A diverse group of students huddled in a group at the Titan Student Union courtyard Monday night. Some were wielding guitars, one practiced cadences with drumsticks, another worked to perfect an original rap.
A variety of talents perform at the open mic and karaoke sessions hosted by Associated Students, Inc., held weekly in the TSU Underground Pub, but this night was special. ASI Productions hosted “Hear Me Out,” an event created for students to share stories about their cultural upbringing as well as their personal experiences.
Rather than filling the small pub, coordinators chose to hold the event outside, underneath the night sky, creating an intimate setting for people to express themselves, said ASI Productions Pub Mondays and Tuesdays Coordinator Susie Law.
“It’s an outlet for students to express their creativity, to enjoy themselves, to make friends, to share their thoughts, feelings and just be able to have fun,” Law said.
Despite the cold, the students cheered each other on, clapped in unison as performers stepped up to the mic to give their rendition of a favorite song.
Performers, even those who needed some encouragement before getting up on the stage, received nothing but support. First-time performers were welcome to sign up and sing along to any of the karaoke tracks available or perform acapella or with accompaniment.
Psychology major Joaquin Gomez-Garcia said he was motivated to join the open mic event after attending one of ASI’s karaoke nights.
Monday night, Gomez-Garcia performed his own spoken word poetry, which touched on his use of psychedelics to help him control the world around him, he said.
“I used marijuana recreationally, among (other) psychedelics, to deal with my stress and issues to keep me at a level where I thought I could function normally,” Gomez-Garcia said. “I came to the realization that at the end of the day, all I really need is a strong sense of who I am and knowing that … the only person I have to look in the mirror is me.”
Students like Phillippe Orea, cinema-television arts and human communications studies double major, habitually make open mic and karaoke with ASI a part of their weekly routine and have watched the community grow over time.
“It’s a good outlet if you have something bottled up inside you,” Orea said. “I encourage anyone to come out because anybody can go up there and perform.”
Other students may use this opportunity as a space to perform pieces they have been working on for some time. Chloe Okura, business major, used Hear Me Out as a place to perform her spoken word poetry.
“I love places and events where students can really express themselves,” Okura said.
Events like Hear Me Out also allow students to connect with one another and form bonds that may not have otherwise been possible.
“By making yourself vulnerable, sharing just that part of yourself, you’re opening yourself up to others, and other people reciprocate that,” Law said.
Many students have a lot going on in their heads and have a lot they want to say, but they do not have a place to express themselves, Law said. Fortunately for students, similar events on campus help them find others who also feel expressive, and ultimately make a community from that, she said.
For students interested in sharing their own stories and open to expressing themselves in a relaxed environment, ASI hosts karaoke every Monday from noon to 1 p.m. and open mics Tuesdays at the same time in the TSU Underground Pub.
“That’s just the magic of open mic,” Law said. “You don’t need a fancy stage … you just need people that are willing to help you out, a supportive environment and the confidence to go up and do something.”