SGA diversity affairs committee and FOCUS, a student group committed to

diversity issues, will sponsor a coffee talk today on the controversial

Confederate flag issue.

The talk, titled "Hate or Heritage," will focus on recent issues

surrounding the flag and its place in Southern culture.

"It's basically just a discussion of what the Confederate flag means to

you," said Becky Sparks, SGA Student Services director. "College is a

marketplace of ideas. If you don't talk about ideas, you don't come away

with anything."

The event is being held as part of diversity awareness week and will be led

by George White, UT political science and African American studies

professor. White is a familiar face to the coffee talks, having led

discussions before. SGA chose him to revisit the talks because he does a

good job getting conversations started among students, Sparks said.

Although the topic has been chosen in advance, Sparks stressed that the

coffee talk is an open forum. SGA wants to guide the discussion, but is

happy if students want to lead it to a topic they didn't begin with.

Diversity Affairs began coffee talk meetings a few years ago to provoke

students to begin talking about diversity, something that was needed on

campus. Talking about tough issues over coffee, in a relaxed setting that

isn't threatening, helps the discussion along, she added.

The talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. in University Center, room 223,

featuring coffee and cookies.