Amherst LEADS kicked off programming for the Futures group on Tuesday, September 19th and it was an energizing one. Performance groups, Team Sunshine and the Philly Pigeon, teamed up to run an exhilarating workshop meant to get the student-athletes outside of their comfort zones and in the spotlight.
The specific event that took place is one that has happened in Western Mass before and is so unique in its entirety; the Society of Civil Discourse. Society of Civil Discourse is an interactive night of debate, appreciation, hating and rhetorical excess, it is about style, not substance. The event gives people a chance to have fun in community.
The goals of this event were for student-athletes to not only be passionate about speaking and having an opinion, but also be passionate about listening and supporting one another with passion. Team Sunshine put the group to the test with a couple “stations” that required students to be bold. The evening took place in two phases:
Phase 1: Talking Stations
- Student-athletes randomly drew topics and had to convince those listening why they hated this topic. Topics ranged from unicycles to wet shoes and included some of the more random items you can think of. Students had to be, again, passionate but also creative.
- Student-athletes took turns drawing random topics from an assortment of topics and passionately spoke about why they loved these items. Topics ranged from calligraphy to really big dogs and more. Creativity played a big role in the appreciation station as well
Rapid Debate Station- What had a greater impact on human history
- Two students debated in favor of their topic. They took turns with three sections of the debate: opening statement, rapid fire facts and a closing statement. Students looking on were able to rally around those debating and show their support. An example of a topic that was particularly entertaining was The Red Sox vs. Red Socks, this one got the crowd going.
Phase 2: The Great Debate
- Throughout the first phase, members from Team Sunshine identified the students that stood out the most during the phase 1 stations. A group of ten students were placed in two teams of five to debate why two objects impacted and changed the course of the universe/human history. The objects up for debate; bean bag chairs vs. scented markers. The two teams worked through the debate in five rounds: opening statement, a personal story (real or fake), statistics (real or fake), Mime and a closing statement. While both teams were fantastically animated and creative, ultimately the group defending scented markers took the crown.
This first event required students to be bold, use their voices in ways they normally wouldn’t, practice their public speaking and support one another even if they were debating an arbitrary, useless subject/object- because that is when you have to be the most engaged, innovative and convincing to get your points across. The futures came together in an evening of playfulness and were able to take away lessons on the importance of speaking up and bringing their passions to light on a daily basis.
The Society of Civil Discourse, brought to the group by Team Sunshine and the Philly Pigeon was a great way to tee up the year for the futures, and we can only hope that the passion seen during this first event is carried through for the entire year!
What’s Next for LEADS? The First-Years Welcome Night on Monday, September 25th-8:00pm in Stirn Auditorium.