Caroline Frank, Staff Writer
On Saturday, August 18, dozens of students from all types of backgrounds gathered in the Century Rooms on the third floor of the Millennium Student Center for You. Me. We. It was an interactive program incorporated into the Triton Take-Off Weekend which allowed students to uncover issues regarding race, sex and the LGBTQ+ community.
The session was hosted by Michael Agnew from GTC Dramatic Dialogues and three actors from his company who put on skits. Their interactions among each other brought up various issues and elicited strong reactions from the students.
According to High Impact Training’s website, GTC Dramatic Dialogues addresses racism, sexism, homophobia and more issues “head on” with straightforward and open discussions with its participants.
“Our mission is to plant seeds and to start a conversation that will hopefully continue,” Agnew said.
The topics they talked about included the following: the distinctions among racism, prejudice and discrimination, homosexuality versus heterosexuality, the connection between minority groups and people struggling with mental illness, femininity versus masculinity, sex versus gender and binary versus non-binary. Students of all different races, religions, sexes, genders, political views and sexual orientations shared their opinions on these matters based on their own experiences.
“I think the program went great,” Agnew said. “This was an awesome audience. People were talking to each other … this struck me as a very diverse group.” According to Agnew, based on someone’s experience, he/she/they will view diversity differently.
“Diversity is contextual,” Agnew said.
Agnew said it’s important to discuss diversity because it highlights the key issues of division in our culture, and the only way to overcome these divisions is to talk about them.
When Agnew asked the audience how their race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, and/or disability affected them, students responded with a plethora of personal stories regarding what makes each of them unique.
Tarika Walton, junior, French, attended the group session. Walton went to You. Me. We. last year and she thinks people were far more engaged this year. She said there were some significant points made.
“Programs like this raise awareness,” Walton said. “People might not think about these issues.”
Walton described how race, sex, and LGBTQ+ issues pertain to her.
“I identify with all of these issues because I am a black female, visually impaired and possibly transgender. I don’t even know how to define my sexual orientation,” Walton said. “[The program] gives me the opportunity to think about how I identify and how I want to present myself.”
Walton shared her hope for how she wants these issues to resolve.
“What I really hope for is that they no longer are issues. We should just break down the standards for how people are supposed to behave and how they’re supposed to identify … People should have the opportunity to choose how they want to be. There is no one true way.”