Student-run organization TEDxOhioStateUnviersity held its annual event Saturday. Speakers such as Caroline Bennett (pictured) spoke on a variety of topics under this year’s theme “Hide or Seek.” Credit: Jillian Fountain | Lantern Reporter

The classic childhood game of hide-and-seek took on a new spin on the Mershon Auditorium stage Saturday.

Student-run organization TEDxOhioStateUnviersity showcased its annual TED-talk-style event over the weekend. Thirteen speakers from the Ohio State community presented to a crowd of more than 1,000 and spoke on a variety of topics centered around this year’s theme: “Hide or Seek”  

This year, the organization wanted to shift the theme’s tone from being “harsh,” as in years past, to a more light-hearted vibe, said Samantha Lechner, a fourth-year in public affairs and strategic communications and the organization’s public relations director.

“We wanted to do something this year that was really playful and fun,” Lechner said. “We wanted people to get back in a nostalgia age.”

Though the goal was for an overall playful tone, the speakers were allowed to interpret “Hide or Seek” in whatever way they wanted. Some, like Malia Womack, took a more serious approach.

Womack, who is pursuing a joint MA/PhD degree in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and Latin American studies, presented a talk on how she believes Title IX’s mandatory reporting rule may silence victims of gender-based violence. Onstage, she expressed how the legislation that aims to eliminate gender-based discrimination in education, may actually “re-victimize survivors.”

“The epidemic of gender-based violence is quite hidden in society,” Womack said. “So, rather than the playful hide-and-seek, my talk was about how this epidemic is hidden and how we can make it not hidden.”

Another speaker also tackled a topic she believed to be hidden from societal conversations: the black girl experience.

Closing the event Caroline Bennett, a graduate student in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, presented a talk, song and poetry piece aimed to empower black girls like herself. Her speech brought the crowd to its feet.

Bennett worked “Hide or Seek” into her performance in multiple ways; instructing the crowd to close its eyes, counting down from 10 and inviting the audience to participate in other games from her childhood, but she also had a deeper interpretation of the theme.

“[My talk] is like me saying to black girls ‘Ready or not here I come. I’m coming to identify with you. You can’t hide and there’s no reason to hide anymore because I see you,’” Bennett said.

In addition to Bennett and Womack, the TEDx stage showcased speakers well-versed in neuroscience, language rhetoric and even Dungeons and Dragons, just to name a few, as well as a performance from 3D Urban Dance. The diversity of this year’s event was an area of pride for Michael Watson, third-year in public affairs and speaker coach for TEDxOhioStateUniversity.

“[Hide or Seek] overall has a really well-rounded line up,” he said. “Everyone that speaks has their own little niche. They are exceptionally talented in their fields.”

This year’s lineup and theme struck a chord with some student attendees as well, like Bushra Ismail a graduate student in educational studies.

“I’ve been to TEDx events for the past couple of years,” Ismail said. “But I like the theme this year because I feel like it’s really relatable and understandable. It’s a lot of easier to understand, so I feel like I’ll remember this one for a long time.”