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Hendrix Freshmen Win National Debating for Democracy Competition

CONWAY, Ark. (March 14, 2014) – Hendrix freshmen Steven Hulsey and Chirag Lala, both of Little Rock, Ark., were honored by the national office of Project Pericles as one of this year’s winning submissions to the Debating for Democracy competition.

“There was stiff competition from this campus as well as the 28 other campuses,” said Dr. Lisa Leitz, assistant sociology professor and director of Project Pericles at Hendrix. “We sent three great letters from student teams, and I’m proud of this year’s students for continuing Hendrix’s strong showing in this competition. No Pericles institution has had more finalists in the Debating for Democracy Letter to an Elected Official competition than Hendrix, and only three other schools have had four years of finalists.”

This year’s other winning teams included students from Macalester College, New England College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College and Wagner College.  

In their letter, Hulsey and Lala urge Arkansas State Sen. Joyce Elliott to advocate for the establishment of a public state bank to sustainably finance small businesses, local banks, and critical development projects.

The idea is modeled on the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the only public state bank in existence today. Such a model would offer a low-interest lending solution for a variety of unmet state infrastructure needs cited by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), including Arkansas public schools, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvement, replacement of 2,929 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges, and $22 million unmet need for park systems.

Project Pericles will provide a $500 award to fund advocacy and education activities, including lobbying trips and workshops.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit