Nevada Speakers engage students in thoughtful conversation

4/24/2008 - By: Adrienne Goetz

The inaugural Nevada Speaker Series at the University has seen great success. The bimonthly series has featured several talented speakers from the campus community, northern Nevada, the state and as far away as Africa.

According to Timothy Taycher, contemporary issues chair for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN), the goal of the series is to engage students outside of the classroom, challenging and exposing them to issues locally, statewide and globally.

“I wanted the range of the speakers to be wide,” he said.

The series finale is Tuesday, April 29 at 7 p.m. in the graduate student lounge at the Joe Crowley Student Union. Judy Strauss, associate professor of marketing in the College of Business’ managerial sciences department, is the featured speaker.

Strauss recently published a book, “Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online,” and will present information to students on the topic.

She will speak about the contemporary issue of the “online persona.” According to Strauss, 35 percent of job recruiters will look at these personas and will eliminate potential employees for a job based upon the information they find about individuals online. Her discussion will cover how to keep online personas professional and clean. She will also help students create an action plan for beating competitors in the job market.

Taycher and Eli Reilly, last year’s ASUN vice president of programming and the incoming undergraduate student body president, developed the vision behind the Nevada Speaker Series.

“The purpose was to fill a vacuum in the programming that ASUN was offering students,” Taycher said.

“The Nevada Speaker Series was part of the reason I ran for the position of vice president of programming last year,” Reilly said. “It is important to stimulate dialogue. Once elected, I set aside $20,000 and asked Timothy to create the series. Over the past year he has brought in more speakers than ASUN has had in the last six years.”

The series is set up in a lecture/forum setting. The speaker typically gives a speech or shows a PowerPoint presentation, and then engage students in conversation.

“Oftentimes, the speaker and students are so engaged that they stay 15 to 20 minutes after the session concludes to continue talking,” Taycher said.

To date, speakers who have participated in this year’s series are a reflection of the wide range of issues that Taycher and Reilly hoped for. Presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader, sexual subcultures speaker Susan Lopez and refugees from Darfur all have taken the stage to talk with students.

Nader was the keynote speaker for the November opening of the new Joe Crowley Student Union. He spoke to students on the importance of keeping the environment green, noting the union has many environmentally friendly features.

Lopez, the first speaker of the series, spoke on prostitution and how it should be decriminalized in Nevada.

“This was a hard issue for some students to swallow,” Taycher said. “Many stayed after to talk to Susan about moral acceptance of this issue.”

“In my opinion, the Voices of Darfur event was among the most touching,” he added. “Two refugees from Darfur came and spoke to students about the genocide occurring in their country.”

“This was an issue that students cared about,” Reilly said of the conflict in Sudan. “It touched people’s lives while exposing them to a new idea.”

Series organizers have seen attendance at the events reach 200 people.

“High attendance demonstrates that students want a lecture type of event outside of the classroom,” Taycher said. “We are giving students what they want.”


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