By Giovanni Maccarone
Open Mic nights are a safe space for students to express themselves without feeling judged, English Professor Jane Focht-Hansen said at the event Sept. 20 in Loftin Student Center.
“At least once a month you can go out and loosen up a bit, be a little crazy, practice your speech if you’ve got one coming up for class,” Focht-Hansen said.
“If you want to dance, that’s cool,” she said. “We don’t care.”
This was the first Open Mic night of the semester presented by the Cheshyre Cheese Club.
About 10 students snacked on cookies and coffee as they listened to fellow students read poetry, show off artwork and perform music.
Focht-Hansen said watching students build up courage is an experience that makes life good.
“You can be really happy with your bank balance, but you don’t get to hear somebody get brave,” she said. “For Joseph to feel comfortable enough to do that is pretty wonderful. “And I think everybody in the room understood that.”
She referred to general science sophomore Joseph Garza who spoke shortly and placed his notebook of drawings on a table in the front for everyone to look at, then stepped away.
Focht-Hansen said that “that was pretty interesting” and “brave.”
“I can’t really express emotions in the best way so drawing is the best way I know how,” Garza said.
He explained that dealing with autism spectrum disorder has made it difficult to socialize on a daily basis, but walking into a welcoming environment has made it easier.
Theater sophomore Alexa Garza read original poems.
“I had done poetry in high school and then I stopped,” she said.
“It was because of this crush on this guy and the heartbreak that I even picked up a pen and started writing because the feelings just got too intense,” Garza said.
Her emotional poems inspired others in the audience to go to the front and read their own poems.
“If you were watching folks, when it started everyone was nervous, but now people’s shoulders are back and they’re enjoying themselves,” Focht-Hansen said.
“I just think it’s a great place to share your talent, take a deep breath and figure out a way to make it to the next day,” she said.
The Cheshyre Cheese Club meets at 2 p.m. every Tuesday in the writing center in Room 203 of Gonzales Hall.
The next Open Mic night is 6 p.m. Oct. 25 in Loftin and will include a Halloween costume contest.
For more information, email Focht-Hansen at email@example.com.