Oratory Competition

Is free speech important at a public university in our democracy — and why?

At the first Oratory Competition in 2021, contestants eagerly await the announcement of the winner, Kate Sharman, fourth year student in the College, majoring in Foreign Affairs and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Click here for highlights from the 2021 contest.


2022 Politics Department Oratory Competition

The second annual Politics Department Oratory Competition will be held on Thursday, November 3 at 5pm in the Rotunda Dome Room.

Participants will be judged on speechwriting ability and the quality of the delivery of a short speech on the topic, “Is free speech important at a public university in our democracy — and why?” 

Attendance is open to the public; please RSVP here if you would like to attend.

The competition begins with video submissions of six-minute speeches. Up to ten finalists will then present their speeches at the Dome Room event. The winner will receive a $500 prize, and all finalists will receive engraved Jefferson Cups.

How To Enter

Prepare a written speech on this year's topic of no more than 1,000 words and record yourself presenting the speech.  Then, upload the speech and your performance through the online entry form.

Entries must be received by: October 24 at 11:59pm.

Oratory Competition Committee

The Oratory Competition is organized by a committee of UVa undergraduate students:

Aly Buckner
Mark Graff
Jeremy Odrich

Faculty advisor: Mary Kate Cary


The oratory competition is sponsored by the Department of Politics Honors Program, the Karsh Institute of Democracy, Think Again @ UVA, the Jefferson Literary & Debating Society, the University Democrats, and the College Republicans.