The fifth annual Rhetorical Arts Festival (Rhet Fest) will be held on Tuesday, May 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. in St. Robert's Auditorium. The festival is a competitive speaking event that aims to celebrate student work.
The competitors are freshmen from the University core curriculum mandated rhetorical arts courses. Each student in the Speaking and Writing for Social Justice rhetorical arts classes picks a social justice oriented topic to work on for the semester. They finish the class with a persuasive speech on the topic.
This persuasive speech is what the festival competitors will be showcasing. Each rhetorical arts class from 50 fall and spring sections voted on a winner from their class. Those winners then went onto the preliminary rounds, where only nine of the best student speeches were chosen to compete at the festival, according to Teah Goldberg, rhetorical arts professor.
The Rhetorical Arts Festival now includes a student writing competition, a promotional materials design competition and auditions for a student to be the master of ceremonies. The judges of the competition are the past winners.
"Every year we do this event, it gets more and more student-based," said Laura Poladian, a rhetorical arts professor. "We want to help create a system that students are building and rewarding each other. It's really about handing it off to students and celebrating the great work that they do."
This year's topics range from discussing the legalization of prostitution, menstruation and issues of hazing. The theme is "Battle of the Canons," which refers to the five canons of rhetoric—invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery—as explained by the Roman philosopher and orator Cicero.
"I'm both [excited and nervous]," said Nya Jacobs, a screenwriting major who is competing. "I've been preparing by going over my speech, changing some notes and points, listening to good music and then hoping for the best."
The festival has grown since its inception in 2015, and the rhetorical arts professors hope to continue to expand it so as to showcase student work to a larger audience.
"We are thrilled that Rhet Fest is becoming something of an institution on campus. Almost a rite of passage for first year students," said rhetorical arts professor Teah Goldberg. "We hope to continue to grow the festival and increase awareness and support on campus."