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Tent Talks are an opportunity to engage in facilitated discussions on the issues you care about most! These student-led events are designed to create a space where students, faculty, and staff can approach what may seem like a difficult conversation in a respectful, educational, and constructive manner. The goals of Tent Talk events are to promote greater understanding, to dialogue with others who hold diverse views and to form an educated opinion on challenging and complex issues our society faces today.

Tent Talks

Since October 2018, we've done Tent Talks on the following topics: 

  • Impeachment - Democracy Fellows Angelina Clapp, Mary Tolentino, and Bryana Moore researched and constructed this Impeachment primer to educate on the Impeachment process. Special shoutout to Graduate Assistant, Sarah Gully, for the idea of peaches & mints.
  • Immigration - Democracy Fellows Mary Tolentino and Angelina Clapp created an Immigration primer on local and national immigration statistics. We partnered with a delegation of students visiting JMU from UC San Diego for the tent talk challenging students to recognize the privileges of citizenship.
  • 2020 Census - Democracy Fellows Angelina Clapp and Bryana Moore collaborated to produce a 2020 Census fact sheet for JMU students. The primer provides information on the importance of being counted and where students will be counted.
  • Overview of the Virginia General Assembly
  • Life and Legacy of Paul Jennings - D.E.E.P. Impact collaborated on the coordination and facilitation of a tent talk about Paul Jennings and the naming of the new residence hall on campus. The talk was opportunity for students, faculty and staff to learn more about Paul Jennings and to deliberate on the naming of the new residence hall for him. Paul Jennings, an enslaved African American who served the Madison family both at Montpelier and in Washington, D.C., bought his freedom, was a community leader and memoirist. His brief volume, entitled A Colored Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison, is considered the first memoir about life at the White House. It’s also a rich firsthand account of the relationship between slave and slaveholder—even more valuable for its insight into a system that was at odds with its perpetrators’ values. Jennings’ story is exceptional in comparison to the experience of other enslaved individuals of the time.
  • Dismantling Racism - This Tent Talk came just three days following revelations that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had worn blackface. Although the racist actions in college of Governor Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring (revealed just days after) made the headlines, they are just symptoms of a deep history of racism and discrimination in Virginia and in institutions of higher education.
  • National Debt

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