A new semester means many new things, including new clubs. This fall, Brandeis welcomed its newest club, TableTalk, which which aims to foster conversation between students on a range of topics. At its first event on Oct. 1, students gathered on the couches in the SCC Atrium to speak to each other. Brandeis sophomores Anna Stern ’18 and Skye Golann ’18 started the club, hoping to improve culture on campus by bringing students together via discussion.
To make this happen, Stern reached out to the founders and presidents of TableTalk at Emory University. Ami Fields-Meyer and Adam Goldstein, seniors at Emory, created TableTalk, which breaks down into three types of initiatives: TableTalks, LookUp and CampusCouches. According to an article out of Emory News Center last year, these programs “offer a framework for cross-cultural conversation, harnessing the power of one-on-one dialogue to intentionally bring together people who otherwise might not have an occasion to meet or interact.” Their goal was to push Emory students out of their comfort zones and to speak about issues with someone who is actively listening.
LookUp is organized around a meal where participants put down their phones and talk to each other, guided by conversational cue cards, especially refreshing for today’s college students. TableTalk involves two distinct groups having a pre-planned talk. At CampusCouches, students set up furniture and have a free-flowing conversation. At Brandeis, Stern and Golann organized a CampusCouches event for their first TableTalk gathering.
Stern was interested in bringing this initiative to Brandeis because while the university prides itself on being a close-knit community, she felt that there were many polarized social groups on the basis of race, religion and political viewpoints. Additionally, both she and Golann wanted this space to be comfortable so as to deter students from getting agitated or defensive about their opinions. They feel that an overarching benefit of this club will be its movement to make Brandeis become more united as a student body. “We see the club becoming a staple at Brandeis and really connecting the community we want to know better and love,” said Stern.
TableTalk’s Oct. 1 CampusCouches event was a success for a club previously unheard of. They set up couches in the SCC Atrium for a few hours and invited passersby to sit down and chat for a few minutes, hopefully with a fellow student whom they had never met. During this event, students talked with peers in different years, something that does not often happen outside of classes and clubs. They plan on hosting a LookUp in the dining halls as the club’s next event sometime this semester.
While Stern and Golann do not necessarily want to make a career out of facilitating discussion, they are both very passionate about making this club prominent on campus. Golann’s is “motivated slightly by my interest in politics and my experiences with the divisions in American politics and American society but is more about my desire to change and improve the campus culture here at Brandeis.” The two also hope to bring other clubs together to speak about issues that make them unique.
If students or clubs are interested in getting involved with TableTalk, they are encouraged to reach out to Stern or Golann, who is also a Class of 2018 senator.