Monday, May 09, 2016
2016 Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest Winners
The City Club of Cleveland is pleased to annouce the winners of the 2016 Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Competition!
For a live reading of these winning essays, listen here or watch below:
Winners - 11th & 12th Grade
- 1st Place: Isabella Nilsson, 12th grade, Hathaway Brown
Teacher: Scott Parsons
- 2nd Place: Savannah Williams, 12th grade, Brecksville-Broadview Heights
Teacher: Sean Brennan
- 3rd Place: Tommy Fox, 12th Grade, St. Edward High School
Teacher: Mr. Allen
- Honorable Mentions: Madeline Bals, 12th grade, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Teacher: Crystal Kershaw
Tyler Lawson, 11th grade, Cleveland Heights-University Heights High School, Teacher: Karen Bauer-Blazer
Winners - 9th & 10th Grade
- 1st Place: Isaiah Paik, 10th grade, University School
Teacher: Peter Paik
- 2nd Place: Natalie Sipula, 9th grade, Andrews Osborne
Teacher: Glenn Philak
- 3rd Place: Geoffrey Gao, 10th grade, Solon High School
Teacher: Sean Fisher
- Honorable Mention: Mario Lucrezi, 9th grade, Andrews Osborne
Teacher: Glenn Pihlak
Included below are the winning essays from both categories on the prompt:
Increasingly, higher education institutions require professors to post trigger warnings* on potentially upsetting material. Opponents have argued that trigger warnings inhibit intellectual and personal freedoms. Proponents have argued that failing to use trigger warnings will revictimize students who have experienced trauma and alienate them from the learning process. Discuss the role trigger warnings play in higher education with respect to our nation’s commitment to free speech.
Isabella Nilsson - 1st Place Winner, 11th & 12th Grade, Hathaway Brown
Watch For the Trigger Finger: Trigger Warnings and Their Place in Free Speech
I have been following the recent public discussion about the issue of trigger warnings and their impact on free speech with interest, and I feel that I am in some ways as qualified to weigh in as anyone. As a bisexual Latina female, I have been shocked and offended by callous statements classmates have made and texts I have read in class before—-it was hard to read Jane Eyre, for example, and not view Jane and Mr. Rochester’s treatment of his Jamaican wife, Bertha, as cruel and offensive after finishing the companion novel and critique The Wide Sargasso Sea. I’m a millennial, born in an internet generation where any group, no matter how obscure and marginalized, can be found with a few swift keystrokes and a surefooted search engine. And I am poised to begin college next year at Columbia University as an English major, where much of the national debate about trigger warnings and their place in the literary canon has taken place.
Although I do not have the academic background or years of experience of some of the professors and experts that have inveighed upon and debated this issue, I feel in many ways that this is uniquely beneficial, since the entire system of trigger warnings (I should clarify: I do not mean the trigger warnings veterans with PTSD and survivors of sexual assault request before viewing graphic material, but rather Oberlin College’s recently predominant definition of “anything that might cause trauma”) and what they represent rests upon the foundation that every voice—-no matter how young, inexperienced, or traditionally ignored—-deserves to be listened to. This seems only just. What gives me pause are other logical leaps the “trigger warning movement” (if such a disparate collection of activists and ideas can rightfully be called such) both does and does not make—-the assumption made, for example, that the demands of a single offended and frustrated voice are as important as that of an entire institutional body—-or even as important as the ideal of open intellectual discussion itself—-and that these demands must be adhered to and complied with under the looming threat of being labeled a bigot, which seems more and more often to be used as a tool for rhetorical compliance rather than “a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group,” as it is defined.