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Campus comes together for Unity

April 21, 2011

The 18th annual Unity in the Community event happened April 20 to celebrate diversity in the River Falls community.

As a Co-Diversity Programmer, student Nikki Shonoiki’s role in the planning of the event was to find students to perform during Unity in the Community, to sit on the planning committee and assist with other projects happening during the event.

“I’m excited about how different Unity is going to be this year,” Shonoiki said. “In the past Student Life took on most of the planning for Unity, but this year it is truly a campus-wide event, and it will be interesting to see how successful having events on three days instead of one will be.”

This year Unity in the Community consisted of three days of campus-wide programs, starting with the Poverty Simulation on April 18.

On April 19 there was a showing of the movie Color Blind, which is a recording of the Anti-Racist and Social Justice activist Tim Wise’s lecture. The Sustainable Art Installation, where art students displayed art pieces they have been working on throughout the semester.

On Wednesday April 20, there was an all day campus-wide celebration, and there were events that started at 8am and ended at 7pm. Some of those events included Bike for Uganda, which is a fundraiser to get school supplies for a school in Uganda that UWRF has been helping to raise funds for over 5 years. UWRF has raised over $16,000 toward Academy of Jomba, which opened on February 21, 2011.

Other events included stage performances from student organizations like Native American Council and Dance Theater, as well as professional performances from Jasiri X and The Women’s Drum Circle from Minneapolis.

During the Unity in the Community event on Wednesday, Student Life and Residence Life had a RSO desk set up in the University Center and sold cranes to raise money to help Japan after the natural disaster. Between Student Life and Res Life they made 1062 cranes and made $318 and are looking to sell the rest of the cranes during Finals Fest.

“Between the two offices we came up with the decision to make 1000 cranes based off of the story of if you make a thousand cranes you get to make a wish,” said Community Service Programmer Courtney Haas. “Our wish was that we would be able to sell enough paper cranes to be able to help Japan out after the natural disaster.”

On Wednesday other campus wide events included, the Backpack for Kids Program volunteer project, A Social Justice Series Lecture by Cyndi Kernahan on how social identities influence job and economic prospects. And a Talking Circle held with international students and students who have gone on Study Abroad trips about what they have learned about those experiences.

Through out Unity that stated on Monday, a project called United We Can took place and it’s a competition that involves different teams collecting donated food items and built a sculpture out of them the, and had them displayed and voted on by the general public.

The sculptures could win varies prizes and once the contest was done on Wednesday all of the food was donated to the Back Pack for Kids program.

There was also food that was offered through a campus wide picnic that was provided through Sodexo as well as an Egg Roll Sale sponsored by Asian American Student Association.

“The goal of Unity in the Community is to show the wide array of diversity we have on campus and within River Falls in order to celebrate our differences and promote a more inclusive community,” Shonoiki said.

Every year Unity in the Community isn’t just about the campus community, there is also a celebration that takes place in the River Falls community, this year it will be at Veterans Park or the River Falls library if it rains, and it featured a number of events including performances, samples of free food and more.

The River Falls Community Gospel Choir, the UWRF BCU Gospel Choir, and members form the Minnesota Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America form the Twin Cities came together to perform in the basement of the River Falls Public Library.

Sociocultural Coordinator, Ashley Olson provided contact between students, faculty and staff to create a comprehensive marketing plan and feel to Unity.

With other campus representatives she collaborated with the River Falls Diversity Committee to gain involvement of the local community in both on campus activities and the local community celebration.

“I am just really excited to see so many offices offering additional programming throughout the week to compliment our already strong annual tradition of our campus wide celebration,” Olson said.