Last semester, Geneseo tackled issues marginalized students come across on-campus through a late-night comedy show, The ToKnight Show. Now, the show’s creators have returned with a new club that will serve as an outlet to express similar criticisms.
Voices Uncovered was founded by English major sophomore Sandy Brahaspat. Brahaspat was inspired by The ToKnight Show, which was created by history major senior Jenna Lawson. Lawson received a student ambassadorship for diversity for her work with the ToKnight Show. The club will serve as a creative platform for marginalized students to express their concerns about issues like stereotypes and micro-aggressions.
The organization plans on collaborating with existing clubs, such as The Lamron and cultural groups that are already working to meet the needs of students who belong to specific groups. It is in the process of getting officiated by the Student Association.
The club differs from others because it is more communicative, according to Lawson.
“This has more opportunity for reflection and raw expression,” Lawson said. “There’s going to be a blog format and an opportunity for anonymity. A lot of people who tried to get involved with the ToKnight Show were like, ‘I would share my story but I’m not a performer’ or ‘I don’t want my name out there.’ In some cases, it could put someone at risk to be sharing their identity in the context of the story.”
Students will be able to upload poetry or songs they write without having their names attached to these works. This will help students enforce change on-campus and express themselves without compromising their privacy.
For the first 15 minutes of every meeting, there’s an open discourse for students to talk about any negative experiences they have had.
“We think it’s extremely important that all people feel welcomed regardless of their culture or their identity,” Brahaspat said. “We just want to give them a voice and have them feel secure and safe to talk to us. It’s a big step when you have something going against you and you push forth.”
“If one week, a student tells us someone told them, ‘Oh I love your braids’ and tried to touch them, that’s offensive,” Brahaspat said. “If someone said, ‘where are you from, India?’ that’s offensive. During this allotted time that we have, we’re going to give them the opportunity to vent.”
The students will perform a show at the end of the semester. One of the elements that will make it special is that the entire process will be student-run, allowing students to be more vocal about their experiences.
“You feel more open,” Lawson said. “I’ve been in meetings with high-powered people where you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds. You don’t want to seem ungrateful for the opportunities that you’ve been given or the fact that you’re here at all. Of course, even if you have problems with Geneseo, you still love it. You just want to make it better, and sometimes that happens through criticism.”
The club’s board encourages all students to attend its meetings, even if they do not belong to marginalized groups. Voices Uncovered could serve as a learning experience for all parties and in turn potentially bring more acceptance to Geneseo.