From Jan. 30 to Feb. 3 the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a week filled with activities and informative videos in an effort to promote awareness of different groups and unite the community due to the recent adoption of the new slogan “We Are One.”
The SGA posted signs across the Commons bridge with messages such as “diverse” and “we are Patriots.” Students walking from and to their classes had the opportunity to view these messages and reflect. “We wanted everyone to learn to accept each other despite our differences and that we’re all not different,” senior SGA member Gabriele Rodriguez said.
On the morning announcements, the SGA played a video called “The Privilege Test.” A diverse group of students were told a series of scenarios. If they related to this scenario they were told to take steps backward or forward. At the end of the video, those standing closer to the camera were considered to be more privileged than their counterparts standing in the background. In addition, the SGA created a large banner and displayed it across the Commons walls. On the banner it said “All Hands in for Equality.” Students were encouraged to trace their hands on the banner and sign their names therefore pledging to make a change. “I thought it was inspiring because it brings everyone together although there are a lot of different races and types of people,” junior Rifaa Qadri said.
There weren’t only positive reactions to Unity Week. One specific poster did create backlash as some students felt that the sign “tolerant men” was putting down the male gender while uplifting the other gender. Other students said that unity week made them feel awkward or uncomfortable.
However, the message of unity week was to create a conversation and ultimately strengthen the community. According to a Facebook post by senior SGA president Alisha Dhallan, the SGA values the opinions of the few who disagreed and understands their concerns. The SGA apologizes to the few who were offended or misunderstood but assures them that unity week was a project that needed to happen.
Despite the negative feedback received from unity week, students have found the project to be uplifting. “I thought the message was very powerful and showed how prevalent discrimination is at our school,” junior Alyssa Robinson said.