“Knowledge is Power” is this year’s Unity Week theme. This annual celebration is dedicated to highlighting the similarities shared between the diverse populations across the Mercyhurst campus. As most know, the activities for Unity Week began Feb. 18 and will continue through Feb. 22.
“The annual Unity Day tradition has been going on for almost 10 years now at Mercyhurst University. This day was created to celebrate our entire campus community by coming together as one and sharing our traditions, culture and cuisine with one another,” Tyler Brentley, Multicultural and Inclusion Coordinator, said.
As the years of celebration grew, Unity Day turned into a week full of festivities. This started in 2014, when Mercyhurst previously had a Cultural Awareness Week.
Last year was the first to incorporate a theme for the weeklong celebration, “I Am Power,” which focused on using personal privileges as empowering tools in everyday activities for the community.
“Last year’s Unity Week received an amazing amount of support and appreciation from all levels of the campus community, and it became more than just an event — it was a positive movement. This is why we began and will continue the annual Unity Week celebration,” Brentley said.
This year’s activities were organized by Justin Hawkins, senior Sports Management major and Multicultural Activities Council chair.
He has scheduled a busy week with the help of fellow MAC/SAC programmers and supervisor Brentley.
“I am most excited for three things – Tyler’s soul food luncheon, the Face Card activity on Wednesday and most of all our keynote speaker, Joshua Fredenburg. He will bring his expertise to campus and loves talking with students,” Hawkins said.
The week started out with a campuswide blackout where students rocked a symbol of unity by dressing in all black. Those students in black were recipients of a “Knowledge is Power” shirt and laptop sticker.
As Tuesday rolled in, campus shifted to a Soul Food Luncheon. This meal brought people back in time to experience black history and culture with delicious food, beautiful music and interactive trivia.
Next up is an interactive and informative activity called Face Card. This activity encourages students to view those around them with a new perspective. The event will be held Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Student Union. This activity dives into topics such as privilege and perception when it comes to a person’s experiences and background.
As for Feb. 21, campus will welcome nationally acclaimed speaker Fredenburg, who is an author and the creator of a leadership development curriculum. He is coming to campus to speak about “How to Create a Winning Culture Within Your Workplace.” This will take place at 8 p.m. in the Mercy Heritage Room and is open to everyone.
Closing out the week is left up to the student programmers of MAC/SAC. Under the guidance of Hawkins, “Unity Day” will be held in the Student Union Great Room Feb. 22 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Campus clubs and organizations will come together to share a wealth of information and conduct interactive stations geared toward their mission. It is hoped that these RSCOs can bring games, cultural food and a night full of inclusivity that will lead to enlightening discussions.
“Unity Week is something very important to me and I’m glad to have had the chance to help plan it,” Hawkins said.
Brentley said “it is an honor to be able to celebrate the differences and uniqueness that we all possess which make us who we are, while still appreciating the similarities we share.”