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Voices Matter Audio Essay Contest

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UD students: Let your voices be heard!

Join the campus-wide conversation. 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? Submit a 2- to 4-minute recorded essay about your experience.

The University of Delaware invites UD students to join the campus-wide conversation with "Voices Matter," the second annual audio essay contest hosted by the Center for Political Communication. This fall, students can submit audio essays about hate speech, free speech, and the First Amendment. The project will run in tandem with the Center for Political Communication's Fall 2018 National Agenda Speaker Series, "Midterm Matters," which addresses the importance of voter and civic engagement in midterm elections, campaign strategy, news coverage, and polling. The Voices of the Divide program is presented in collaboration with the University Writing Center, the University of Delaware LibraryDelaware Public Media (WDDE 91.1 and WMPH 91.7), the College of Arts & Sciences Journalism Program, the University of Delaware Department of CommunicationWVUD Radio (91.3), and the University of Delaware Vice Provost for Diversity.

All voices matter when it comes to sharing and understanding new perspectives. In Speaking Out Loud, 2017 Voices Producer Anne Grae Martin describes the importance of bringing such a platform to students.

Prizes: First Prize is $500, Second Prize is $250, Third Prize is $100, and three Honorable Mention Prizes of $50 each. WDDE and WVUD will broadcast the winning essays. Winners will be invited to attend an awards banquet with University leadership coinciding with the "Speech Limits in Public Life: The Intersection of Free Speech and Hate" conference in March 2019.

Important Dates: Entries must be electronically submitted by 11:59 pm on Friday, November 30, 2018. Finalists will be announced on the CPC's website ( in February 2019. The finalists will be invited to attend an awards banquet where the winners will be announced (details will follow). Winners who are unable to attend will be notified by email.

Guidelines: Please keep these instructions and resources in mind when preparing your entry.

  • The National Agenda 2018 Audio Essay Contest is open to students currently enrolled in University of Delaware degree or certificate programs.
  • Record a 2- to 4-minute essay. A 500- to 600-word essay is about three minutes long when reading aloud at a natural pace.
  • Submit the online entry form with your uploaded recording (MP3 file format), a written transcript of your essay (.doc or PDF), and signed Participant Release and License. Please see "Submit Your Essay" for instructions and links.
  • Please visit for information about types of software to use for audio editing. Audacity is recommended for beginners.
  • You must be the sole author of your essay.

  • No music, singing, poetry, or added sound effects are allowed.

  • Essays must be from one voice and reflect your personal experience; we want to hear your personal story.

  • The essay must not include content that is defamatory to a third party, obscene, or inappropriate.

  • The essay's content must not invade another's privacy.

  • The essay's content must be accurate and truthful without misrepresentation of individuals, facts or events. Validation of content may be requested for entry to be eligible for judging.

  • If you require special assistance with your audio essay, please contact the Center for Political Communication at 302-831-7771 or via email at

  • The body of the essay must not include your address, phone number, or other contact information.

  • At any time during the contest, the University of Delaware may request more personal information about participants, including a photograph, student ID, or biographical information.

  • You can submit a maximum of three entries, but each entry must be a new and original concept. Previously submitted entries cannot be modified.

Production and Technical Support: For technical help with recording your audio essay, the Student Multimedia Design Center at the University of Delaware Library will provide a free workshop (dates and times to be announced). Register for the workshop online from the Library's homepage. For help with organizing, composing, or delivering your essay, you may schedule a consultation with the University Writing Center. For complete service descriptions and appointment registration information, please visit

Schedule a Recording Session: Please visit the Student Multimedia Design Center service desk in the Morris Library or call 302-831-8832 to schedule an audio recording session in studio 2, 3, 4, or 6.

Suggestions: Here are some guidelines to help your essay stand out from the rest.

  • Tell a personal story. A story about a specific life event that has shaped your identity is more meaningful than a generic anecdote. The story can be funny, tragic, heartwarming, sentimental, scary, suspenseful, or triumphant. What have you learned from your story and how has it shaped your outlook?
  • Speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial "we."
  • Consider how to frame your personal story as an inspirational essay. Do not use this essay to editorialize, preach, or persuade others with your opinions or beliefs.
  • Write your essay so that it fits your natural conversational style and tone. You may need to edit longer phrases and clauses. Practice reading your essay aloud until you feel comfortable and confident.
  • Consult with the University Writing Center's oral communication consultants for assistance with writing and delivering your essay.

Submit Your Essay: Beginning on August 28, 2018, you may submit your entry form with your uploaded audio essay (MP3 file format), a written transcript of your essay (".doc" or PDF format), and Participant Release and License on or before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 30, 2018. The entry form will only receive submissions from UD email accounts. Late submissions will not be eligible for the contest.

Judging: University of Delaware faculty and administrators will judge your essay based on objective and subjective criteria. Essays will be ranked in accordance with the cumulative total scores of points awarded by the contest judges. Judges will score each entry first before discussing and comparing them. Essays with the highest scores will be judged by an additional panel to determine award winners.

  • Content is worth 20 points. Demonstrate an understanding of the theme. Express your ideas in a clear and organized manner. Fully develop your theme and use transitions to move smoothly from one idea to another.
  • Originality and creativity are worth 15 points. Treatment of the theme should allow imagination and human interest. It should engage the listener on an emotional and subjective level.
  • Delivery is worth 10 points. Speak clearly, at a natural pace, and with credibility to engage the listener.
  • Production value is worth 5 points (audio quality and editing).

Questions: Please email if you have questions or call 302-831-7771.

Non-Discrimination Statement: The University of Delaware does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law in its employment, educational programs and activities, admissions policies, and scholarship and loan programs as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other applicable statutes and University policies. The University of Delaware also prohibits unlawful harassment including sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct: Contest organizers who are made aware that a student may have been the victim of discrimination or sexual misconduct are obligated by federal law to inform the University's Title IX office. The Title IX office will decide if the incident should be examined further. If you disclose such a situation in your submitted contest entry, the contest organizers cannot promise confidentiality.

If you have experienced discrimination or sexual misconduct and would like to discuss it with a trained individual in a confidential setting, please visit the website of the University's Office of Equity and Inclusion at You will find information about the University's non-discrimination and sexual misconduct policies, helpful resources, and instructions on how to report incidents.

To speak confidentially with a licensed counselor or a member of the clergy, please visit the Center for Counseling & Student Development at You can also find licensed counselors at Student Wellness & Health Promotion ( and within pastoral care. For more information on reporting sexual misconduct, including confidential disclosure, please visit For 24-hour crisis assistance and victim advocacy and counseling, please visit

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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