Why we talk?

The purpose of We Talk programming is to foster a campus culture of responsible and respectful civic, social, political and policy engagement. This will be achieved by raising awareness about free speech protections and promoting the value of respecting viewpoint diversity as part of the academic setting and learning environment. Join our email list via the link below to receive reminders and links to virtual events.

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Fall 2020

We are actively working on finalizing details for the following events, which will be updated on an ongoing basis. Please use the hyperlinked contact for questions about specific events. And, if you haven't already, we welcome you to engage by joining our  e-mail list to receive updates and links to all events.

We Talk Campus Read

Academic year program
Book: “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” 
By Jonathan Haidt
Contact: Jennifer Townsend

The Realities of Free Speech

Early September
Join other WMU students for an interactive discussion about free speech rights and responsibilities on campus presented by
Jessica Swartz, WMU associate general counsel. 

Student advocacy for institutional change

Mid September
In collaboration with the Western Student Association and other registered student organizations, this student-led panel will explore advocacy through WMU’s history, particularly the 1968 student sit in at the Admin Building related to racial inequity and unrest and the 1990 student sit in at the Bernhard Center related to suspension of the African American Studies program. How have student groups and WSA worked together to affect institutional change? Find out in this virtual panel discussion between past and current Broncos. Contact: Emma Baratta

Making the Case for Public Health: From Flint to COVID-19 

7 to 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020
Zoom meeting

Learn how Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha combined data, passion, personal experiences and effective partnerships to advocate for real change during the Flint water crisis she chronicled in her book: What the Eyes Don't See. Hosted by the Offices of Government Relations and Community Partnerships, Portage District Library, the Merze Tate Explorers and Half Century Book Club. Contact: Margaret von Steinen

The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters

Early October
Keynote virtual presentation by Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, author of the book, The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters
Hosted by WMU We Vote and the League of Women Voters of the Kalamazoo Area.
Contact: Dr. Denise Keele


launch event: 
Embracing Free Speech and Civil Discourse Panel Discussion

Thank you to everyone who participated in the WMU We Talk launch event on Feb. 11, 2020. A video recording of the event is available; the panel begins at the 18:36 mark, preceded by a welcome and an ice breaker activity.

Feb. 11 video

Tuesday, February 11, 3:30 p.m.

Fetzer Center Rooms 1035-1055

  • Welcome—Malia Roberts, president, Administrative Professional Association and Shannon Rininger, president, Professional Support Staff Organization
  • Civil discourse icebreaker hosted by WeVote
  • Panel discussion--see panelists below
  • Parting thought: Carol Weideman, faculty specialist II of health and wellness and faculty specialist II of exercise science
  • Closing remarks: President Montgomery  


  • Candy McCorkle
    Moderator, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Richard Gershon
    President, Faculty Senate, Professor of Communication and Co-Director of Telecommunications and Information Management
  • Bre Lockhart
    Recent WMU graduate
  • Craig Morris
    Student, President, Graduate Student Association
  • David Paul
    Chair, Department of Philosophy
  • Lauren Smith
    Student, President, Western Student Association
  • Jessica Swartz
    Associate General Counsel, Office of General Counsel
  • Jennifer Townsend
    Executive Assistant, Lee Honors College