The New University Union was the site for a group of students surrounding a saffron sofa and speakers blasting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches on Jan. 27, all in an effort to introduce Binghamton University’s Sitting Club.
The Sitting Club is a Student Association-chartered club that began last semester with the goal of encouraging students to take time to just sit in meditation.
The club meets Mondays at 7:30 p.m. above the Susquehanna Room, where each member participates in guided meditation and relaxation exercises.
“There is the satisfaction of knowing that people might find peace by coming to this group or begin to find their spiritual path. It is a great gift to give yourself,” Deirdre Arsenault, vice president and co-founder of the club, said of the club’s aim.
When asked about the interesting name choice, junior club member Michael Bush said that associating the club with a specific religious or philosophical idea would put the club “in a container.”
“What we are is something else. When I think of the Sitting Club, it makes a difference,” Bush said. “Students can just stop and sit and be something else.”
Wednesday’s couch event was, in part, a reflection of celebration of King following his birthday, but president and co-founder Julian Goetz said it was also a tribute to King’s close friend Thich Nhat Hanh, a peace activist and Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk who followed teachings of meditation.
When listening to King, it is “hard not to be inspired,” Goetz explained. Goetz, the owner of the couch, brought it from his house to campus early Wednesday morning and set up the couch and speakers outside of Lecture Hall. From the speakers, tracks from King’s “In Search of Freedom” album played.
Goetz said that the club did not receive official permission before the event to set up the couch. The group began outside of Lecture Hall, but, shortly after, campus police relocated the group to the New University Union because of sound complaints. They continued the sit there throughout the day.
“We really let freedom ring,” Goetz said, speaking of the number of students who throughout the day stopped and joined the Sitting Club outside the New University Union.
“It was a very creative program,” said SA Executive Vice President Jared Kirschenbaum. “A great way for people who are just passing by to take a few seconds to remember the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.”
The club is planning further events for the remaining of the semester, including guest speakers and more couch sit-outs on campus.
“Show up if you want to feel serenity,” Arsenault claims.