Call for Unity

April 05, 2010

 

In a "Call for Unity," Dr. John L. Ewing, Jr., president of Mount Union College, outlined several steps the College will take to encourage unity throughout the campus, at a special convocation which drew about 1,300 members of the campus community Tuesday.

The convocation was called in response to recent world events as well as incidents of racism that have occurred on campus this Fall. Ewing prefaced his remarks by calling Tuesday "an historic event" and "a time for unity that will make Mount Union a better, safer and more accepting place."

Ewing was joined on the dais by Sy Green, vice-chair of the Mount Union College Board of Trustees, Dr. Martin Horning, professor of economics and chair of the Diversity Initiatives Steering Committee, Melanie McMaster, president of Student Senate, Trista Pennington, president of the Black Student Union, and Victoria Steward, a national expert on diversity and conflict resolution.

Ewing outlined several initiatives that will be put in place immediately. "These initiatives will seek to accomplish three things: to make students feel safe; to apply the judicial process in the Student Handbook to all; and to educate the entire campus," Ewing said. The initiatives he outlined include the formation of an acts of intolerance protocol, the establishment of an acts of intolerance team that will support victims of intolerance, and the availability of acts of intolerance forms that can be used to report specific violations regarding race, disability, gender, religious belief, national or ethnic origin or sexual orientation. He added that several programs geared toward diversity issues will continue to be developed in the weeks ahead.

A specific incident that heightened sensibilities on the campus recently occurred when a racial epithet was discovered on a bulletin board in one of the residence halls. The incident sparked discussions throughout the campus and led to dialogue that indicated that racism was not isolated, according to Ewing. 

Green pointed to his experiences at Mount Union as a student in the early 1960s as enlightening for him as well as the white students who learned from him. "As people, we all need to get to know a lot more about each other," Green said. "We don't like to talk about racism but we need to. If nothing else, I hope our meeting today will prompt discussion that will result in a better understanding for all."

Horning, a 1971 Mount Union graduate, traced his experiences as a student during a time when two events were running side by side @ the War in Vietnam as well as the Civil Rights Movement. Both had a profound impact on his life and the lives of Mount Union students of that time. Citing similarities between what was happening on the campus in the late 1960s and now, Horning asked: "where do we go from here? In the midst of national events, the face of racism raised its ugly head," Horning said. He urged that the community come together as "brothers and sisters."

McMaster said she is optimistic about the future and that the campus can learn from such incidents. "We need a few committed individuals to help make a change," she said. "I leave you not with a solution but a challenge @ openness and respect for others not like yourself."

Green pointed to his experiences at Mount Union as a student in the early 1960s as enlightening for him as well as the white students who learned from him. "As people, we all need to get to know a lot more about each other," Green said. "We don't like to talk about racism but we need to. If nothing else, I hope our meeting today will prompt discussion that will result in a better understanding for all."

Horning, a 1971 Mount Union graduate, traced his experiences as a student during a time when two events were running side by side @ the War in Vietnam as well as the Civil Rights Movement. Both had a profound impact on his life and the lives of Mount Union students of that time. Citing similarities between what was happening on the campus in the late 1960s and now, Horning asked: "where do we go from here? In the midst of national events, the face of racism raised its ugly head," Horning said. He urged that the community come together as "brothers and sisters."

McMaster said she is optimistic about the future and that the campus can learn from such incidents. "We need a few committed individuals to help make a change," she said. "I leave you not with a solution but a challenge @ openness and respect for others not like yourself."

Green pointed to his experiences at Mount Union as a student in the early 1960s as enlightening for him as well as the white students who learned from him. "As people, we all need to get to know a lot more about each other," Green said. "We don't like to talk about racism but we need to. If nothing else, I hope our meeting today will prompt discussion that will result in a better understanding for all."

Horning, a 1971 Mount Union graduate, traced his experiences as a student during a time when two events were running side by side @ the War in Vietnam as well as the Civil Rights Movement. Both had a profound impact on his life and the lives of Mount Union students of that time. Citing similarities between what was happening on the campus in the late 1960s and now, Horning asked: "where do we go from here? In the midst of national events, the face of racism raised its ugly head," Horning said. He urged that the community come together as "brothers and sisters."

McMaster said she is optimistic about the future and that the campus can learn from such incidents. "We need a few committed individuals to help make a change," she said. "I leave you not with a solution but a challenge @ openness and respect for others not like yourself."

Pennington said that the campus has been wounded and now must be healed. "We must use critical thinking and be open with our dialogue," she said. She challenged the audience to learn about other cultures and to learn about people whose skin color is different from their own.

Steward encouraged individuals to develop their own action plans that include reflection on what they would do to eliminate racism. "Prejudice is a learned behavior," Steward said. "And diversity is when you can question the beliefs you have about people who are different from yourselves."

For more information, contact the Office of Public Relations at (330) 823-6063

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