From the announcement emailed to the campus community: 

Last year, seven students won cash prizes of $500 to $3,000 in the John Jay-Rubin Museum Writing Competition. This year, we are giving away $7,000 in total prizes. Now YOU could win up to $3,000 for writing a winning essay!

John Jay College and the Rubin Museum of Art are happy to announce the 4th annual John Jay College-Rubin Museum of Art Writing Competition.

Want to know more? You are invited to attend on-campus informational sessions during Community Hour! Please RSVP to

  • February 23rd: Info session for students (room 620 Haaren Hall 1:45-2:35 pm)
  • March 2nd: Final info session for students (room 620 Haaren Hall 1:45-2:35 pm)

Competition rules

I. Who May Enter:

The contest is open to all undergraduate students who are in good standing, full-time or part-time, at John Jay on the final date for submission.

Exceptions: employees and affiliates of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation or the Rubin Museum and members of their immediate families shall be ineligible.

II. Topic of the Prize Essay

Choose a work or set of works of art from the collection of the Rubin Museum. Write an essay about the work (or those works) that explores how the piece or pieces define or express the idea of justice. As John Jay commences its 50th anniversary celebrations, it may be useful to reflect on our history as a college and a force for social change as you come up with the concept for your essay topic. Your essay may consider any of a wide range of issues, including but not limited to: justice as it relates to retribution and punishment; justice as it relates to death; justice as it relates to the possible differences between what gods and human beings consider fair; justice as it relates to violence and non-violence.

Psst... The Library has an online exhibit with helpful resources!

III. Submission & Due Date

In order to be considered an essay must be typewritten and submitted in hard copy. No e-mailed or faxed entries will be considered. The essay must be between 1000 and 3000 words long.

Each student entering an essay must submit five copies of the essay to the Office of Fellowship & Scholarship Opportunities by no later than 5:00pm on April 1st, 2015. The first copy of the essay must be accompanied by a detachable title page bearing the name of the student and the last four digits of his/her Social Security Number. The remaining pages of all copies of the submission must include the last four digits of the Social Security Number and no other identifying information. The Office of Fellowship & Scholarship Opportunities will accept submissions from February 9th through April 1st. Winning essays will be selected by April 13th, with celebration to follow at John Jay’s Research and Creativity Week (beginning on April 27th).

IV. Getting to Know the Rubin Museum of Art

Visiting the Museum is required. Last year’s winners found visits to the museum to be essential to their understanding of the collections and the piece they chose to write about for the essay. This makes sense as the museum is full of helpful staff and educators, and is in tune with our mission of “Educating for Justice.” Encourage your students to make the time to go if they hope to win.

The Rubin Museum offers free admission during regular hours for John Jay College students, faculty, and staff. The museum also has vast resources about exhibitions and Himalayan art and culture available online and on iTunesU.  As we experienced great results in terms of attendance, interest and then awareness of the museum in years past, we plan to work with our Rubin Educational Partnership staff (Laura Lombard and her team) to conduct John Jay student tours at the museum (at least two weeks advance notice for reservations) and “Get to Know the Rubin Museum” sessions on campus for students and faculty in February & March.

The Rubin Museum of Art is located at 150 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011.

Psst... The Library has an online exhibit with helpful resources!

V.  Selection of Award Recipient

The essays will be reviewed by a Faculty and Administrator committee at John Jay, which shall then announce the winner of the Prize.The names of the winners will be published in the campus publication @John Jay and on the John Jay website. Where scheduling allows, the winners of the Prize(s) will be given an opportunity to showcase/present their work as a part of John Jay’s 2015 Research & Creativity Week.

VI. Prize

The Rubin Essay Award shall consist of a certificate, a one-year complimentary pass to the Rubin Museum, and a cash award to be underwritten by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation:

  • 1st prize: $3,000
  • 2nd prize: $2,000
  • 3rd prize: $1,000
  • 2 Special Mention Prizes: $500 each

Awardee’s prizes shall be used in part to cover tuition and other academic expenses. If an awardee owes tuition fees, the award amount will be used to cover those fees first. The remaining funds are disbursed to the awardee to be used at his/her discretion. (Exception: If an awardee is a graduating senior with all tuition fees paid, then full funds go to awardee for use as he/she sees fit.)

Check your email for the competition announcement for an attached guide to certain exhibits in the museum that may help you to think about its collections and prepare you to enter the writing competition. Please remember that visiting the museum is a requirement to win. The museum is full of helpful staff and educators, and is in tune with our mission of “Educating for Justice.” To support your visits to the museum and writing of the essay, the college will invite Rubin Museum educators to campus throughout February & early March during Community Hour. Look for additional emails regarding these sessions in your inbox. For now, prepare for an engaging and stimulating experience with Art and Justice!

We look forward to congratulating you when you win!

Questions? Please contact the Program Manager, Elizabeth Kaylor.