Since 2013, Coffee and Culture has allowed students to speak about topics they are passionate about which can often be underrepresented ideas and groups.
Still relatively new to campus, Coffee and Culture is trying to find its niche.
Samantha Barnum, junior communications major, is the second coordinator who is now on her third semester in charge.
“My goal for the program is to really help students engage with the material that they are learning a little more,” said Barnum. “Instead of just a lecture for an hour and a half, we really want to engage in dialogue and an open discussion.”
Some of this year’s topics included speakers on religion, sexual assault and mental illness.
“We are trying really hard to get more voices represented,” Barnum said. “Coffee and Culture does a really great job of hearing marginalized voices, which is awesome. Coffee and Culture is a really great platform for those voices to be lifted up a little higher when they’re normally suppressed.”
Students and student organizations are able to put on presentations as well as faculty and other adults.
“That’s what’s cool about having students present too. Instead of just having someone older than you, students are sort of on the same level and playing field as the audience,” said Barnum. “I think having students present helps the audience members know this stuff is happening right in my campus community.”
This year, Coffee and Culture has seen high amounts of student participation, filling the Laird and Alumni rooms with audiences of over 200 people.
Barnum is really enjoying putting it together and said she even learns from the presentations.
Next year, Barnum hopes to have veterans, poets and many more speak, adding to the diversity of perspectives and backgrounds.
“Coffee and Culture is just a really great event for people in our audience to come and learn about things they don’t already know about,” said Barnum. “I think that it’s really cool to see people be uncomfortable, embrace that awkward feeling and using that to learn and better the campus community and that’s really what learning and being part of this community is about.”