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Speak Up, Speak Out to focus on clean water, safe spaces for spring

The election might be over, but Speak Up, Speak Out will still encourage students to think critically, stay informed and consider important issues during the spring semester.

A town hall style forum, SUSO brings together students, faculty and staff to discuss a variety of trending topics.

“What we try to do as a series is create a space where all members of the campus community have a place to talk about issues that matter to them,” said Andrew Blom, a professor of philosophy and religion. “We want to have a discussion that helps all of us engage in active citizenship and take a stake in the direction of our world.”

In the fall, four forums were organized that revolved around the election. This semester, SUSO has two forums scheduled that focus on social justice and environmental issues. Blom chairs a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni that work together to choose topics that are of interest to students.

The first forum, “From Flint to Standing Rock: Communities and the Environment,” is scheduled for February 14. The meeting will revolve around the Flint Water Crisis and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Blom said, but the topic will also be broadened to discuss access to clean water throughout the country.

“Environmental issues have been of great interest to students who’ve come to past events,” Blom said. “We wanted to focus a forum on some of those issues but also encourage people to think about how environmental issues can impact communities as a whole.”

The second forum, “Safe Spaces / Free Expression? How do academic freedom and equal education coexist?” is scheduled for March 21. Blom said the discussion will focus on creating a campus environment that’s inclusive and welcoming to everybody, while also encouraging free expression and the ability to have different points of view.

“Some people see those two things as coming into conflict,” he said. “We want to have a look at those concerns that people have and look at what possibilities there are to create an environment where both of those values can be expressed.”

To find out more about Speak Up, Speak Out or to get involved visit their website.