On A Sensual Note expands policies to be more gender inclusive

‘We’re not just for male identifying people’

On A Sensual Note expands policies to be more gender inclusive

On a Sensual Note performs at Dime a Dozen's Valendimes concert this February.

In a departure from its history as an all-male group, On A Sensual Note, one of AU’s a cappella ensembles on campus, announced its new label as a “tenor 1, tenor 2, baritone, bass” (TT BB) singing group this year.

TT BB means that anyone who sings within that vocal range is welcome to audition for the group, Julien Hector, a junior in the School of International Service and the recruitment and inclusivity director for OASN, said.

The group was founded in 1996 and is one of American University’s oldest a cappella ensembles. OASN has historically been initially labeled as “all-male” but in an effort to open up the space to everyone, they decided to alter the language.

“I think it's really important that everyone knows that we are an inclusive group, that we're not just for male-identifying people. We're for everyone,” Aidan Palmer, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and the secretary of OASN, said. “As a new member, as a queer person, I really love this change. And I think that it'll do a lot of good.”

Emphasizing community building and cultivating a judgment-free zone is crucial, the group members say.

“My favorite part is the community and the people in the group. I would say if I’m having a stressful week, going to rehearsal and everything is a good time to wind down,” OASN Communications Director Carson Young, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “It’s a safe space and that’s what I love so much about the group.”

The effort to change how OASN labeled the group has been in the works for over a year, according to Hector, with the goal of being more inclusive. Hector explained that having what they called a “gender conversation” began his freshman year and OASN had already made the pivot to being an all-male and nonbinary group.

“We wanted to make sure that it was universal across all levels because those who identify as nonbinary could use she/they pronouns,” Hector said.

Palmer said that the group’s website and social media have been a great way to reach out to the extensive alumni network, with Hector adding that they plan to write letters “to make sure that all of the alumni were made aware of the changes.”

Having a more challenging song set by including more rap songs this semester is a goal for the group, said Hector. The members of OASN hope to cultivate a place for students on campus to sing and participate in the arts without discrimination, and expanding who can join the group is just one step, its members said.

“A lot of people don't really understand that a cappella is a pivotal part of the AU experience,” Young said. “I say even if you don’t sing, feel free to audition. Just for it. I’d say go out there and try something new and you may end up loving it.”

This article was edited by Bailey Hobbs, Kylie Bill and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Sophia Rocha and Stella Guzik.


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