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Annual Unity in the Community event celebrates diversity

April 20, 2012

UW-River Falls will have its 19th annual Unity in the Community event throughout the day on campus and in the evening downtown to promote diversity on April 25.

The River Falls Diversity Committee and the UWRF Office of Student Life do most of the event’s planning and organizing according to Outreach Program Manager Kristen Allen. Ashley Olson is the Sociocultural Coordinator of Student Life and said the event first started in response to an incident of hate and over the years has evolved into a community wide celebration about the diversity within our community.

“This event is important as it has become a campus tradition, something that our campus and community looks forward to each spring,” Olson said.

Events going on throughout the day will consist of a second hand sale with money raised donated to the Kinni Backpack Program, a campus- wide picnic, sushi-mein bowl and tables by different groups and organizations. There will be student performances, artwork and the evening event downtown, according to the UWRF website. The Black Student Union worked with the Diversity Organization Coalition and Peer Empowerment and Community Education to produce a photography project that will contribute to displays at the event. The photography project is a response to the Trayvon Martin and Bo Morrison cases, according to BSU president Scott Bowman.

This is Olson’s third year on campus helping coordinate the event and she said the entire campus community is welcome to get involved with the event and historically and currently many offices and individuals across campus contribute to the success of this event.

“Our major stage performance will by music by the two-time Grammy nominated, bilingual jam-band Locos Por Juana,” Olson said.

UWRF works with the community to plan these events and historically has always been a daytime celebration on campus and an evening celebration in the River Falls community.

Allen is a member of the River Falls Diversity Committee and said the evening event is designed particularly to attract families.

“We try to schedule it at a time and location that is convenient. We also have a number of local business sponsors and we believe that having the event down town shows our support for them and the downtown area,” Allen said.

The all-campus celebration will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University Center and the evening celebration will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at River Falls Veterans’ Park or at the rain site at the River Falls Public Library.

Groups and organizations are coming together on this day to celebrate differences and notice similarities and come together in solidarity, said Bowman.

“Unity is important because it brings people together and celebrates the diversity among us all. Diversity broadly spoken, diverse interests, identities, cultures, thoughts, etc. It’s all about everyone coming together in River Falls,” Bowman said.