Are the words just not coming out right? Do you freeze up when it comes time to talk in front of people? If so, then Speakeasies may be just the thing.So what exactly is speakeasies? “(Speakeasies) is for anyone interested in speech communication or the betterment of their vocal skills,” said Speakeasies President Marquita Burke.Burke also feels that the organization has undergone some changes since last year.”Our focus is quite a bit different now than it was last year,” said Burke. “We are going to be more activity based instead of being socially based. Speakeasies kind of died last year because the people who ran it all graduated, and they had no passion for helping students. We are trying to change the course of the group and become more involved on campus, and we plan to work with other student organizations.”Plans for the semester include poetry nights, drama or theater monologue nights and special guest speakers. However, Burke said that any big plans are “decided from the members and their own level of commitment.””I am very proud of my students this year,” said Dr. Mary Evelyn Collins, Speakeasies adviser. “All of the changes that are taking place are student initiated, I haven’t told them to do anything. In the past, Speakeasies has always had its heart in assisting students and helping to improve communication skills, but the that purpose is now more focused because the students are more focused.”The organization’s origins are found “somewhere in the early ’90s,” said Collins. “Dr. Terry Thibodeaux was trying to improve the speaking skills of the students and wanted a group that focused on better communication skills through a human communication organization.” Collins, who has been the full sponsor since 1998, also said that Speakeasies is now “more career oriented with more of an emphasis on learning and preparing students for the real world. In every job that you have you are going to have to communicate with people, and we are here to help prepare students for that.”As in past years, a large emphasis is being placed on fundraising in an attempt to take students to the Southern States Communication Association Honors Conference, being held the first weekend of April in Tampa, Fla. “I always encourage students to submit papers,” said Collins. Students who submit their work have a chance at being one of four chosen to present at the conference. “It is a real honor to be chosen to present.”Expected fund raisers this year are a Mardi Gras Dance, raffles and a candle sale to raise money for the cost of air fare and hotel accommodations.In addition, Collins also said that the group tries to socially conscious with various service acts such as collecting food for the Good Shepherd Mission, selling books and writing letters to America’s troops fighting in the Middle East.Students wishing to become involved in Speakeasies should contact Collins at 294-1970, or by email at [email protected] The first meeting of the year will take place Thursday, September 25 at four p.m. in room 326 of the Dan Rather Communications Building.