Allison Gnaegy, For The Miami Student

Miami University will open the Armstrong Student Center (ASC) Feb. 6, 2014, a building designed specifically for the student body. President David Hodge is asking students to leave their mark on the ASC through a unique writing contest featuring a cash prize of $2,000 for the winning submission.

According to Hodge, the center of the building will house the Bicentennial Rotunda, measuring twelve feet across and set three feet beneath the floor in glass casing, housing a replica of Miami’s Great Seal.

The Great Seal includes three elements: an open book to symbolize the accumulated wisdom across centuries, the globe to represent the present moment shared by all peoples and the telescope to point to the future yet to be discovered. The purpose of the writing contest is to fill the open pages of the book with a writing piece by a student on the values, beliefs and experiences that connect “Old Miami” and “New Miami.”

Howe Writing Center director, Kate Ronald, has been instrumental in the development of the writing contest, and provided advice on where students should draw inspiration for their entries.

“If you start with the new student center, it is literally the ‘new’ coming out of the ‘old,'” Ronald said.

The contest is partnering with the university library system. Resources on Miami’s history including photographs, essays and more are available to students to pull inspiration from for their submissions.

“The thing I’m looking for is timelessness,” Hodge said. “What we’re looking for is things that are true from generation to generation.”

The contest is open to all Miami undergraduate students across the Oxford, Hamilton and Middletown campuses. According to Hodge, there will be a finalist from each of the graduating classes. A committee of Miami faculty, staff and students will select finalists, and winners will be selected by an online vote by the student body the week of April 26, 2013.

“Having students vote on the winner of the contest is an interesting approach,” junior Abby Pautz said. “It seems like a good way to get the rest of the student body involved.”

The winning submission will be printed on the open pages of the book in the rotunda, and the other three class winners will receive $1,000 in cash. Other submissions will be printed on the remaining pages of the book. The contest is available to undergraduate students of all majors and departments, and is not exclusive to students with experience in writing or writing-related coursework.

“I am not interested in the contest,” first-year Matt Breitenbach said. “But I think it’s a really cool opportunity for anyone who is interested in writing.”

The submission deadline is April 2, 2013, and pieces must be 1809 words or less. For additional information on workshops and how to submit, students can visit the Howe Writing Center website.