Hundreds of students and faculty gathered around the Albion rock on Sept. 17 to show their support for a more unified campus. The Unity Rally, organized by professors Cliff Harris, Carrie Walling and Brad Chase, was meant to strengthen mutual respect and acceptance on campus.
“Part of getting an education at Albion College is about learning to become a better human being, a more compassionate and loving person and a respectful member of this community,” said Walling.
Before the rally began, over 70 people had already signed to reaffirm the Albion College mission and diversity statement, that “condemns all forms of discrimination and harassment,” and works towards a “truly inclusive and multicultural campus environment.” The faculty speeches lasted for about 20 minutes, and afterwards members of the audience were invited to sign their support, listen to an acoustic guitar player and have refreshments.
An important aspect of the rally was to let students know they have faculty support. During Harris’s speech, he asked those in the audience who were faculty to raise their hands. About half of the crowd raised their hands.
“Faculty have to speak out or else our silence is speaking out,” said Harris. He welcomes students to “come see us, come talk to us” if they have questions or want their voice to be heard.
President Mauri Ditzler also spoke at the rally and expressed the importance of listening to students and asking them what can be done immediately to support unity on campus. According to Walling, “It means treating people with compassion and respect, recognizing our equal dignity. It means not being indifferent to the pain and suffering that others have experienced.”
Professor Chase spoke on the idea that a lack of empathy is at the root of many mistakes and problems. “The daily development of empathy can be challenging. It takes work,” he said. Even though it’s not easy, his advice to students and faculty was to work harder to understand people’s perspective.
One voice is capable of making a difference. The Unity Rally showed it’s not just one voice, but many, who are in support of a more accepting Albion College that embraces students from all walks of life.
Photo by Rebecca Barry