The 30th annual Unity Walk, with the theme of “Thirty Years of Activism,” will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 20 starting at noon in Duffy Plaza and will have interactive exhibits.
The bells located in Bell Tower will toll at noon for 8 minutes and 46 seconds for a period of silent reflection. This is the amount of time victim racial violence George Floyd was pinned to the ground by a police officer, according to the New York Times.
After a few remarks from President Laura Casamento, two groups of 600 members will travel from Duffy Plaza to the Academic Quad and then loop back to the Wilcox Center. Outside the Wilcox Center attendees will sign the unity oath, which has been in place for several years.
“I think a lot of people think of the Unity Walk as something we’ve been doing for the last couple years,” said Meghan Jordan, Project and Programming Manager for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “It has a long history on campus.”
In 1989, a group of students were targeted by racial violence and a march was created in protest. Utica College hosted the first official walk in 1991, calling it “Unity March: A Celebration of Diversity,” according to the History of the Utica College Diversity Committee webpage.
Over the past few weeks, the DEI committee in collaboration with Facilities, IITS and the Copy Center, have placed several signs throughout the campus. Some of these signs were present at the 2020 Unity Walk, but there will be additional content on this year’s signs.
Signs located around Strebel Student Center will have QR codes linking to articles or videos about diverse topics. The goal of these signs is to allow students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn more about these topics at their own pace and in private, Jordan said.
Several offices and organizations on campus have agreed to put together exhibits, create matching shirts for their cause or cheer on walkers during the march. One of these organizations is the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, who is creating pamphlets that contain suicide and life hotlines, information on how to report discrimination in hospitals, how to look for companies that are safe for LGBT+ workers, and some local resources.
The signs will include the names of victims of racial violence and police brutality, as well as the names of soldiers who have died in the Afghanistan conflict.
“What I want people to get out of the walk is just to walk for something that is important to you,” Jordan said. “Share that cause with other people. This is an important moment for our campus to come together as an annual tradition to remind ourselves that we progress, learn and change together.”
The extended campuses of Utica College, such as the Florida and Syracuse locations, are encouraged to participate in the Unity Walk in their own way and share photos with the hashtag: #UCUnityWalk2021. Time slots are available on the Utica College website.