Current events explored at Talk Back Tuesday

By Elyse Greenwood | 9/20/18 11:55am

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Courtesy of GVSU Center for Women and Gender Equity

The Grand Valley State University Center for Women and Gender Equality was almost filled to capacity during the first Talk Back Tuesday of the school year. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the GVSU Center for Women and Gender Equality held this year’s first monthly Talk Back Tuesday in the Kirkhof Center. More than 15 students filled their plates with chicken, fruit and candy to join the center in discussing current news topics regarding gender equality issues. 

“It’s a conversation that can be as broad as the attendees would like for it to be,” said Alex Montgomery, the Assistant Director of the Center for Women and Gender Equality and facilitator of the discussion. “Considering that there’s been a lot of gender-related news that’s come out over the last two weeks, there’s a current events element to it, but we can also have themed conversation as well. It’s really a chance for folks to grab food, and we can talk about hot-button issues, or we can have a thematic conversation about a topical issue that may be taking place over the course of the week or month.” 

Students had many reasons for attending the event, including interest in the subject, free food and class credit as it is LIB 100 approved. 

“I hope to gain a better understanding of what is going on and to give my own input in the discussion,” said Alician House, a first-time participant. “I hope to learn something I didn’t know.” 

The afternoon discussion covered two specific topics: Serena William’s penalization at the 2018 US Open and Ariana Grande’s alleged groping at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. Students explored the consequences of stereotypes, privileges and inequality in relation to these two current events. To end the conversation, attendees were challenged to not be complacent in these issues, even if they are not directly affected. 

“It was really informative and a good place to have these discussions,” said Nokomis Schultz, a GVSU Junior. “I liked the different ages, programs and colors here.” 

There’s more to learn at Talk Back Tuesday than current events, however. Students also learn qualities such as acceptance and understanding. 

“What I really want folks to understand is how a person doesn’t walk in with one particular identity,” Montgomery said. “We’re showing up as a multitude of identities. I know that sometimes people have to choose between their race and their ethnicity, or their gender expression and their gender identity or their religion and their socioeconomic status. So it’s just about really acknowledging the multitude of identities that we have.”

Talk Back Tuesday takes place at 12 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. Upcoming topics for discussion include domestic violence with plans to partner with victim advocates in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October. 

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