“Oz Speaks,” a series of moderated speak-outs, is enabling students to express their thoughts and feelings about vital topics of today, from the shootings at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub to Black Lives Matter, from the concept of political correctness to Blue Lives Matter. Launched by the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Oz Speaks events provide campus citizens an opportunity to be heard in a sharing atmosphere.
“Speak-outs are not debates, educational workshops, intellectual discussions or opportunities to lay blame or perpetuate hate,” wrote Dean of Students Jerri D. Howland on behalf of the Oz Speaks organizing committee. “They are to listen … listen … and be validated by one’s community.”
Participants are encouraged to be creative in their expressions—song, rap, poetry and so on—as long as the expression is “from the heart” and uses “I” statements to express one’s feelings or share one’s fears. Staff members are on hand, including counselors for individuals who may need a more private space to share.
“The only acceptable response to another’s speak-out is ‘two snaps’ or … thank you for speaking out,” Howland wrote.