Essay Contest

 Institute Sponsors Contest for First- and Second-Year Oles (2017-18)

St. Olaf’s Institute for Freedom and Community is pleased to announce its essay contest for the 2017-2018 Academic Year. After last year sending our contest winners to Chicago to take in HAMILTON, this year the Institute will select five winners for an all-expense-paid, multi-day visit to the nation’s capital, where students will tour the city’s museums and monuments, walk the halls of Congress, and take part in a specially-arranged visit to the U.S. Supreme Court. Tentative travel dates have been scheduled to coincide with Spring Break, March 26 to 28. The essay contest is only open to current First-Years and Second-Years.

To be considered for our prize, please submit an essay of between 750 and 1,000 words on the following question: Does the First Amendment protection of free speech also include protection of academic freedom? Why or why not? Our essay question relates closely to our fall programming theme, Academic Freedom: Its Meaning and Limits. More information on the series, including readings and video from our fall events, can be accessed online at:

Please address your essays to the Institute’s Subcommittee for Contest Writing and email them to by January 8. Winners will be notified by January 15.

For more information on the essay contest, as well as The Institute for Freedom and Community, please visit Questions may be directed to Edmund Santurri, Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, at

NOTE: The Institute for Freedom and Community supports and adheres to the principles of St. Olaf’s Honor Code. Though our essay contest is not an academic assignment or test, if material is found to be plagiarized or sourced from existing content, the submission will automatically be disqualified.


Hamilton Essay Contest (2016-17)

Thanks to all who entered the Hamilton Essay Contest sponsored by The Institute for Freedom & Community.

The contest provided first-year students at St. Olaf with the opportunity to win tickets to see the acclaimed play Hamilton in Chicago on December 3. To enter, students were asked to write an essay that answered one of these two questions:

(1) If the two candidates running for President this November were Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, whom would you vote for and why?  OR

(2) Who should be in your wallet? How should the recent controversy over faces on the fronts of the $10 and $20 bills have been resolved and why?

Congratulations to the following first-year students whose essays have been selected and who will travel to Chicago for an all-expenses-paid trip that includes airfare, hotel, and tickets to Hamilton:

George Arbanas
Alyson Brinker
Samuel Carlen
Matthew Dufresne
Madison Duran
Kailey Favaro
Callahan Gergen
John Goodson
Eleanore Harpstead
Erik Lepisto
Meredith Moore
Molly Nakahara
Devon Nielsen
Kathleen Quigley
William Randolph

This essay contest previews a larger discussion that will take place at the October 20, 2016 event — “Who’s in Your Wallet?” Hamilton, Jackson, Tubman, and the Presidential Election — sponsored by The Institute for Freedom & Community. That panel discussion is free and open to the public, and all are invited to attend.