There was an air of appreciation during this year’s ACT Rally.
ACT, standing for Ask, Communicate and Teach Tolerance, is a campaign at Shippensburg University that seeks to stimulate healthy conversations about race and confront racial injustice. This year’s ACT rally also coincided with Diversity Week, an event that seeks to represent Shippensburg University’s mantra of “One Campus, Many Cultures.”
The focal point of this event was the 100-panel quilt put together by different student groups and organizations from the university. Outside Gilbert Hall, students and faculty alike gathered to appreciate the quilt that had been sewn together by the many student groups and organizations at Shippensburg University.
The ACT rally had a large variety of speakers this year, including SU President, Charles Patterson; Kapri Brown, Assistant to the Director in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; Lance Hines-Butts, Shippensburg University student; Manuel Ruiz, Director for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity; and Diane Jefferson, Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. Each speaker had their own remarks on Diversity Week and what it meant to them.
Brown began the event with an opening statement about the quilt on display. “This quilt represents the unity at Shippensburg we have here,” Brown said.
Next to speak was the Patterson. Patterson had insights and appreciation about Diversity Week. He also had specific remarks about the quilt that was the star of the event.
“This quilt wraps itself around this family that I’ve become a part of,” Patterson said.
Patterson gave advice on how students can become more connected to others on campus.
“We have to have uncomfortable conversations, but good conversations,” Patterson said. He said it best when he called the quilt a “mosaic of diversity.”
After the president, Lance Hines-Butts took the stage. Hines-Butts was the student who created diversity week on campus. At the event, he recalled the amount of work it took to get Diversity Week off the ground and make it what it is today. He spoke about the long hours and huge amounts of work required to get Diversity Week to work.
“Diversity Week isn’t an idea, it’s a vision,” Hines-Butts said.
At the height of the rally is when Hines-Butts asked the crowd to form a circle and hold hands with someone they did not know. He used this circle as an example to demonstrate the diversity on campus.
The final speaker was Diane L. Jefferson, the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs on campus.
Her remarks, though brief, were powerful. Jefferson rallied the crowd, saying, “We will always be stronger together.” The most powerful moment of the entire event was when Jefferson asked the crowd to sing “Ella’s Song” with her.
She sang it by herself at first, but as the crowd began to learn the lyrics, everyone began to sing along and clap with the beat of the song. This moment, occurring before the end of the rally, served to unite the crowd with a feeling of common purpose.
After the rally, attendees were invited to have refreshments and tour Gilbert Hall, the home of the Multicultural Student Association.