Final fall coffee talk engages students on gender identity

Patience: Waiting for the next presentation on gender identity to begin, Adam Thew, sophomore business major, sits in the Union Underground. Tea, coffee and cookies were free to all students attending.

Julia Eilert

Bringing awareness to gender identity on campus, the Memorial Union teamed up with CAB to discuss the topic in depth at a coffee talk event Nov. 13 in the Union Underground.

“I think for a lot of students it’s a brand new topic, or something that they don’t know about at all,” said Shannon Schwaebler, Campus Activities Board advisor. “I think just opening their eyes to the experiences of students on campus, or people in this world that are very much silenced, allows us to be more inclusive.”

The free event provided students and faculty alike with music, free coffee and a welcoming environment in which to discuss how we define and view gender identity, as well as approach gender issues.

“I figured I would come see what was going on since I don’t have class,” said Adam Thew, sophomore business major. “It’s definitely something we can benefit from. Being more informed on things is just universally helpful. [There is] definitely no harm.”

The YWCA set up a table to support the talk and students were free to ask questions as they came and went throughout the day.

“Obviously it’s not going to solve the issues overnight,” Schwaebler said. “Just having a general understanding of the experiences others are going through is important, though. Having students play a part in the process and really encouraging students to come through word of mouth is beneficial.”

The presentation put on by CAB was run several times, so students could watch it when they came by at anytime.

“I think it’s an important subject to have casual conversations about,” said Becky Bolte, director of Memorial Union. “That’s kind of what the coffee talks were made to do- to bring those subjects that are kind of hard to talk about in a casual manner so you don’t feel threatened or that you can’t have your opinion.”

This was the last coffee talk to occur this semester. They will resume in the 2018 spring semester.

“If we don’t talk about it, who will?” said Jessica Galvin, senior mass media major. “We’re a place that discusses things. We’re a place that is important and puts emphasis on education and discussing these things and trying to figure them out. When we ignore things like this we’re just as ignorant as everyone else.”