Holy Cross Celebrates Unity Week In the Face of Divisiveness

Caroline Ahearn ‘20

Chief News Editor

After several months of difficult divisiveness prompting unprecedented responses from across the Holy Cross community, including an alleged hate crime against an LGBTQ+ student that lead to the inaugural ENGAGE Summit, as well as sexual misconduct allegations against now several professors sparking an historic sit-in led by the student body outside the office of Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., the College of the Holy Cross held its annual Unity Week from March 14-24.

The Week was organized by the Student Government Association’s Co-Officers of Diversity, Mithra Salmassi ‘19 and Manuel Trejo ‘19, who have been working since the summer of 2018 with the Office of Student Involvement, the Office of Multicultural Education, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and other Multicultural Student Organizations to plan programs and speakers.

Unity Week began on Thursday, March 14 with a lecture by author Harriet Washington, who spoke to a full Rehm Library about the history of medical and environmental racism in the United States. On Friday, March 15, the Men’s Involvement Coalition held a Women’s Appreciation Banquet, honoring Jimena Collingwood, Assistant Director of Study Abroad, Kayla Lee, Special Assistant to the Athletic Director/Student Athlete Development Coordinator, Mariel Aleman, Office Coordinator for the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, and Isabelle Jenkins, Associate Director of the Donelan Office of Community Based Learning. In the Hub, the Men of Color Athletes (MOCA) screened “Men of Color Athletes Presents: The Hub” on Monday, March 18 in which they discussed their experiences at Holy Cross, and on Wednesday, March 20, Developing and Education South-Asian Ideologies (DESI) and Pinoys of Worcester (POW) held a discussion about colorism in Asia. From Tuesday, March 19 through Thursday, March 21, Feminist Forum held its annual “Why I Need Feminism” campaign at the Hogan lobby tables.

One of the most prominent events of Unity Week every year is the Keynote Address. This year’s speaker was DeRay McKesson, who spoke to a packed Hogan Ballroom as he delivered his speech entitled “Activism in the Age of Social Media: How to Use Your Platform to Incite Change.” McKesson, a civil rights activist named one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2015 and as one of the 30 Most Influential People On the Internet by Time Magazine in 2016, discussed agitated activism to create systemic change. This resonated with the Holy Cross community, and caused many of them to reflect on the many forms of agitated activism that have emerged on campus this year, such as the “Sexual Assault on the Hill” Instagram account.

Unity Week will conclude this weekend with “Yappie: The (Re)Model Minority,” sponsored by ASIA and CAB on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hogan Ballroom, the 7th Annual First-Generation College Student Summit, sponsored by HCFIRST and the MOCA Game Night on Saturday, March 23, and the R.O.O.T.S. Showcase, “Karibbean Kingdom,” on Sunday, March 24 at 4:30 p.m. in the Hogan Ballroom.
Speaking of the importance of Unity Week at Holy Cross, especially this year, SGA Co-President Meredith Coolidge ‘19 shared, “I believe it’s important to devote time to highlight and recenter our commitments to one another. This year has been a difficult one, but I do think that the students on our campus are more engaged than in previous years, which is encouraging. I think the ENGAGE Summit was helpful in disrupting our day-to-day routine and recommitting ourselves to each other and the larger community. My hope would be that Unity Week allows all HC community members to recommit to holding ourselves at a higher standard and recognizing the injustices and privilege we face everyday.  Unity Week is not just this week; while we do not have specific programming every single week surrounding diversity and equity, we do have daily responsibilities and commitments to being better, more thoughtful, and more engaged people in relation to one another.”

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