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Tea, snacks and an in-depth look at voting rights

“I think it would be great to get folks [to understand] the importance of how diversity and cultural identity affects everything,” said Carlos Turcios, program associate for diversity and inclusion at the Mosaic. “I think people only think that, you know, race only matters here and class only matters here. But it’s actually like we bring this everywhere.”

The Mosaic launched this semester’s “What’s the (T)ea?” discussion series by exploring voting in our social identities. Participants shared their personal experiences and learned about the history of voting rights. The discussion focused on how one’s social identity can affect their ability to vote in elections. Students explored this idea by taking a literacy test that people had to pass in the 1960s to be able to vote.

“The whole point is to frustrate you. Because I wanted you to learn that, crap, this is the BS that people had to go through to fill [a voting ballot] out,“ said Turcios.

The discussion also focused on the role of voting in today’s society and how some groups have faced hardships when going out to vote. Students also watched YouTube videos that highlighted the social movements that have led to changes in voting laws. The videos reflected on today’s voting conditions and how some groups have trouble, or are unable, to vote in elections. The difficulty the disabled and ex-convicts face in being able to vote was especially emphasized.

“Today was mostly getting people to think about how important it is to vote, or what’s the significance behind voting,” said Carlos Turcios.

“What’s the (T)ea?” is a monthly discussion event hosted by the Mosaic focusing on topics relating to current social issues. The title is a play on the phrase used in gay ball culture, “What’s the T,” where the T stands for talk of the town. The discussions are set in the Commons room 329 with tea and snacks provided.

Each “What’s the (T)ea?” discussion focuses on different social issues that face American communities today. Each discussion is packed with activities and different topics to touch on every aspect of the issue. Next month, on April 5, “What’s the (T)ea?” looks at taxes and how it affects many groups, especially those who cannot vote for the tax policy they want.

“I don’t think there’s another environment or most people around our age group that have this type of access. Like I can’t think of many communities that have the ability to create all types of programming to intentionally teach people about different diversity topics,” said Turcios.

The Mosaic’s “What’s the (T)ea?” discussions are an opportunity for UMBC students to share their experiences and hear other students opinions on current social issues. The discussions are an opportunity to learn how students can make a difference and what problems need to be solved.