Annika Alderfer Fisher, a senior sociology and art double major, won the 2024 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest on Tuesday. Her speech was titled “The Inequity of Overconsumption.”

The contest, held annually, features five Goshen College students, each of whom has the opportunity to give a 10-minute speech on any topic as it relates to peace.

Mariela Esparza, a senior English major, finished second with her speech, “Overseen yet Overlooked: Children as an Oppressed Class.” Speaking last, Esparza focused on the imbalance of power between adults and children that causes many issues with our children, the next generation. She closed with a call to action: Next time you see a child, ask them a genuine question and “truly listen” to their response.

It was the 50th year of the contest’s sponsorship by the trust of the late C. Henry Smith, a Mennonite historian and GC professor. In honor of the anniversary, the trust issued a one-time prize increase: first place won $1,000, second $400, and third $200.

Sarah Lopez Ramirez, Cassidy Cwiertnia and Tyson Miller also spoke in the contest — and, in a rare turn of events, the three tied for third place, splitting the money.

“The judges … said they were able to come to a first place and a runner-up,” said Anna Groff, assistant professor of communication and the contest director. “But the last three, essentially, were too close for them to call.”

The panel of judges consisted of Regina Shands Stoltzfus, professor of peace, justice and conflict studies; Luke Kreider, assistant professor of religion and sustainability; and Malinda Berry, history, theology and ethics department chair at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. The judges use a basic rubric, but the scores aren’t the end of the story — they deliberate after the contest and agree on winners.

This year, they took 40 minutes.

When they asked to name all three speakers as tied for third, Groff said that she approved it in the interest of time, and because the judges wanted it. “In the sense that there was a one-time increase in prize money,” she said, “I guess there was a one-time tie.”

Lopez Ramirez, a senior film production major, gave her speech, “ITIN: A Mockery on Immigrant Lives.” She discussed the struggles that immigrants face without a Social Security Number; instead, the government gives out Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, making those with it pay taxes without any of the benefits of having an SSN. 

Cwiertnia, a senior ASL interpretation major, presented “ASL: Beyond the Barriers.” She gave listeners ideas on how to “foster peace right here in your own community.” Cwiertnia used her own experience studying ASL to give examples of easy phrases to learn, in order to build relationships with deaf people. 

Miller, a junior journalism and English double major, delivered his speech, “Using Journalism as a Tool for Peace.” In it, he described the idea of “peace journalism,” how it can be used to cover war in a more restorative way, and how he’s using those ideas in his own work with The Record.

Editor’s note: Tyson Miller is the news editor for The Record, and Annika Alderfer Fisher is a copy editor.