Castle Arnold, For The Miami Student

A new kind of event has hit campus for first-year students: a literary competition co-hosted by Alpha Delta Phi (ADPhi) fraternity and the Howe Center for Writing Excellence (HCWE).

The topic for the competition consists of writing a letter to Susan Mosley-Howard, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and there will be a cash prize for the top three entries.

“This contest is particularly interesting because they are writing in a way that can make a change about what happens at the university and they can write about ways the first year experience can be improved,” Paul Anderson, director of the HCWE, said. “This is a chance for students to write and it shows they can use writing powerfully that can make a difference for them and future students.”

According to Matthew Labuda, president of ADPhi, this is the first year ADPhi has done a contest as big as this, and they are hoping it will be a success. They hope it will be even larger in the years to come. 

“We decided to do it because we were founded in 1832 as a literary fraternity,” Labuda said. “When we were founded, it was on a literary emphasis. Obviously in 200 years since we were founded, we’ve deviated from it (a literary emphasis) but this is kind of a way to rekindle our principles.”

After letters are judged, they will be given to Mosley-Howard, so she may see if the ideas can be utilized at the university.

“By submitting these to the dean of students, we’re hoping they can see from a first-year perspective what the issues are and what do they want more or less of,” Labuda said.

Anderson hopes this contest will emphasize to students the importance of writing.

First-year Jacob Westfall was persuaded by his English teacher to enter the competition.  His class had written a longer paper on a similar topic.

“I was happy about the award of money, and I had it already written and was proud of it so I figured I’ll send it in,” Westfall said.  “Even if I didn’t have it prewritten I would have done it.”

In his paper, Westfall discussed the importance of students being able to know exactly where their money is going for tuition. He thinks the eBills should be more descriptive, and show what amount of money is going where.

“I wish I could have submitted my whole paper which was six pages, but I had to shorten it down,” Westfall said.

The deadline for first-year students to make their submissions is March 31. Essays should be between 500 and 750 words. Labuda said members of the fraternity will judge the essays along with their faculty adviser. They are looking at creativity and writing skills and want to see original ideas for how the first-year are approaching the topic.