discourse. Please email if you have questions or call 302-831-7771.

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Voices Matter Audio Essay Contest
  • Center for Political Communication
  • 190A Graham Hall, 111 Academy Street
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-7771
  • Send us an email
  • Department of Communication
  • Department of Political Science and International Relations