Diversity is unique to every person. It makes up the different talents, aspirations, experiences and physical traits of an individual, but it can also be used as a driving force that brings people together. Char Luton, Mercyhurst Activities Council Chair, and the Mercyhurst Multicultural Activities Council (MAC) have decided to dedicate the week of Feb. 19-23 to celebrating diversity at Mercyhurst through Unity Week, themed “I AM POWER.”
“Diversity means something different to everyone,” said Luton. “For me, it means embracing who you are and embracing other people and other cultures, really allowing the blend of who you are and who someone else is to create that blend of a whole other culture.”
The “I AM” campaign and “Unity Day” were established during the 2016-2017 school year as a way to start the conversation about understanding individual diversities among the Mercyhurst community. The campaign was very successful in highlighting and celebrating different cultures, beliefs and backgrounds.
This year, the MAC team wanted to build off of this awareness of what makes us different to how it can be used to make the community more united through “I AM POWER.”
“I AM POWER” seeks to highlight unity and connects diversity to the certain privileges people have with their own diversity and how they can help those who are less privileged.
“This year, we want people to really grasp the concept with more substance,” said Luton. “We don’t want Unity Day to just be a one-day activity, but let it be a part of people’s everyday actions and incorporate that into every single thing that they do.”
Each day of Unity Week will have a different theme and activity for students to participate in.
The kick off event is a campus-wide “Black Out” where students are encouraged to wear black as an outward sign of solidarity and unity with those of every race and cultural background.
On Tuesday, SAC/MAC will be hosting a “Power Walk” in the Student Union Great Room from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Also known as a “Privilege Walk,” the Power Walk is an activity designed to help people from different backgrounds visualize their societal privileges and how those privileges affect others. A series of statements will be read and the participants will take a step backwards or forwards, depending on how they respond to the statement.
Wednesday there will be a Resource Meet and Greet in the Student Union Great Room that will feature resources from the Mercyhurst Community such as Judy Smith, Ph.D., executive director of Wellness (Mercyhurst Counseling Center), Brad McGarry, director of Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst, Cariel Lewis, assistant director of Residence Life and Student Conduct (Upperclassmen), and Megan McKenna, director of Residence Life and Student Conduct.
“This is a great event for students to gain access to different resources they might need if they feel that their voices aren’t being heard and they are struggling with that,” said Vince Marrazzo, Mercyhurst Student Government treasurer.
Eddie Moore, Ph.D., will be coming to speak on Feb. 22 in Zurn 114. He will be presenting on “Diversity, Privilege, Leadership: Are we Making Progress in the 21st Century?” to explore these issues in America today and how each citizen is called to create change.
Feb. 23 will bring Unity Week to a close with “Unity Day” in the Student Union Great Room.
Students from a variety of clubs such as Black Students for Unity (BSU), Sexuality And Gender Acceptance (SAGA), Mercyhurst International Students Organization (MISO), Mercyhurst Equality Of Women (MEOW), Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Students of Caribbean Association (SOCA) will be represented with booths.
Some clubs will be selling T-shirts, giving out food or hosting interactive activities, allowing students to learn about and experience the diversity that brings the Mercyhurst community together.
“We all have different privileges associated with our diversity and backgrounds, so why don’t we use them help one another,” said Luton. “You really do have the ability to help someone who has never been able to do the things you’ve done, and realizing that is an extremely empowering thing.”