Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Building Bridges: open mic, open forum’ to be held on April 4

SGA President Anthony Vitale and Vice President Lily Wallace (Jackson Cote/Daily Collegian)

An event called “Building Bridges: open mic, open forum” is set to take place on Tuesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm X Center in Berkshire Dining Common.

The event, co-sponsored by the Racial Justice Coalition, Student Government Association (SGA) and Center for Education Policy and Advocacy (CEPA), is intended to build bridges, rather than walls, between students from different backgrounds through an open mic and open forum style event.

During the open mic, students will share their experiences on and off campus through creative expression. The open mic portion of the event will be followed by a series of questions to engage students in how they can build solidarity and what resources are available for them on campus.

Stephnie Igharosa, the SGA secretary of diversity, said she wants to be able to cultivate what she can for students through the SGA, Black Justice Coalition and other student agencies.

“This is something that is necessary. I hear students from all different groups talk about facing what they’re experiencing and how sometimes there isn’t an outlet for them,” said Igharosa.

The sophomore biology major on the pre-medical track said a space is needed to talk about what students are experiencing on campus, while bringing students from all different groups together.

“At first we wanted to do a student mixer, but after talking to different organizations like CEPA, the Racial Justice Coalition under CMASS [Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success], Student Bridges and individuals in my life, we started cultivating a bit more to what we have now; an open mic rather than just a student mixer,” she said.

Meir Yishai Barth, the SGA undersecretary of diversity, spoke about how it was important to include the forum portion of the event for allowing people to come together and exchange ideas.

He said one of the goals of the event is to start breaking down barriers between people through creative expression on top of creating an open, safe space to have a facilitated discussion that will allow for the process of skill-building.

“On an individual, as opposed to a communal level, the fostering of diversity is a skill. It’s not just something that happens naturally,” said Barth.

Barth said he hopes this event will lay a foundation for other similar events in the future. Similarly, Igharosa said she hopes that she can create follow up events and build initiatives for the next semester and next year.

“I deeply want to advocate for communities on campus and increase resources and availability, and just help them in any way I can,” said Igharosa.

The open mic is open to everyone of all identities and communities. For those who would like to perform, they can can email [email protected], [email protected] or show up to the event ready to perform.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.

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