Students can win $500 with First Amendment essay

By Joshua Qualls [email protected] UK and the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center have teamed up this year to help students celebrate Constitution Day with an essay contest and a chance to win a $500 prize. Undergraduate students have been invited to enroll in a special course on Canvas that was created for them to submit their essays. Mike Farrell, an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Telecommunications and the director of the First Amendment Center, said as of Monday afternoon 127 students had enrolled in the course. The second-place essay will win $300 and the third-place essay will win $200. “The privileges we have as citizens are not enjoyed by people in other countries,” Farrell said in a press release. “This essay challenge will give students an opportunity to learn more about those liberties established in our Constitution and how important it is to protect them.” Farrell said the First Amendment Center worked with Kentucky’s secretary of state office on a similar essay contest in the past, but it was really Randolph Hollingsworth, the associate provost for undergraduate affairs, and Ben Withers, the associate provost for undergraduate education, who pulled it all together for UK’s Constitution Day activities this year. According to the essay rules and description on Canvas, it must be no longer than 750 words, and it should address whether or not the writer believes the Kentucky General Assembly should pass a law to prevent politicians from “using half-truths and lies in their advertising so that voters can be better informed on the important issues facing the state,” and whether or not they think a law like that would “survive a court test.” Farrell said the winning entry should be a well-written, well-researched and well-argued essay that adequately represents the writer’s perspective on the topic. “There are people who believe that negative advertising diminishes voter interests in elections,” Farrell said. “It gets pretty tiring to watch politicians sling mud but not debate the real issues — the important issues.” According to the press release, writers must submit their entry before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, to qualify. A range abilify reviews of former UK journalism students will blind-judge the essay and the winners will be announced at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, during the First Amendment Celebration in William T. Young Library’s Alumni Auditorium. Farrell said 2015 is the first year for the essay abilify contest. “I would hope this would be an annual event to draw attention to the First Amendment and the constitution,” said Farrell, who said every public school has had to observe Constitution Day with educational programming since the federal holiday was established in 2004. “Part of the mission of the First Amendment Center is to promote understanding of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and this is one way to do it.”