The First Inaugural Sturcken Oratorical

Sturcken Oratorical Banner Logo

On October 13, 2018, the College of Charleston hosted the Inaugural Sturcken Oratorical in Rita Liddy Hollings Room 101. Organized by Tanner Crunelle (’20), this event honored its namesake, Francis “Frank” Sturcken (’51) and his contributions to the College of Charleston by desegregation advocacy through oration. In the past, the College of Charleston hosted the Bingham Oratorical, an annual speech competition. This came to an end around 50 years ago when the College formally desegregated. The Sturcken Oratorical reframes the Bingham Oratorical to allow students of any background to identify issues and offer tangible solutions for improvement on issues related to marginalization.

Follow up on the History of the Sturcken Oratorical and how Tanner became moved to take action after learning about Frank Sturcken.


The Sturcken Oratorical prompts students to identify problems that they experience on campus or issues they feel strongly about, then offer a call to action. This occurs in two rounds: the first asks for students to submit a brief proposal outlining a problem on campus and a potential solution. The second round invites student orators to build on their initial proposals in five to nine minute presentations.

Tanner Crunelle introduces the event and speakers
Tanner Crunelle – organizer of the Sturcken Oratorial

Students orators were assessed on rhetorical presence, the argument’s ability to diagnose a problem, the solution, and how the proposal works as a whole.

Below is a list of the participating 2018 Student Orators and their topics:

  • Jordan Mercer – Physical accessibility in spaces for all
  • Taylor Boes – Resources to empower survivors of all communities and to end rape culture
  • Sylvie Baele – Accessing a better bicycling initiative with bike education
  • Jake Brown – Eradicating stigma surrounding mental illness and improving institutional support for mental illness
  • Sean Dalton – Incorporating intersectionality into our use of language and Understanding the impact behind our words and social sustainability for marginalized groups
  • Grace Headrick – Collective healing from sexual violence through personal narratives


A collaboration of many organizations on campus provided a cash prize of $500 to the winning orator to finance tangible solutions. The remaining competitors received $100 sponsored by the Avery Research Center to encourage speakers to further their ideas and solutions.


Congratulations to the following winners:

2nd Place: Sean Dalton


1st Place: Sylvie Baele

Read more about her win and the event on CofC Today.


Congratulations to all of the Sturcken Student Orators for their passion in sharing their experiences, deducing a broader issue, and planning action to tackle a specific goal in their community.

Jordan Mercer
Taylor Boes
Jake Brown
Grace Headrick

Patricia Williams Lessane, Associate Dean of the Libraries, Co-Principal Investigator for the Race and Social Justice Initiative, and Executive Director for the Avery Research Center for African American History, gave opening remarks.

Elizabeth (Ginger) Sturcken, daughter of Frank Sturcken, spoke at the end for a poignant celebration of her father’s oration.

Patricia Williams Lessane
Elizabeth (Ginger) Sturcken


This event was made possible through collaborations between The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Black Student Union, Catering Services, the Charleston Activist Network, the Division of Student Affairs, the Honors College, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Sustainability, the Phillip Simmons Foundation, Physical Plant, PRISM, the Race and Social Justice Initiative, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Special Collections, the Sustainability Literacy Institute, and the academic Departments of African American Studies, Communications, English, Women and Gender Studies, and Southern Studies.

Watch the entire Sturcken Oratorical here: