[NOTE TO ADMINS: If you feel it’s more appropriate to do so, you can just send this to whoever was responsible for organizing/moderating Speak Out. I see a potential for dialogue about the event, though, or I wouldn’t have written this here]
I am a senior, and last night’s Speak Out was the second one I’d ever attended, the first one being my freshman year. Do you know why I didn’t come back to Speak Out for three years? Because the same thing happened then that happened last night: it ended early. People were speaking very quickly, with hardly any time in between speakers, and it was obvious that they were speaking so that they would be heard before their time ran out. Seriously, who puts an hour and a half time limit on a pluralism style event? The point of these events is that you sit in the silence until you feel moved to speak. You don’t speak because your time is running out and so you feel forced into speaking or staying silent for a long time after the safe space has gone away.
So I don’t care if you’re the organizer and you have somewhere to be at 11. That’s fine, I get it, I really do, and you should be able to leave then. But for goodness’ sake, have someone there who can stay for as long as people need the event to go on. From my experiences at Out Talk, I can say it usually takes half an hour or so for the first person to speak, and there can be breaks of 10 minutes or so in between speakers, on average. That leaves room for only six people to speak in the paltry hour and a half that was set, and there were far more than six people who wanted to speak. Speak Out has the potential to be an amazing and powerful space (and it still was last night), but you need to give it the air it requires to be a truly pluralism style meeting. Don’t stifle people who have a hard enough time finding a voice with a time limit.