Utica College Community Unites for Unity Walk

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Source: Daniel Wells

Maggie Reid, Features Editor

Braving the heat and carrying signs, students, faculty and staff participated in the latest Walk a Mile for Unity event on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Last week’s Unity Walk was the second event of its kind, bringing the campus community together to start the fall semester with a spreading of positive messages of diversity and inclusion.

According to Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Alane Varga, the Unity Walk began after several incidents of racially-charged graffiti were discovered around campus almost two years ago, causing the campus to come together for broad sicussions on diversity at Utica College. These community conversations were what eventually inspired the Unity Walk.

Like last year, the walk took place during the first week of fall semester classes.

“It became a way to start the year off and confirm our commitment, not only to celebrate diversity, but to show how important it is to have different people in a community and to have all members feel as though this is their community, as well as learn from that community.”

Senior Kristen Rizzicone took part in the Unity Walk because she felt it was a way to promote positivity on campus.

“It’s important because it unites all of the UC campus for a good cause,” Rizzicone said. “All the sports teams, frats, sororities and other organizations on campus come together to create a sense of unity and togetherness.”

Senior Nicolas Azubuike has been coming to the Unity Walk since the beginning.

“I love coming to this event, ever since it started last year with the events that happened,” Azubuike said. “It’s important to come to these events because of issues that have happened, such as racial slurs and vandalism. Events like this are worth having and going to each time that they happen.”

Senior Sania Safdar, like Azubuike, believes this event has become even more important due to issues that have arose in the past.

“The Unity walk is an important event on campus because it celebrates the importance of diversity,” Safdar said. “It teaches us that we all need to accept each other despite our differences. This event is also important to send a message to the community and other schools that UC does not stand for hate, but rather love and acceptance.”

Walking in unity is important to Safdar because it shows how diverse UC is, as well as accepting of each other.

 “Coming from an immigrant family and being different, I have personally gone through events that at times made me feel unsafe,” Safdar said. “This event gives me the chance to make sure that we are educating each other on the differences and being able to make sure that others do not go through the same situations that I have. It helps me play my part on making UC a better community and family.”

A large amount of effort and time went into the conception of the Unity Walk.

“A lot of meetings, emails and collaboration [went into this event],” Sadfar said. “We had to plan for times, social media marketing, poster making events the night before, what jobs people had, times people had to have things ready by and much more. Overall, very stressful but a lot of fun.”

Luz Genao, also a senior, had similar ideas pertaining to the importance of this event.

“The Unity Walk is an important event to have on campus because it shows what the Utica College community stands for,” Genao said. “As a student here, I want to feel welcomed and accepted, and that’s what I felt when I took part in the walk.”

Genao’s favorite part of the walk was the planning process that took place before it.

“I involved myself with the diversity committee to help make change,” he said. “Throughout the summer, I was part of the meetings and the decisions being made by the committee. I enjoyed the fact that everyone listened to each other’s concerns, which showed me that my opinion and everyone’s opinions do matter here at UC.”


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