The Undiscussed aims to get students talking.

"One of the major goals is to bring people to get together to talk about ideas that they wouldn't normally talk about with people outside of their own social circle," said Maria Koenigs '09, a member of this year's Undiscussed leadership team.

The Undiscussed, which began meeting this week, is a dialogue project whose mission is to explore issues of "identity" at Bowdoin, and eventually enact change. Eighty-six participants will meet in nine small groups, under the leadership of two student facilitators. Each group will meet for four 90-minute sessions this month.

"The whole idea of talking about taboo subjects, the ability to talk about [them] in confidential settings where someone can feel open and no one felt held back, that prompted me to join," explained first-year participant Kris Klein. "I wanted to see how Bowdoin students really think about stuff."

The program, which is in its second year, is spearheaded by Koenigs, Becca Schouvieller '10, Scooter Walsh '09, Cameron Weller '11, and Elise Selinger '10. The leadership team, working from last year's program, developed a discussion guide that outlines general talking points they hope address during each 90-minute session.

Alyssa Chen '08 started the project last year after learning about "study circles"—a dialogue group format—in an education course from guest speaker Jim Noucas. Noucas, who has two daughters who attend Bowdoin, has experience with study circles in Portsmouth, N.H.

Though the Undiscussed was not officially recognized as a club by Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) last year, it now receives funding through the Student Activities Committee (SAFC). Assistant Director of Residential Life Dudney Sylla '08, who helped Chen with the inception of the group last year, serves as the club's adviser.

According to Koenigs, last year's Undiscussed became informally centered on the topic of race at Bowdoin, which she said "limited some groups." The group leaders have designed this year's project to focus on the broader topic of "identity."

"Part of it is just talking and getting to a better sense of this community that you're a part other people are at the exact same place and doing the exact same things that you are doing, but having a really different experience," said Schouvieller.

The discussion guide outlines a framework for each group's four meetings. The groups that already met this week talked about the concept of identity broadly. Next week will focus on general and personal identity at Bowdoin, the third week will examine issues relating to identity at Bowdoin, and the fourth week will be dedicated to creating action plans to instigate changes on campus.

"We tend to shy away from thinking about and discussing important and difficult issues," said Noucas. "The dialogue process creates an opportunity for people to come together in a trusted environment where there is really a level playing field, where people are asked to listen as much as they are to talk."

Facilitator Will Cogswell '11 shared the experience of his first session talking about identity.

"My group was talking about how that is what we impose upon people, that's not how they identify themselves. Being able to look at somebody and see the qualities that they would like to put forward, not the qualities we'd like to impose on them," Cogswell said.

Facilitator Julie Endrizzi '09 said she hoped participants "will speak with their own groups of friends about [what they discuss in the Undiscussed] or say something in class about it."

"It's a confidential process, but often the ideas themselves bear repeating without saying who said them or the context it was said in," she added.

Schouvieller expressed that although last year's Undiscussed was successful in generating creative, constructive dialogue and brought ideas for action initiative before campus administrators, she hopes that this year's session will be more organized toward a goal of enacting change.

"I would really hope that some of the answers or recommendations that the groups come up with actually have the time to turn into things that really happen," she said.

"We're going to have two dinners after Spring Break, one with just all the groups together so you can hear what other groups talked about and then one with student leaders and faculty and staff, with a more formal presentation," Schouvieller explained.

Facilitator Anna Noucas '11 spoke about the eventual action initiatives her group will come up with.

"I definitely expect them to be feasible and I'm excited to put whatever plan my group comes up with into action," she said.

After attending his first session on Monday, Klein said, "If everyone takes something from [the Undiscussed], I think that it will be an open mind and they'll understand that stereotypes are just stereotypes and people all have their stories and in the future, hopefully people will be less judgmental and more open to understanding each other."