Long time, no blog! A quick summary of what I’ve been up to since January: This past spring, I took a bunch of English classes, visited grad schools over spring break (shoutout to Blue State Coffee in New Haven for the fuel!), and finalized my proposal for an Honors thesis. Then, I spent my summer absolutely in love with my internship at Duke University Press. I worked in the Books Marketing Department and even got to write a post for their blog about my experiences.
This semester, I am in three English classes and the research credits of my thesis, and staying busy with my job. I’ve also been listening to too much Blondie and strategizing how to deal with my last chance at Big Deal Traditions. (Let’s be real, the final Yule Log will have me in tears.) Beyond the fundamentals, I am also trying to make the most out of my final 3/4 of a semester at this beautiful place!
‘Making the most out of your time’ is such a subjective phrase, but to me, it means spending time with the people and causes that matter. On a personal level, I’ve decided to revamp my commitments to Lambda Alliance for LGBTQIA+ Students, led by two of my best friends from freshman year, and to VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, a group of students united by a true passion for reproductive justice. The queer and feminist communities (and the significant overlap between them) have been my home base since freshman year, and I am excited at the prospect of recommitting to the meetings and the programming to help these organizations grow in my final semester and a half.
Beyond important student organizations with weekly meetings, though, I’ve noticed that there are more and more opportunities for dialogue around campus, opportunities to sit down, listen up, and talk it out.
In September, the Center for Student Diversity and student facilitators joined forces to host SEED Dialogues. This year, the themes were “For the Hyphenated American: A Dialogue on Multiethnic, Multiracial and National Identity,” “Say What? A Dialogue on Allyship and Speaking Up,” and “A Colorless Rainbow: A Dialogue on Race in the LGBTQ+ Community.” The first two dialogues meet six times throughout the semester and the final dialogue meets twice, making them an ongoing conversation and commitment to the topics. The Center for Student Diversity is hosting a number of speakers and programs this semester, including partnerships with the law school and student organizations, but these student-facilitated discussion groups really stand out.
Last week, the beautiful people of the mental health branch of Health Outreach Peer Educators hosted an event called Re-Envisioning the TWAMP. H.O.P.E. is one of those organizations I have admired from afar since freshman orientation. They have a few different branches, including mental health and healthy relationships, but work together to facilitate health education programs and health outreach on campus: condom delivery services, presentations on healthy long-distance relationships, birthday coupons for local restaurants on every student’s twenty-first birthday. Re-Envisioning the TWAMP was meant to be a dialogue, not a presentation, about campus culture. Even though I didn’t make it to the actual event, I really respect that H.O.P.E. is organizing and hosting these opportunities to talk!
Finally, in the coming weeks, the Weingartner Initiative on Deliberative Democracy is hosting dialogues on issues that matter in the context of American society. Before each deliberation, the participants get an issue pamphlet that details the problem — from child labor to gun violence — and possible solutions. Student fellows design and prepare the pamphlet, but one goal of the initiative is to include a variety of voices and perspectives. As a Government major, I think these sessions are critical, and with the election creeping closer, they’re more important than ever. Get more information on the WIDD (and the people who make it happen)!
Maybe I wasn’t paying as much attention during my first three years here, but I really respect that William & Mary students are taking the lead on these conversations. They already happen over coffee at the Grind and in office hours with professors who care, but I am really excited to see more and more opportunities to sit down and talk it out, whatever it may be.