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Silent social: New Belgium hosts CSU ASL Club

Silent+social%3A+New+Belgium+hosts+CSU+ASL+Club
Collegian | Preston Box

New Belgium Brewing opened its doors to the Colorado State University American Sign Language Club for a unique and silent social experience. The atmosphere was that of a typical social bar setting but with complete silence. 

Attendees communicated by signing across the room, creating a visual spectacle of inclusivity. The air was filled with happiness as people engaged in silent conversations while sipping on their favorite New Belgium beers Thursday, Jan. 18.

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New Belgium Brewing, headquartered in Fort Collins, is a national brewing company known for its commitment to creating inviting spaces for all. Sydney Milner, the employee who organized the event, shared her passion for the deaf community and ASL. A CSU graduate with a degree in communications, linguistics and culture, Milner currently holds the title of liquid center lead at New Belgium in Fort Collins.

“This is a place for you to be exactly as you are,” Milner said. “With the inclusivity of ASL and the deaf community, I feel that everyone will get the opportunity to be seen as they are. This is something I want to keep doing, and (I) hope that more people will feel inclined to join in the future.”

Milner, who previously belonged to the ASL Club during her time at CSU, shared her dedication to spreading awareness and inclusivity of ASL in the Fort Collins region.

“I want to promote a safe and inviting space for all: the deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing,” Milner said.

Milner learned ASL during college and gained experience volunteering at a deaf camp run by the Trillium Deaf Program based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Hanna Stovall, the social outreach officer of the ASL Club at CSU, is a senior majoring in human development and family studies and minoring in ASL. 

“Our collaboration with New Belgium felt natural because breweries are places designed to sit and chill and hang out with friends over a nice beer, so now we can chat (silently) over a beer,” Stovall said. “(It) can’t get much better than that.”

Stovall said the connection to a CSU alum at New Belgium was beneficial to the ASL Club.

“It was really nice because Sydney has been to our socials before, so she knows the expectations of completely voice-off silent chats,” Stovall said. “She even wrote a sign so others knew, which was fantastic. I think our biggest goals for this event were to integrate more into the broader FoCo community, not just immediately around campus.”

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Charlie Knott attended the social and is a first-year graduate student studying biomedical sciences at CSU.

“I was born deaf, so I learned (ASL) through my mom originally and kept learning it throughout my childhood,” Knott said. “ASL is my first language. I learned about the club through my friend Drew, who started learning ASL.”

For those interested in joining the CSU ASL Club, updates, meeting times and social events can be found on their Instagram and Facebook pages. Meetings are held 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Lory Student Center. 

The ASL Club’s collaboration with New Belgium resonated with the club’s purpose.

“I think what is unique about our club and its structure is that its sole purpose is to connect and have fun,” Stovall said. “There is no requirement to join. We just ask that you are respectful, open-minded and willing to learn.”

Reach Kloe Brill at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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