Oratorical contest


Students share peace perspectives

Bluffton University will hold its annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest at 7 p.m. on April 5 in Yoder Recital Hall. 

Students selected to participate will prepare an oration, no more than ten minutes in length, that applies a peace-church perspective to an issue of contemporary concern. 

Participating students and their speeches include:

  • Brianna Keeler ’23 of Bluffton Ohio, “Sexual Assault on Small College Campuses.”
  • Aspyn Rafac ’25 of Lakeview, Ohio, “Mennonite on Indigenous Soil: Making Peace After Colonialism”
  • Morgan Smith ’23 of Arlington, Ohio, “Peace Within: Addressing PTSD in Policing.”
  • Payton Stephens ’23 of Lebanon, Ohio, “Finding Peace in Religious Conversations: The Free Exercise  Clause and Public Schools.”
  • Olivia (Lou) Westcott ’23 of Toledo, Ohio, “Interpersonal Relationships—It’s Complicated: Status and  Hierarchy Within our Everyday Lives.”

The student who is awarded first prize will receive $300. The second and third prize speakers will receive $200 and $100, respectively.

The first prize winner will advance to compete with winning students from other North American Mennonite colleges. The bi-national competition awards additional monetary prizes for the top three competitors. In 2021, Bluffton’s first-place winner Olivia Tennefoss won third place in the bi-national competition and earned an award of $200 cash plus a $200 scholarship to attend a peace-related conference. 

The contest is named in honor of C. Henry Smith, an early 20th-century Mennonite historian and a professor at Bluffton as well as at Goshen College. Bluffton’s event is free and open to the public.