By Shelby Levan
On Aug. 29, KU held its third annual Unity Day on campus. Students heard from a variety of speakers ranging from community members to students and administrators.
“As we begin a new year as a community, we must renew our commitment to our values,” said President Hawkinson as he kicked off the event by welcoming the crowd with a promise. “Our university rejects all forms of racism, bigotry and discrimination.”
President Hawkinson also introduced and highlighted the theme of the Golden Bear Rule: belonging, empathy, advocacy and respect.
The first emotional speaker was Reverend Chris DeForest who opened his message to the students by clearly declaring his preferred pronouns as he/him/his. He also confessed that he “would not have known what that meant just two years ago, if [he] had not been taught this sign of belonging, empathy, advocacy and respect by [his] transgender son, Beau.” Reverend DeForest also invited students to find unity in Trinity Lutheran Church of Kutztown.
Students also heard from Tracy Alcee, treasurer of Women Achieving the Vision of Excellence (WAVE), who recognized how intimidating beginning college can be for everyone, including herself.
“I also came to Kutztown with one fear: the fear of feeling like I don’t belong. I’m here to tell you that I was wrong,” Alcee said of starting at KU when she was a freshman. Her tip to anyone feeling like they do not belong is to find a passion and pursue it.
For Braden Hudak, Student Government Board president, unity is a special topic. Hudak opened his message with the remark, “This campus is made up of individuals from all different walks of life, but we all stand together at the end of every day with one mission: to prepare students to meet lifelong intellectual, ethical, social and career challenges or to be the students preparing to meet lifelong intellectual, ethical, social and career challenges.”
Hudak also highlighted that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and an event such as that helped pave the way to create an accepting place where he could come out to the LGBTQ+ community just a few years ago. He also made the announcement that KU will be hosting its first PrideFest on the DMZ on Sept. 12.
The Community Link Fair also accompanied Unity Day. Students were able to walk amongst different tables set up on the lawn to learn more about different organizations and businesses in Kutztown. There were tables set up for Pop’s Malt Shoppe, Turkey Hill, Life’s Choices, Kutztown Fire Co., Kutztown Area Transport Service Ambulance, the National Guard, Santander Bank, East Penn Manufacturing and many others.
Pairing these two events together helped to provide an example of how the Kutztown community can be unified, despite differences.