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Voices of the Divide Audio Essay Contest

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Tell your story: Submit your entry by December 1
Voices of the Divide Audio Essay Contest Logo

The University of Delaware invites UD students to join the campus-wide conversation about this year's National Agenda theme: "As We Stand, Divided." The CPC is hosting an audio essay project that examines the individual impact of a nation divided. The project will run in tandem with the Center for Political Communication’s Fall 2017 National Agenda Speaker Series, which explores the divides that exist in the United States, including gender, geographic, religious, partisan, and cultural. The Voices of the Divide program is presented in collaboration with the University Writing Center, the University of Delaware Library, Delaware Public Media (WDDE 91.1 and WMPH 91.7), the College of Arts & Sciences Journalism Program, WVUD Radio (91.3), and the University of Delaware Vice Provost for Diversity.

The Voices of the Divide Audio Essay Contest aims to give those who feel marginalized a chance to tell their stories. Reflect on a personal experience of living in a polarized society. How has the experience shaped your life and the lives of those around you including your family and community? How have you and your community managed the challenges?

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 air the winning essays.

Important Dates: The audio essay contest opens on Monday, August 28, 2017. Entries must be electronically submitted by 11:59 pm on Friday, December 1, 2017. Finalists will be announced on the CPC’s website ( on Monday, February 5, 2018. The finalists will be invited to attend a spring 2018 event (details to follow), where the winners will be announced.

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

  • The National Agenda 2017 Audio Essay Contest is open to currently enrolled University of Delaware undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Record a 2- to 4-minute essay. A 500- to 600-word essay is about three minutes long when read aloud at your natural pace.

  • Submit the online entry form with your uploaded recording (MP3 file format), transcript, 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 also be from one voice; we want to hear your personal story.

  • 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, additional participant personal information could be requested by the University of Delaware, 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 on Thursday, October 5, 7-8 pm. Register for the workshop online from the Library 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. Stories with specific life events that have shaped your identity are more meaningful than generic anecdotes. The stories can be funny, tragic, heartwarming, sentimental, scary, suspenseful, or triumphant. What have you learned from these stories and how have they shaped your outlook on life in a polarized society?

  • 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 Oral Communication Consultants for assistance with writing and delivering your essay.

Submit Your Essay: Submit this entry form with your uploaded audio essay (MP3 file format), transcript (".doc" or PDF format), and Participant Release and License on or before 11:59 pm on Friday, December 1, 2017. 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. Judges will score each entry first before discussing and comparing them.

  • Originality and creativity are worth 30 points. Treatment of the theme should allow imagination and human interest. It should engage the listener on an emotional and subjective level.

  • Content is worth 35 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.

  • Delivery is worth 25 points. Speak clearly, at a natural pace, and with credibility to engage the listener.

  • Production value is worth 10 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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  • University of Delaware
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  • Phone: 302-831-7771
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