By Tiffany Pelt
Texas State News Intern
In an effort to unify all aspects of the Texas State community, whether its students and faculty or academic departments and organizations, individuals across campus have created an insightful year-long initiative to strengthen the University as a whole.
This unique event, known as “Common Experience,” has a different theme each year to explore in depth the issues that surround us in daily life.
At the start of each new academic year, a theme is chosen along with a well-known novel that exemplifies and focuses on that specific topic.
Such issues as hatred and courage were chosen in previous years accompanied by the books Night by Elie Wiesel and Tim O’Brien’s If I Die In a Combat Zone.
This year’s selection, Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez, perfectly embodies the new “Protest and Dissent: Listening to the Voices of America” theme.
Such a powerful theme encourages students to broaden their views and to understand that as a nation we are not all alike, but carry different ethnicities, beliefs, and views of the world.
This campus-wide discussion asks each individual to open their minds and delve deeper into what one assumes is normal and to not only learn, but listen as well, to those with differing opinions and beliefs.
Over the course of the year, events relating to this issue have been put together so that students and community members may get involved and become better adapted to the multi-cultural society around us.
During the fall semester, author of the chosen novel Luis Valdez came to Texas State to speak to students and the community of the social conditions that led to the Zoot Suit Riots.
Famous actor, director, producer, and community activist who landed a role in the film Zoot Suit, James Edward Olmos, made an appearance on campus to emphasize the importance of standing up for what one believes in.
Other events included several philosophy dialog series based on dissenting voices such as Gandhi, and a Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference with distinguished public speakers and scholars addressing diversity and equity issues.
The conference, not just exclusively for Texas State students, branched out to the San Marcos school district and held poster contests that illustrated diversity in the families.
Upcoming common experience events for the spring semester include many activities to get the community to explore the issue at hand. Music lecture series, several relevant movies such as An Unconvenient Truth are put on by the organization SACA, Protest and Dissent Art Exhibits, and performances by artists from the Jullliard School are just a few of the free events that Texas State encourages the community to attend.
Prominent speaker Lonnie Bunch will hold a lecture on the “Importance of African American History” in February.
Well-known Chilean novelist Isabel Allende will visit campus and read from some of her famous works on April 11.
Although Common Experience was created with the idea of unifying the University and creating lasting bonds between the students, this program has stretched its arms to encompass the surrounding community, in hopes of bringing together individuals of all sorts, teachers, students, parents, businessmen, church goers, foreigners, by just a simple “common experience” that we can all relate to in our own ways.
For dates, times, and locations of this year’s common experience activities please visit online at www.txstate.edu/commonexperience and click on related events near the bottom of the page, or if you have any questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.