A University tradition of public debate from the 1960s and 70s has been revived for the third year in a row with support from the Speech Center and the School of Arts & Sciences.
In the 1960s and 70"s, Richmond students and faculty engaged actively in public debate. Regularly scheduled forum events encouraged members of the campus community to put forth compelling arguments pertaining to issues of current concern or proposed public policy for the purpose of convincing the audience members who gathered in the Greek Amphitheater. The forums were open to anyone who wished to speak; topics were posted in advance in The Collegian.

In 2007, the concept was revived by senior Ashley Loftin who proposed that it be held in the new Forum in front of Gottwald Science Center. Sponsored by the Speech Center with generous support from the dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, the "Forum at the Forum" has drawn faculty and students to the now-annual springtime event. Liz Kania, "09, Anna Weichel, "09, and Kate Foss, "09, speech consultants at the University"s Speech Center are the Forum Coordinators this year. Kania has been involved in planning the Forum since 2007, and said she was very excited to be involved again.

"I hope to see the Forum get bigger and better every year,"Kania said. Weichel and Foss have been working to put together this year"s Forum since the spring of 2008, when they joined the planning committee. Kania, Weichel and Foss worked with the director of the Speech Center, Linda Hobgood, to come up with three topics for students to vote on. The winning topic for the spring is "All Work and No Play: Is Life at Richmond What it Could and Should Be?"

"I feel that this year's topic is more representative of the voice of the student body," Weichel said, "not just a select group- everyone has an opinion on the topic."

Last year"s Forum at the Forum topic concerned censorship and featured faculty spokespersons, but the committee members each said they hoped that this year"s topic would encourage more student involvement.

"We hope that this year's topic will draw an even bigger crowd," Kania said, "Since life at Richmond is something that everybody on campus can relate to and engages in every day."

"I am so pleased with this year"s topic," Foss said, "and I can"t wait to see what everyone on campus has to say about it."

To become a speech consultant, students apply and if selected, they go through a semester-long training course, "Theory and Pedagogy," taught by Hobgood. When Weichel and Foss were in the class last spring, Hobgood encouraged them to join the Forum Committee, as two members, Mallory Huggins, '08 and Caroline DeHaan, '08 were set to graduate at the end of the semester. Both Foss and Weichel were honored to join Kania on the committee.

"I'm excited to be involved in Forum at the Forum," Weichel said, "because I feel we're better enabling students and faculty to be heard in a public, open, nondiscriminatory setting- it's fun to be a part of something that could potentially affect change for the university."