May 19, 2024

Oct. 31 marked many things: the end of a long and hectic month, Halloween and lastly the end of Unity Week. Unity Week is sponsored by Concerned Black Students (CBS). The Unity Week Reflection panel was in place in order for people to comment on the events of the week and to have an open discussion on issues concerning unity on campus.
The panel was comprised of Lori Askeland (English), Julius Bailey (Philosophy), Brooke Wagner (Sociology), Nona Moskowitz (Sociology) and the Provost. Though the panel was fully stocked the rest of Ness Auditorium was sparsely filled to put it gently. A total of seven people made up the audience , and of the seven audience members four were members of CBS.
Despite the poor attendance, interesting conversation still ensued. Moskowitz notes that “Unity Week is important because it reminds us that issues of intolerance and inequality continue to plague our world, Wittenberg included. For those who do not face prejudice or discrimination, it is easy to forget that it exists.”
Each panelist agreed that though important to talk about issues concerning unity that it proves difficult to do. Bailey commented that “Everyone isn’t equipped or interested [enough] in order to engage.” In discussions, Wagner very bravely admitted that when she originally started teaching she was afraid to talk about race because it made her uncomfortable but has since learned the importance to “[willingly] embrace uncomfortable situations.”
Brian Richardson, AC for Firestine and Myers and also the CBS advisor raised the issue of retention rates of minority students. CBS President, Ashley Milliner, asked “How do we engage those who wish to disengage?”
Another interesting topic that emerged was how minorities get crap for speaking up against minority issues. To address this point Bailey stressed the importance of building coalitions with non-minority groups so that the minority voice is heard and well received via the channel of a non-minority. He then acknowledged that though this is not ideal and though he might not like it, it is reality.
Lastly the panelists were asked whether or not Unity Week was effective.  The consensus seemed to be that the effectiveness of something is a very hard thing to measure and gauge. Bailey had this to say, “The term effective calls for immediate assessment of a quantitative experience. The question presupposes that there is an actual measurable to be evaluated. If there is, it is unknowable to anyone but the soul/spirit of the participant.  In my interpretation, this Week is rather a qualitative experience whose measurability isn’t reducible to either a materialist cost/benefit analysis, or number of participants who marched/attended the sessions, wrote on the wall etc…  The true account of this Week is parallel with an investigation into the daily lived experiences of those in our community.” Moskowitz very insightfully said that “Without greater community participation, it’s hard to say that the goals of Unity Week have been met.”

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