Our Word is a student organization whose mission is to enrich the Columbia University School of the Arts, and the literary community in general, with outreach, advocacy, and inclusion of new and old literary voices.
Our Word’s history is based in activism. In 2000, Victor Cervantes staged a protest to highlight the lack of attention for artists of color on campus. This protest grew into a student organization, with Russell Contreras serving as founding president for the first two years. Our Word supports diverse writers whose identities are traditionally underrepresented, including, but not limited to, persons of color, international students, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA, and women. Our Word is open to anyone in the School of the Arts who is invested in our mission and communities.
Our Word is committed to championing inclusiveness in literature and organizes events to nurture a community of students within and outside the Writing Program. We work with faculty to sustain an ongoing dialogue in support of diversity within the School of the Arts. Our Word builds community by hosting readings, workshops, social events on and off campus, a Writer-in-Residence, and discussions with special guests. These events, with few exceptions, are open to the public.
Writers in Residence
Each semester, Our Word hosts a Writer-in-Residence who works with writing students across genres. This program provides meaningful mentorship and connections for our members.
The Writer-in-Residence will facilitate a workshop and provide one-on-one feedback, as well as give a public reading and participate in additional speaking events as time allows. Their tenure may also include a group dinner and other opportunities for mentoring and networking.
Previous guests have included Namwali Serpell, Safiya Sinclair, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Wesley Brown, Marie Mockett, Samantha Thornhill, Victor LaValle, Hari Kunzru, Colson Whitehead, Cynthia Cruz, and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts.
2019-2020 Our Word Co-Presidents
Celine Aenlle-Rocha & Liza Stewart
2018-2019 Our Word Co-Presidents
Chelsea Roberts & Chenee Daley
2017-2018 Our Word Co-Presidents
Jarrod Harrison & Cyree Johnson
Our Word hosts readings, panels, social gatherings, and workshops, and publishes an annual zine.