Vera Summit kicks off with pre-launch event

Joseph Diebold

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Vera Summit, a new initiative pledging to allow the Northwestern community to “experience the next generation of ideas, all delivered in talks by NU students,” hosted a pre-launch event Thursday at Harris Hall.

About 100 students attended the event advertised as “one hour of mind-expanding talks by NU students.” Emceed by Weinberg sophomore Benjy Leibowitz, the panel featured talks by seven students on a variety of topics, as well as a musical performance from Bienen sophomore Maris Maeve.

Communication senior Trey Herr, one of the organizers of the Vera Summit, said the goal of the spring event is to allow NU students to express the ideas they are passionate about.

“At Northwestern we have a community of intellectuals who have the ability to change our community and also change our world,” Herr said. “The idea of Vera is to showcase those individuals, their interests and their capabilities.”

Herr emphasized the Summit was about more than just rhetoric.

“Your peers are going to identify a problem, something that bothers them, and then they’re going to tell you a solution they think should be done,” Herr said. “This is the spirit of Vera: how can our generation fix it?”

One of the more empassioned talks at Thursday’s event was given by Medill senior Dallas Wright, who spoke about what he called “educational apartheid in Chicago.”

“If you drive around the city of Chicago today, you’ll find that Jim Crow is alive and well in our education system,” Wright said.

Wright, who attended a Chicago Public School, said CPS was getting only 6 percent of its students through college. He called himself a “lottery ticket” because his model – the CPS student who gets into an elite university – is used by administrators as evidence the system is working even though he defied the odds.

The panel served as an introduction to the Summit, which is tentatively scheduled for April 28, and event organizers said they are hoping for 800 attendees.

The Summit’s name was selected because the word “vera,” Latin for “truth,” appears in NU’s motto and on its seal.

Speakers emphasized technology, and Herr talked about the use of social media during the spring Vera Summit, including a requirement that every audience member have a Twitter account.

The “vera” theme was also present throughout the discussion and event slideshow. The slide urged those in attendance to “Go discover something true.”