‘Unity Day’ gives prominence to idea of community

Sponsored by Campus Cultural Competence and Equity Committee, the peer mentors on campus facilitated Unity Day on Friday in WIN-150.

The event emphasized self-empowerment and community strength.

“Unity Day is a campus event designed to enhance cultural identity, unity, tolerance, with a focus on acceptance and self-awareness,” said Interim Dean of Institutional Effectiveness Sabrina Sencil. “The event celebrates our differences while disabling insecurities.”

With the purpose of establishing a stronger community amongst individuals on campus, the event started as a vision by Sahl Kazi, one of the peer mentors.

“I wanted this to be an event where students are given a chance to talk about things they usually don’t get to talk about in classroom settings,” said Kazi. “Things like the Stephon Clark case and the New Zealand shooting are weighing heavy on people and I wanted this to be the designated time to express our feelings towards issues like these.”

Although there was an attempt to improve campus community outreach in last year’s “Unity in the Community” event, this was the school’s first actual “Unity Day,” said Interim Supervisor of Student Life and Leadership Oscar Mendoza Plascencia.

Along with games like “toss n’ talk” that help attendees find out what they shared in common with each other, Director of Paradise Valley Community College’s Diversity Inc. Rowdy Duncan was a guest speaker and gave a speech on “WE>ME.”

“Understanding that we should be self-critical first really makes a big difference in understanding what we need to know today,” said Duncan.

In addition to a guest speaker, President Edward Bush spoke at the event, as well.

“We are living in a time in which our differences are actually being exploited and being used as a weapon to divide us,” Bush said. “We all don’t have a common story but the unity or commonality within that comes to a mutual understanding and appreciation of the differences.”

The event ultimately extended to students of different ethnic backgrounds, interests, majors and several more.

“I love the event,” said 27-year-old computer science major Freddy Mande. “We always hear the word community but we don’t see it and this is a huge step towards trying to bring that diversity to the campus.”