Speech competition preview

The Ministry of Social Justice’s “ONE VOICE: Speech Competition” will be held on Thursday, February 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. in CCIT room 1140.  During the competition, five UTM undergraduate students will each present a prepared speech on topics of their choice. The topics must be social justice issues and only UTM undergraduates were invited to participate. The top three winners will receive “awesome” prizes, according to Kumari Giles, VP Equity.

Since the first week of January, posters proclaiming the slogan “To Make a Change” have been up around UTM to advertise registration in the competition. To register for the competition, contestants either dropped off a hard copy registration form to the VP Equity mailbox in the Green Room of the Student Centre, or sent an emailed copy to Giles.

The deadline to hand in the registration form, which was January 19, had been extended from a previous deadline to allow more UTM undergraduates the opportunity to participate. Some students wanted more time to come up with a social justice topic. However, students reported that they felt they did not have the time to prepare a speech, especially with midterms approaching.

On January 24, all registrants went to a meeting held specifically to inform them about contestant eligibility, rules and regulations, and how the evening of February 10 is expected to pan out.  At the meeting, all registrants signed an agreement to abide by the rules.

Since then, Giles has sent each registrant soft copies of the final rules and judging rubric via email. A final meeting will be held on Monday, February 7 in UTMSU, during which all registrants will learn all they need to know for Thursday’s showdown, as well as receive some “tips and tricks” on how best to present an effective speech. Tips include “Practise, practise, practise”, “maintain eye contact”, and “body language is important”.

All contestants are expected to arrive in CC1140 half an hour earlier than the competition is set to begin. During that half hour, contestants will draw their speaking order from a hat. This is done to ensure as much fairness as possible.

The panel of judges will be comprised of two student representatives, two UTM faculty members, and one external judge from outside the UTM community. In the competition rules, it states that participants and judges will not be allowed to socialize until after the winners have been decided and announced, which will happen after all five speakers present their speeches in the drawn speaking order. All judges’ names are to remain anonymous until the day of the  competition.

When the organizers realized they had a small group of contestants, they envisioned a mini-impromptu speech competition after the speeches had been presented and while the judges were outside the room deliberating on the winner. Though it would not have any effect on the judging or the outcome of the competition, the organizers thought it would be fun considering the small group of contestants.

Giles plans to post the top three winners’ speeches or all five contestants’ speeches on the UTMSU website after the competition is over. She also hopes that an MSJ Speech Competition based on social justice issues will continue annually for many years.

This is the first competition of its kind in UTM history. For more information, contact Giles at vpequity@utmsu.ca.

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