Frequently Asked Questions

  • Essay Prompts

  • Download the complete package as a PDF (coming soon)

Am I eligible to participate in the essay contest given that I am:

  • An emeritus or retired staff?
    Yes. If you retired as a staff or faculty, enter the contest in the staff or faculty category respectively.

  • A Postdoctoral Fellow?
    Yes. Enter the contest in the staff category.

  • A Part or Adjunct?
    Yes. Enter the contest in the category where you work part time or adjunct.

  • A part time staff who is also a student or vice versa?
    Yes, but enter the contest in the category you first came to CWRU.

  • An Exchange Student? Yes. Whether you are a CWRU student studying abroad, exchanging at another U. S. college or a foreign student on exchange here at CWRU, you are eligible to participate.

  • Alumnus? No. At this time, we have not extended the contest to past students. However, if you graduated in December 2012 (commencement in January 2013), you are eligible to enter the context in the appropriate student category.

May I co-author an entry with a colleague(s)?

  • Yes, you may co-author a single entry with colleagues, provided that you and your co-authors all belong in the same faculty, staff, graduate or undergraduate category. For example, a faculty member may not co-author the same submission with a student.

  • If you are co-authoring a single entry, make sure all the names of the authors are included in the cover page and that each co-author contributed in preparing the submission.

  • Co-authors who win the contest will be awarded one prize.

May an organization submit an entry?

  • Yes, officers of any recognized organization on campus may submit an entry on behalf of the organization.

  • At least 3 officers of the organization must sign or authenticate the essay contest submission sheet


Do you require a particular citation format?

No. There is no requirement that entrants consult external resources for this essay; however, if you incorporate unoriginal ideas, you should provide correct source information. Use whatever style (MLA, Chicago, Bluebook, APSA, APA, etc) that is used by your college/ department.


In writing my essay, what kind of help may I get and from whom?


  • As a general rule, entrants should not seek help from third parties in completing their essay as this may unfairly disadvantage other entrants.

  • However, we recognize that writing skills and language exposure differ within categories. Therefore, limited Writing Center consultation is allowed. Please be sure to observe the usual Writing Center policies which permit students to seek the guidance of tutors with respect to issues such as organization and grammar but not questions on substance and content.


Who are some of the past winners of the MLK Essay Contest?

  • Robert Lawry, Professor of Law & Director of the Center for Professional Ethics, Faculty First Prize 2001

  • Judith Olson Fallon, Director of Educational Services for Students, Staff First Prize, 1998.

  • Dean Pattern Jr., Associate Vice President, Division of Student Affairs, Faculty/Staff Prize 2003.

  • Eric Hammond, 2005 Student Prize (Eric is currently a Legislative Staff at the U. S House of Representative in Washington, DC)

  • Janice Lindsay Reed, 2008 Student First Prize (Lindsay is on the graduating class of 2012 at Washington University St. Louis School of Medicine)

  • Divya Aggarwal, 2012 Student First Prize (Divya is on a Dietetic Internship at Cornell University after serving as President of the USG)

  • Donte Gibbs, 2012 Graduate, Second Place co-winner.

Who will judge the MLK Essay Contest?

By policy, the identity of the judges will be released after the results have been announced. Although there is no one type of person who is best suited to be a judge, the organizing committee looks for someone who can:

  1. Appreciate and have in mind the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. when reading the essays;

  2. Judge the essays in accordance with the rubric presented and primarily for their compelling content, not just for grammar or spelling;

  3. Be impartial, objective, neutral, unbiased, and principled; and

  4. Complete the reading and ranking of the essays in a timely fashion.

A team of faculty, staff, and select graduate students will be selected to serve as judges. No person will be selected to judge in a category who is also a contestant, or parent, or immediate family member of a current contestant.

Who are the stakeholders behind the MLK Essay Contest?

President's Advisory Council on Minorities (PACM): is charged to advise the President and the Provost on diversity issues, assess current policies, develop strategic action plans, and suggest programs and policies to help realize racial inclusion, promote cultural sensitivity, and build a broadly diverse community university wide. The PACM will work to promote information sharing and encourage cooperation among the various university offices and programs engaged in diversity efforts on campus.
Dr. Marilyn Mobley and Sharon Jordan-Davis are Co-Chairs.


Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity (OIDEO): The mission of the OIDEO is to provide support and guidance and to promote equitable and fair treatment in employment, education and other aspects of campus life. The office serves as a resource to the university in the interpretation, understanding and application of federal and state equal opportunity and affirmative action laws and regulations. Ultimately, the office supports the university's mission by providing strategic leadership in the development of policies, procedures and programs that will help foster diversity, inclusiveness and a welcoming environment for faculty, staff, students and others.
Dr. Marilyn Sanders Mobley is Vice President for OIDEO and member of the President's cabinet.


Share the Vision: In 1990, CWRU adopted a new "vision" for the university in an effort to promote a just and humane campus for all. Community members were involved in discussion, and a list of goals was outlined for a "Share the Vision" initiative. Student organizations and university departments may request funding from the Share the Vision committee to support programs and activities that promote the spirit of the Share the Vision Affirmations. Share the Vision is one of the longest running sponsors of the MLK Essay Contest.
Mayo Bulloch, Ramez Islambouli, and Aditya Rengaswami are committee members.


