Why Not Speak Day to Address Tough Social Topics

This year Williston is set to proudly host the fourth Annual Why Not Speak Day.

Why Not Speak Day is a chance to discuss topics that are often emotionally heavy but necessitate action and discussion. The day, which features more than 30 student workshops, will be on January 28. Regular classes will not run; the day will be devoted entirely to the workshops.

Founded in 2017 and hosted by Erin Davey, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Multicultural Student Union, Why Not Speak Day is, according to Davey, “a day to speak truthfully, listen intently, and engage respectfully.” This year’s theme is “Proud to Be.”

“[Why Not Speak Day] was a thing before, but [when] Davey came on campus she decided there needed to be an [opportunity] for everyone to speak their truth,” said Tomi Akisanya, a Junior and leader of the MSU, “This year we’re trying to make it as impactful as possible.”

“There were always workshop style days when students and faculty came together,” says Davey, “but it looked a little different.” She noted this year the addition of a keynote speaker.”

This year, the format of WNS Day will be largely the same — with a few changes. “This year we’re actually taking it to a new level,” Davey said. “We’re incorporating fishbowl activities and an open mic at the end of the day as opposed to another speaker.”

She continued, “I’m hoping an open mic will allow people to share what they learned and reflect; maybe also thank somebody and have a little bit of a revelation.”

Many agree it’s the student-facilitated nature of the day that makes it truly special. Workshops this year will cover everything from the history of hip hop to more difficult topics including white privilege, gender and sexuality, and sexual assault. “They’re all incredibly interesting,” said Davey.

Tomi shared with the Willistonian the story of the first workshop she ran.” Anaya Akpalu ’21, Adamma Eze, Anne-Valerie Clitus ’21, and I ran a workshop on the n-word, and I thought that no one would show up because they’d be scared to talk about it,” Tomi said. “But the amount of people that came and supported and were interested in learning about it” was impressive.

The impact of WNS day is one noted by the whole community. In a letter to the school after last year’s Why Not Speak Day, Head of School, Mr. Hill, wrote, “What a gift to be able to take a break from our routines to hear from one another on a broad range of topics tied together by a common strand—the sharing of perspectives and talents in a respectful environment.”