For years now, I’ve personally felt like our campus has lacked an easily accessible platform for students to be able to express their ideas. Those of you that were at Whitney about 2 or 3 years ago may remember my orange chair segments on various topics such as “Combatting Global Apathy” and Quantum Mechanics. So, yes, we do have certain outlets for idea expression already at this school, but all other current alternatives are extremely restrictive in terms of speaking format, or non-inclusive in terms of who gets to speak, or restrictive in how frequently there are opportunities to speak. Our club hopes to fill this void by providing those that are passionate about certain ideas to be able to turn those ideas to topics of discussion amongst community members. Our discussions are frequent, extremely inclusive, and have more malleability in terms of what speakers want to be able to do. Talks, discussions, and debates are all examples of various things we can do this year.
Now of course, public speaking isn’t for necessarily everyone, and so most of the time when we meet we’ll simply be having large group discussions that resemble socratic seminars moreso than a series of lectures. Starting next week we will be having general meetings every Friday during lunch in this room. Topics of discussion can be about anything the you guys choose to talk about any given week. At the same time though, another one of the goals we’re trying to achieve is empowering people with the confidence to speak. Just amongst cabinet we have a lot of people who are willing to help those of you that have big ideas but don’t necessarily feel like you know how to be able to express them.
Vox Populi is Latin for “Voice of the People”. We chose this name because we exist primarily to provide a medium, an audience, and moderation for those who wish to express their ideas through discussion, seminar, and/or lecture. We also have the digital infrastructure to go along with our events. All events will be recorded and uploaded on our website, (insert website info here). This is an open club, so you can come and leave as you please, because we want to be as inclusive as possible to everyone in our school. And as you saw today, topics of discussion can be about anything as long as it’s school appropriate and there seems to be people who want to talk about it.
Every couple of weeks we will be assembling symposiums consisting of 3-5 speakers that will be giving up to 10 minute talks on whatever topic they choose. Speakers may choose to have time allotted after their talk to discuss/debate any ideas presented. Any member of the community can sign up to speak for a symposium. Cabinet will vet speakers beforehand to check for preparedness and school appropriateness. Like I mentioned earlier cabinet is also a resource available to less experienced speakers who are seeking assistance for their upcoming symposium talk.
Now, it’s been asked how we can claim to be the “Voice of the People” when public speaking isn’t necessarily for everyone. Well, first of all, unlike what we did today most of our meetings that are not symposiums will be open-ended group discussions that anyone can freely participate in. At the same time, like I mentioned earlier one of our primary goals is to be able to empower students through speech. Personally, I consider myself an introvert. Now, that may come as a surprise to some of you because most of you who do know me know me through my orange chair segments on Whitney Live or because I’m active in speech and debate clubs like MUN and JSA. Over the years I personally feel like I’ve grown a lot through being able to step out of my comfort zone and give speeches large audiences and do these sort of things and that’s why we want to provide you all with similar opportunities to do so here.