A Time to Speak: Open Mic Night

Christina Kelso

On the evening of Friday, Nov. 4, the walls of Nellies echoed with the uncensored exhibitions of student voice. Jacksonville University’s first Aquarian-sponsered Open Mic Night occurred in the midst of a small, comfortable crowd.

This event was the artistic brainchild of the Aquarian, JU’s literary and arts magazine, which publishes an annual, juried magazine exhibiting student work. A proud milestone for the organization, open mic night, alongside its grand reveal party and exhibition for the 2011 edition of the Aquarian, was one of the first events the Aquarian has hosted on campus.

Traditionally focusing their energy on publicity and publishing, this year the ambitions of the organization took a step further. Events such as Open Mic Night, which will be continued every first Friday through April, excluding January, were established by the club with the intention of gaining rapport amongst the JU community and providing additional outlets for student expression.

“Friday’s Open Mic Night was a good first run,” said sophomore and Aquarian editorial staff member Kyla Wade. “It represents the Aquarian’s appreciation for everyone’s self expression and I think everyone had a good time. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one.”

Emceeing the event was sophomore Spencer Jack, a member of the magazine’s editorial staff. At the events beginning, he swiftly shattered the ice by reciting a few of his own favorite poems. With this Jack set the comfortable mood, keeping it flowing as he continued to encourage members of the crowd to come to the stage, bringing their own words and emotions into the light.

“I thought that even though there were not many people at the open mic last night those who were there enjoyed it,” said Ryan DiBenedetto, junior attendee and participant.

The small size of the crowd, a gathering of about ten people, was part of the event’s appeal. Around each speaker, the attendees gathered in a semi-circle, attentive and lighthearted.

“I feel like these events give students a chance to branch out and express themselves creatively,” said Kara Feinstein, senior and editor of the Aquarian. “That is one of the goals of the Aquarian and is one of the main reasons the editorial team decided to create an event such as ‘Open Mic Night.’”

In a place such as JU where the individuals within it derive from a myriad of backgrounds, experiences and ideals, every mind has a voice and every voice, no matter what it is or how it is conveyed, has something to say.