Students express themselves at SGA’s ‘Breaking Down the Stigma’ event

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SGA Vice President for Student Experience headed Wednesday's event.

Julia Perkins

Freshman John Franklin has performed at events in his hometown in high school, but up until Wednesday night he never had a chance to play guitar by himself in front of a big group at Quinnipiac.

Franklin was one of about 20 students who performed a song, dance or a poem, shared their opinions or expressed themselves at Student Government Association’s (SGA) “Breaking Down the Stigma of the 61 Percent” event on Dec. 2. Approximately 50-60 students filled the Piazza for the occasion.

SGA Vice President for Student Experience headed Wednesday's event.
[/media-credit] SGA Vice President for Student Experience headed Wednesday’s event.

 

The event was meant to give students a chance to feel heard and show who they are, SGA Vice President for Student Experience Lindsey Banks said. After all, 61 percent of students said in a recent SGA Tuesday’s Two survey that they feel they cannot openly express themselves.

“We found that to be a little alarming and we wanted to give students a platform that they could do stuff,” Banks told the crowd at the start of the event. “So tonight really is exactly about that. It’s not necessarily a traditional open mic night, but it’s really open to any form of expression.”

Franklin was among those students who had the chance to express himself when he played guitar and sang on stage three separate times Wednesday night. While he enjoys being a part of QU Notables, he said it is nice to get the chance to perform by yourself sometimes too.

“I love being part of the group, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re up there by yourself it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” he said. “And there’s nothing like it when you get to control a crowd, and you get to sing and you get to be involved with everyone and everybody loves hearing you.”

Junior Andrew Loeser, one of Franklin’s friend, was inspired to get on stage and play guitar too after watching Franklin and the others perform. Loeser told the audience he has social anxiety, but hoped standing up in front of the crowd would give him the confidence he wanted.

At one point, Loeser stumbled a little as he played, but Banks shouted, “Yeah Loeser,” to encourage him, and the crowd cheered. Later in the evening, Loeser and Franklin got back on stage and sang Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” together.

Junior Andrew Loeser performs at Wednesday's event.
[/media-credit] Junior Andrew Loeser performs at Wednesday’s event.

 

Loeser said performing Wednesday night was a big moment for him. Playing guitar is a new hobby he picked up over the summer, and this was his first time playing in front of a public audience. Normally when he plays with friends he gets scared, thinking about how others are reacting to how well he plays.  

“I’ve always wanted to be like I could get up on a stage and sing in front of people,” he said. “And I kind of figured if I could just maybe do it once it wouldn’t feel so hard. So I got up there and I was really, really scared. I was shaking a whole lot as I usually am when I get anxious and I just did it and I feel happier about myself that I did.”

While several students sang or read poetry, one student led the group in a meditation, another tap danced and a few told personal stories. Many students told the audience they had not originally planned to participate in the event, but felt like they wanted to after seeing others on stage. Several students mentioned they had not had the opportunity to do something like this since high school.

Banks said she was pleased with the event, the first of its kind for SGA. Banks and members of SGA’s student experience committee have been planning the night for about a month and came up with the idea as a way to improve campus culture.

“I wasn’t sure going into it what to expect because it was something that was totally different, but my biggest focus was that we had a good variety of people that came up,” she said. “I, really, going into it wanted to see someone or a few people who went up and felt kind of empowered during it and I think we saw a little bit of that.”

As for Loeser, he said after tonight he may decide to perform in front of a big group again.

“It’s given me a little bit of confidence to maybe do something that I’ve never done before,” he said.