“No ‘boo’s because you’re short or because your feet are too small,” said junior and Sankofa house Residence Life Manager Tierra Masupha as she started the first installation of Sankofa Open Session (SOS).
SOS began as an incentive to facilitate an open forum on campus. Sophomore Louis Weissert, creator of the project, was inspired by the way young people are able to share their ideas and hoped to create this type of space on campus.
“[This summer,] I saw how people our age were able to express themselves in an open and honest way. I really couldn’t think of a place here that allowed for an inclusive and less formal way of sharing,” said Weissert.
Through this, Weissert hopes to hold monthly or biweekly “open mics” in Sankofa house.
“The idea is to create a free space where, as long as you’re saying it respectfully and not in an offensive way, you can say whatever you want,” continued Weissert.
Weissert felt that oftentimes the “struggle at Lawrence is a lot of people with good ideas, but no one to help combine those ideas to work in a bigger way.” For this reason, Weissert stresses an eagerness for collaboration.
“We are more than happy to work with any and all organizations who want to work with us,” said Weissert.
Last Friday’s event was a combination of Habitat for Humanity’s Shak-a-thon and Open Mic with Slam Poetry Club (SPC).
“[The goal is] to give a platform to a lot of people who don’t have one,” continued Masupha. “We hope to inspire, connect, and express.”
Sophomore Harrison Barber participated in the event and admitted a visible difference from typical SPC readings.
“This audience was a lot bigger, so [performers] got to open up and learn how to perform in a different way.”
SOS welcomes any sort of expression, not just spoken word. Organizers foresee the forum extending to different outlets.
“We also want to create a political dialogue—using art and art installations to tie in some aspects of activism,” said Weissert.
Students can look forward to more free space forums from SOS and can get more direct information on their Facebook page.
“We are not a recognized organization [on campus],” concluded Weissert. “We are just a project that we, as Sankofa, put forth to make an open and inclusive community to all different types of people and arts.”