S.W.E.R.V.E encourages students to speak up


Forrest Wesley Wills

Syreeta Briggs (left) and Jamila Lovelace (right) promoting S.W.E.R.V.E. at Fresh Fusion.

Maggie Fulmer, Contributing Writer

Many people have a lot to say, but no place to say it. One organization at NKU is looking for a way to change that.

For most of her NKU R.O.C.K.S. experience, Syreeta Briggs didn’t say much. It wasn’t until the program’s talent show that she finally decided to use her voice.

Briggs performed a spoken word poem that night, a poem designed specifically for onstage performance, and realized just how important it is to her to speak up.

Now two years later, Briggs is the president of an organization at NKU encouraging students to do exactly that. The group, Spoken Weapons Engaged to Revolutionize Viewers Everywhere (or S.W.E.R.V.E. for short), is a spoken word organization that aims to advocate for social change in an artistic way.

“S.W.E.R.V.E. just started as an idea. We thought, ‘What if there was an organization that was just a collective of people who want to create art for a purpose?’” Briggs, a junior and B.F.A. playwriting major, said. “We wanted to create a community like that because for a while we felt like we were the only ones.”

Growing up, Briggs didn’t feel like her voice was really being heard. Being the quiet kid in high school as well as dealing with bullying kept her from voicing her opinion.

Jamila Lovelace, creative writing major and S.W.E.R.V.E.’s secretary said she also went through a similar experience.

“I got bullied a lot when I was younger too,”  Lovelace said. “I felt like I was constantly getting rejected and the one thing that didn’t reject me was a piece of paper and a pencil.”

Tekiuh Hutton, a psychology major and the group’s fundraising chair, began expressing herself through journaling and then started writing poems.

“Anything I was angry or sad about, that’s how I could get it out,” Hutton said. “I didn’t really get into spoken word until I got to college and realized I’d actually like to perform this.”

Besides performing at NKU ROCKS, members of the organization have performed at NKU’s MLK Cafe celebration and have done several flash performances in the Student Union.

Briggs, Lovelace and Hutton also taught a workshop a few summers ago through Upward Bound, which was established to provide academic support to high schoolers with the desire to attend college. Through that they were able to help high school-aged kids express themselves creatively by teaching them how to write and perform spoken word.

“It was amazing to see such a transformation in minds that young because a lot of people get stuck in that place where they don’t have an outlet or a way to speak out.” Hutton said.

The group is currently made up of less than 10 official members, but is also in the process of accepting general body members. They are looking to find more fundraising opportunities in hopes to raise money to better the organization.

Their plan is to start holding regular meetings in September, which will be on Fridays. The meetings also include an open mic session, allowing interested students to showcase their talents and get involved right away.

“At the end of the day, S.W.E.R.V.E. is a community,”  Briggs said. “We really want people to know that the heartbeat of what this organization is about is giving people the freedom to be who they are and to express themselves creatively.”

S.W.E.R.V.E. is currently in the process of planning out it’s own official show or performance to happen at NKU sometime this year.