Baker Nord Center for Humanities: Established in 1996 with a generous gift of endowment from Eric and Jane Nord, the Baker-Nord Center is dedicated to 1) highlighting and celebrating the arts and humanities at Case through public lectures, panels, performances, and special programs; 2) supporting research and creative work in the humanities and arts through fellowships, grants, and symposia, as well as encouraging new and innovative directions in research and creativity, including the digital humanities, through public forums and open discussion; and 3) facilitating cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary collaborations among Case Western Reserve University faculty and members of other University Circle institutions that address questions and problems of broad human interest, in and out of the academy. The Center is located in Clark Hall, which is the second-oldest building on campus and was the original home of Western Reserve University's Mather College for Women. It represents a significant historical link to Case Western Reserve University's humanities tradition, and has become the revitalized campus center of humanities classrooms and meeting spaces.
John Orlock, Interim Director.


Center for International Affairs: is the first space on campus designed to provide a "home" for international students and activities, as well as to be a central location where the University will engage the business, government, foundation and civic communities around global issues. The creation of the Office of International Affairs represents a major step in fulfilling the university's goal of advancing international programs as outlined in its strategic plan.
David Fleshler JD is the Associate Provost for International Affairs and Molly Watkins is the Director for International Affairs.


Cleveland Hillel Foundation (CHF): The Cleveland Hillel Foundation is the center of Jewish life for Jewish undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who attend twelve colleges and universities in greater Cleveland. Hillel provides the means for these students to celebrate their Judaism through enriching cultural, educational, religious, and social programs and to cultivate a pluralistic Jewish student community. Cleveland Hillel is a "home away from home", connects students to the community, and brings "value added" to campus life. Through JCLE Cleveland Hillel connects graduate and professional students to their peers living in Cleveland. Cleveland Hillel is also a year round program center serving Jewish students in Cleveland for the summer through summer internship and leadership program and summer events.
Gary Coleman, Ed. D, Executive Director.


Housing and Residence Life, FYE: mission is to cultivate meaningful interactions and purposeful environments that enrich the undergraduate experience. The first year at CWRU is all about transitions - transition to university academic life, transition to new friends and experiences, and transition to campus living. FYE is committed to helping all first-year students experience great "connections" at CWRU through the First Year Experience (FYE) program. This program is designed to assist freshmen in their transition from high school to college by encouraging a connection with the university through academics, campus activities, residence hall programs and other events that enrich the college experience. As living-learning communities, the halls in the residential FYE take the lead in shaping freshmen out-of-class experience. become a member of one of four residential colleges - Cedar Residential College, Juniper Residential College, Magnolia Residential College and Mistletoe Residential College. Through the residential colleges, each student is instantly identified as an individual and at the same time a member of a community of other first year students.
Dr. Janice Gerda, Director of Residence Life, Karl Rishe, Assistant Director of Residence Life, FYE.


Greek Life Office (PanHellenic Council and Inter-fraternity Congress): We, the members of the Greek community at Case Western Reserve University, believe that in order to foster the positive development of our member fraternities and of each individual member, we must uphold certain values. We recognize scholarship as a high priority and endeavor to achieve academic excellence. We will embody the quality of responsibility in all our thoughts and deeds; uphold the duty of accountability in our actions; have the discipline to pursue our goals within the bounds of our common fraternal values; and thus by doing so, live a life of honesty and integrity. We further strive to conduct all of our dealings in a manner of mutual respect and support; recognize the importance of the equitable treatment of others, both inside and outside of our individual organizations; and endeavor to empathize with each other in our daily lives. We believe that to enhance the Greek community, all individuals and organizations must aspire toward the attainment of the goals and values set herein. To effectuate these stated values, all individuals and organizations should strive for balance in all facets of life.
Mark Starr JD, Director.


Kelvin Smith Library (KSL): is the knowledge and creativity commons at CWRU. It aims to be the information laboratory for knowledge collection, connection, creation, and curation. KSL aims to: (1) build and maintain strong scholarly information resources; (2) foster faculty and student engagement and productivity in their intellectual pursuits; (3) provide high quality services for our faculty, students and staff; (4) work collaboratively with on-campus and external partners to maximize the availability of information, and (5) grow our vibrant commitment to inclusion and diversity in our programs, services, and staffing.
Arnold Hirshon, Associate Provist and University Librarian, Gail Reese, Associate Director for Public Engagement.


Undergraduate Student Government (USG): is the only duly-elected representative organization that works on behalf of the undergraduate student population. As such, it acts with the ability to work and communicate with the faculty, staff, university administration, and other affiliated groups. USG works to promote three goals: to actively promote and advocate undergraduate student interests, provide student organizational support, and to promote the experiences of handling leadership. Every year, USG works on issues ranging from campus improvements to university issues, as well as recognizing and funding over 100 student organizations. USG is comprised of the executive board, the standing committees (each led by a member of the executive board), the judicial board, and caucuses representing CWRU's four undergraduate schools plus a first-year caucus. Together these groups form the General Assembly of USG.
James Halle, President, Colin Williams, VP for Finance, and Laura Payne, Treasurer.