By Emma Weidmann | Personal editor
Every Tuesday night, the second floor of the Bill Daniel Student Union Building is bustling with conversation. Table Talk, a student organization founded in 2021 by College Station junior Kylie Vernon and Katy junior Libby Carroll, hosts a wide range of hot topics to debate — always nuanced, always sure to bring lively opinions.
Vernon said she and her co-founder saw a lack of opportunity for open conversations between ideological groups. She said there are discussions within already defined communities, like debates between Christians, but they saw a need for groups of people with different worldviews to be able to communicate with each other.
“We really wanted to create a space where people could come together to interact with people who weren’t in their bubbles and communities at all so they could engage with people who think completely differently than they do,” said said Vernon.
Table Talk hosted discussions on gun control, abortion and more. But Vernon said the group isn’t limited to “hot” topics like politics. They have held meetings focusing on the concept of death and dying, disability and ableism and, more recently, the nuances of consent.
A meeting that emerged from Vernon centered on Baylor’s relationship with the LGBT community, at which several members of Gamma Alpha Upsilon were present. Vernon and Carroll want to use Table Talk as a venue for student groups of various political affiliations, such as Turning Point USA, as well as liberal organizations.
“It was so nice to hear what everyone had to say about [the potential chartering of Gamma]”, Vernon said. “It was [one meeting] where everyone brings their experience. I think it was really insightful because it wasn’t theoretical; we were talking about things that really affect people. I saw a lot of changes in the heart at that time…I saw a lot of difficult conversations going on at that time.
Hilton Head, SC, junior Matthew Schreiner began attending Table Talk regularly at the encouragement of a friend. As an economics major, Schreiner said he likes to take a break from his economics classes to embrace his more opinionated and philosophical side.
“I felt safer to voice my own opinions than ever at Baylor,” Schreiner said. “I’ve learned so much from all the Table Talk conversations I’ve had.”
Schreiner said he often leaves Table Talk with more questions than answers — and that’s a good thing.
“Not all questions are as simple as you think,” Schreiner said. “Now I approach most issues with, ‘Maybe I need to read a little more, think a little more, talk a little more before I make up my mind.’
Carroll said the most rewarding part of Table Talk is the ability of the conversations to teach participants how to relate to others and humanize them, despite their differences.
“I can see how other people’s experiences have influenced their views which may or may not be really different from mine,” Carroll said. “Through this, we are able to find common ground.”