The Marist Unity Project Launches
Students and Faculty Come Together to Promote Inclusiveness
In the past few weeks, student leaders at Marist have been making efforts to promote unity on campus. Officially, they call this effort “the Marist Unity Project.” This name is an umbrella title for a series of events that have already begun to unite individual members of the Marist community. Some of Marist’s cultural clubs organized a storytelling event, for students to express themselves and support one another. Additional events like this are in the works, but most recently, the Unity Project came to form in the student center during Wednesday’s activity hour.
Student leaders felt that these efforts were necessary as a response to recent trends in current events. “There has been a lot of stuff in the media--a lot of hate crimes that have been going on,” said Darriel McBride, one of the students behind the project.
“What we wanted to do with this effort was to create a space where students can come and write encouraging words to different groups of people on campus and just kind of promote this energy where we can all come together and just be respectful of one another and not perpetuate hate,” explained McBride.
That day, student organizers from the Unity Project set up tables, bulletin boards and decorations in the main hallway of the student center. The event was open to any member of the Marist community and people passing through were encouraged to participate in the festivities by composing a positive message to their peers.
“We want to #stopthehate and #beginthehealing,” a sign at the front of the hallway announced. “Stop by for a moment to write a supportive message to the Marist community.”
At the start of the afternoon, blank white billboards lined the hallway to be decorated by those that attended the unity event. By the end of the day, students had filled these billboards with colorful post-it notes, containing inspirational quotes and their own personal messages of support.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” someone had written, quoting John F. Kennedy.
Another student wrote encouraging words, directly to Marist. “Practice the Golden Rule and make Marist an accepting and strong community...begin the healing,” the message read.
“Where there is unity there is always victory,” another note read, in summation of the themes of the event.
This unity event served to enhance lines of communication between those within the Marist community. As another part of the event, and this overarching goal, students put together a video, holding signs and explaining their messages. Eventually, this video will play on the television screens in the student center.
“We want to promote a positive message through campus, and come together as one to say we all stand for solidarity,” said Dylan Lopez, one of the other student organizers, in a recent article on the Marist Media Hub. “With the project, we want to start a progressive conversation to be carried into the future.”
Those at the event were also united by a specific decor, which was uniformly purple. Purple tablecloths draped over tables containing purple bowls with varieties of purple candies. Even the balloons were tied together in purple clusters with purple ribbon. “The event was an effort to demonstrate solidarity between students on campus for marginalized groups on campus,” explained McBride. “The purple was to show solidarity.”
Different sizes of safety pins were strewn across this table, as part of the nationwide movement for “safe spaces.” People across the country have been wearing safety pins on their clothes to mark themselves as peaceful, accepting people for those that might feel unsafe or uneasy around strangers. Students at the unity event joined this movement by taking a pin and wearing it promote safety on campus.
“We want to create a safe place for people to voice their opinions and not be judged for it,” Dylan Lopez explained of their efforts.
Marist College President David Yellen expressed his approval of Marist student’s initiatives towards unity. “I applaud the vast majority of our students for modeling exactly the type of open dialogue that will foster greater communication and understanding between people across all ideological perspectives,” he stated for the Marist Media Hub.
Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18
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