(Posted February 14, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Eli Finberg, a senior from Margaretville, N.Y., received the first-place award in the annual Juniata College Bailey Oratorical by arguing that traditions only limit people when allow traditions in infringe upon freedom of thought, of spirit and physical freedom.

Finberg, who received $1,000 for his award, and six other contestants were asked to address the topic "Do Traditions Limit or Liberate Us?" before a panel of judges and an enthusiastic crowd, Thursday, Feb. 10 in the ballroom of Ellis College Center on the Juniata campus.

Alexis Donkin, a senior from Santa Barbara, Calif., received the second-place prize, receiving $500. Angela Condor, a senior from Loretto, Pa., received the third-place prize, receiving $300.

In his winning speech, Finberg said, "When there are limitations, when everyone who has read a textbook, heard a presidential speech or watched TV has been told he or she is free, and yet also has been told to peacefully assemble to voice our objections to war a mile from the White House, when we as citizens are stripped of rights inalienable to any human being, when someone will prevent my sister from doing what they will with their bodies and marrying whom they please, freedom is but a dancing shadow on a cave's far wall."

He went on to say, "It is of unparalleled import that you leave here fully understanding that traditions hold no power save that invested in the tradition by individuals."

Finberg concluded his speech by saying, "Meanings are in people, not in words. Neither words nor traditions limit us, and liberation happens only when we realize we're free."

Judges for the event were:

Tracey DeBlase Huston is a 1985 Juniata graduate and executive director of outreach marketing and communications at Penn State University. Before becoming executive director, she served as director of communications for Penn State Outreach. From 1985 to 1995 she worked at Juniata College as assistant director of public relations and director of sports information. She earned a master's degree in education from Penn State.

Neill Johnson is research associate and manager of professional enrichment at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State. He also teaches undergraduate literature courses and composition courses in the Department of English.

William White is assistant professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State Altoona. He has taught public speaking at the Altoona campus since 2002 and also teaches mass media-related courses for the university's communication program. He earned a doctorate in communication from Rutgers University in 2001.

The other finalists in the competition were juniors Zineb Gormat, an international student from Morocco; and James Nelson, of Lanse, Pa.; seniors Paul Blore, of Lancaster, Pa.; and Alcione Frederick, of Huntingdon, Pa.

The original Bailey Oratorical Award was established in 1915 by the Honorable Thomas F. Bailey, who served as president judge of Huntingdon County from 1916 to 1936. The oratorical contest has a long tradition at Juniata College, as students from all areas of study can compete for the monetary prize. In addition, the name of the winner will be permanently inscribed on an antique loving cup.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.