Williston’s fourth Why Not Speak Day—a day set aside for discussions about identity and inclusion—gave the community plenty to talk about and do, with more than 30 student-and faculty-led workshops, a featured speaker, and activities that encouraged empathy.
The theme for this year’s event was “Hello, I’m Proud to Be _____,” and student and faculty presenters wore T-shirts with blank labels that resembled name tags. They used markers to fill in the blank with identifiers such as “a girl in STEM,” “unapologetically black,” and “a daydreamer.”
Morning presentations followed a keynote talk by Jen Croneberger and covered a wide range of topics, including Culture Clashes; Hip-Hop Interrogation: Digging into the Past, Present and Future; Ceilings and Walls: American Immigration Today; Breaking My Silence; Cesium, Coverups, and Communism: The Chernobyl Disaster and its Impact on the World; and Printing Propaganda.
Students then reflected on the morning’s activities with their advisors and ate lunch.
In the afternoon, the community engaged in a fishbowl activity. Affinity groups were invited onto stage based on race, gender and sexual orientation. For example, the facilitator might say, “If you identify as black and would like to answer questions about race, you are invited to do so.” Then black students who moved onto the stage would expand on this statement, “I feel like I must work 10-times harder than my white counterparts to be taken seriously both socially and academically.”
“The day was a huge success, in terms of engaging students and moving often-difficult conversations forward,” said Erin Davey, director of inclusion and community life, and the faculty organizer of Why Not Speak Day.
See portraits here.