Speaker series sparks diversity

Kate Wegehaupt

Kate Wegehaupt

Spring semester is all about diversity, as organizations, committees and campus groups bring a vast variety of speakers to SDSU, providing an outlet for new voices.

One such series, the University Speakers, offers a broad spectrum of lecturers.

The list ranges from Susan Power, the keynote speaker for the American Indian History and Cultures Conference and author of The Grass Dancer, to Dr. Gunda Georg, speaking on the development of anticancer agents from natural products, to Martin Bloem, the Chief of HIV/AIDS and Nutrition policy for the United Nations World Food Program.

The eight speakers in the series, the most recent of which was Ashok Kumar Attri, the Indian Consul General, were selected with diversity in mind.

“It’s really a nice collection of voices to bring to campus to offer a different perspective that we’re not going to get every day in Brookings,” said Tim Nichols, dean of the Honors College. “It can enliven our academic and co-curricular experience.”

The series provides an in-depth look into each issue, while still applying to people of all study areas.

“They are designed to speak to a general public audience, so when Dr. Gunda Georg comes to talk about cancer research, she’s not just coming to speak to the biochemists, but a broader audience,” said Nichols.

One such University Speaker is Jessica Valenti, the founder of Feministing.com.

“We’re hoping she’ll especially appeal to students on campus, and whether they agree or not, that it’ll get students talking about issues relevant to women’s rights,” said Laura Wight, chair of the Harding Lecture Committee, which is hosting the event.

The event is co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Advisory Council and the Campus Women’s Coalition.

Valenti will speak on “Purity, Sexism and Power” at the Performing Arts Center on March 2.

Apart from the University Speaker series, a spoken word poet, Jon Goode, will be at Jacks’ Place in The Union on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. The event is hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs to honor Black History Month.

Spoken word poetry is not a mainstream performance art in South Dakota, but Solomon Derby, assistant programmer for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said it has diverse appeal.

“Think of this poetry in the sense of rap, but without the music behind,” said Derby. “It’s that style of flow; it has a rhythm to it, and with a majority of these individuals, there’s always a positive point behind their story.”

Goode has performed on Russell Simmons’ HBO Def Poetry Jam and has had work featured in Nike print and McDonald’s radio ads.

His poetry has been performed on the same stage as Jamie Foxx, Kanye West, Mos Def and many others.

“It’d be very exciting and educating to see this side of poetry,” said Derby. “He brings his words alive.”

Craig C. Culver, founder of the Culver’s franchise, is also coming to campus.

As one of the speakers for SDSU’s Entrepreneurship Week, Culver will speak about franchising and starting a business on Feb. 22 in the Volstorff Ballroom.

Culver highlights his company involvement as important. He plays an active role, often visiting franchises and working with individual Culver’s owners.

Attending site openings and speaking engagements is another way Larry Swain, instructor of entrepreneurship, views Culver as successful.

“He’s typical of very successful entrepreneurs in that they’re willing to give back,” said Swain.

Culver attended the ribbon cutting of Brookings’ own Culver’s Restaurant.

“From what I’m seeing of Culver’s, it’s a first-class operation, and it’s got a niche,” said Swain. “Craig will talk about how you make your franchise successful.”

All students are encouraged to attend, not simply entrepreneurship majors.

“We’re hoping Craig Culver will give people some confidence,” said Swain.

With so many different types of speakers coming to campus, students should prepare for interesting and thought-provoking discussions.

“I’ve gone to as many [lectures] as I could fit into my schedule and every time, I thought the speakers were highly qualified and brought a well-informed perspective, often hard to hear in other places,” said Patrick Weber, mathematics graduate student.