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What Should Change? Addressing the 2013-14 Big Question

by Andrew Peters ’15

BC students took center stage, speaking out about what should change, at the 2nd annual Big Question Speaking Competition on Dec. 5 in Cole Hall.

“[This competition] gives you [as students] and us [as faculty] the opportunity to share what is important to us.” said host, Jennifer Babcock, instructor of Communication Studies.

The four finalists were Sean Bright ’17, Emily Strom ’17, Shannon Skellchock ’17 and Shannon Thorne ’17. Topics included student loan debt, rape, and promotion of non-profits such as Camp Sunshine and Project W.A.R.M.

Bright tackled the tough subject of student loans and debt thereby incurred. “Honest hardworking families are being used by the system,” said Bright. With numbers such that the average undergraduate will experience debt of more than $25,000 with about 10% of those students going into default, Bright suggested that that the government needs to stop setting the rules and making the loans. He proposed a Fair Break Debt Forgiveness, which would discharge the debt should the loans not be repaid within seven years.

Strom addressed the issue of rising heating costs hitting the less fortunate hard during the winter months. “Many of the less fortunate don’t have resources to access wood,” said Strom. Referring to a local solution in Project W.A.R.M., Strom emphasized how this non-profit has been working to get wood to those in need. She encouraged students to volunteer at such organizations because “no one should have to choose between eating and heating.”

Skellchock wants to change “society’s thought process about rape.” Society tells us “don’t get raped, rather than don’t rape,” Strom emphasized. With numbers that suggest that 230,000 victims are sexually assaulted every year, the “victims need to be treated like victims, rather than participants.”

Thorne advocated for Camp Sunshine, a non-profit designed to help families with individuals suffering from life threatening illnesses. Founded in 1984, Thorne stressed that this camp was free of cost and allows the families the freedom to set aside their worries for a few days. “The pure joy that comes across a camper’s face is the most beautiful thing to witness,” said Thorne.

Following these four speeches, Jamie Frueh, associate professor of history and political science, emphasized that “democracy works because people have to ponder and think about these important topics” and about what should change.

After the judges and audience had voted on their favorites, Bright was declared the winner with his speech on student loan debt and awarded the $150 prize.

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