Why Not Speak Day Urges Allyship, Connection


Why Not Speak Day returned, albeit in a different format than past years, but everyone who The Willistonian spoke to about the yearly tradition had a great time and learned a lot.
The annual event took place on April 12 and featured guest speaker Eboné Bell, innovator and founder of Tagg magazine. She spoke about the importance of allyship, creating a strong community, and not being afraid to speak up. Students and faculty members, following Bell’s speech, attended workshops led by the class deans.
Bell was impressed with her visit to campus.
“I truly enjoyed my time at Williston. I was quite impressed with every single student and faculty member I had an opportunity to speak with,” she said. “I’m happy to see young people having much-needed conversations around diversity, allyship, and speaking up. It says a lot about the culture Williston is creating. I left the campus filled with so much joy. And the beautiful weather was just a bonus!”
Traditionally, Why Not Speak Day was primarily student-run. Nikki Chambers, the Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, stepped in this year and enabled students to take a new approach to the day.
“My main goal for Why Not Speak Day was to create an environment in which faculty, staff, and students could engage in activities and dialogue rooted in community connection, learning, and community building with joy remaining at the center of it all,” Chambers said. “As the theme this year was ‘unmute,’ Eboné Bell’s dynamic keynote speech and breakout sessions empowered all of us to think about how we can use our voices to create the change we wish to see in the world.”
Post graduate Jayden Marshall, from Sanford, N.C., enjoyed the class discussions and felt everyone had a message to share.
“My favorite part about Why Not Speak Day was at the very beginning, when we did the step forward if the statement applies to you [exercise],” he said. “I felt that doing this activity helped us realize how much we don’t know about our peers even after going through close to a year of school.”
Sofia Arriaga Balsa, boarding freshman, enjoyed her first Why Not Speak Day experience.
“I find it really awesome that the school makes time for events like this one,” she said. “I think the topics involved in the activities are ones that are very important and at often times are disregarded.”
Sofia especially enjoyed Bell’s keynote speech.
“Her words had a big impact on me, and I won’t forget the meaning she was trying to convey,” she said. “What she said is something that is very significant, and I realized that no one ever talks about the importance of the topic even though I now believe that it could truly change the world.”
In the spirit of bringing students together, the day ended with two hours of games, including four square, giant Jenga, and cornhole, in the center of campus.