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Students discuss race issues




Nearly 51 years after Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the nation with his dream of a future with equality, students are still working to make his dream a reality.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs — along with a coalition of
student organizations — organized the ninth-annual Unity Summit at Alumni Hall.

The event attracted more than 300 participants Monday to engage in round-table discussions regarding racism, discrimination and advocacy.

“We’re just trying to promote a better and more welcoming environment,” informatics student Clark Mullen said.

Since 2005, the Unity Summit has sought to bring together students from different backgrounds to address issues affecting minority groups across campus.

Trained student facilitators guided the discussions to maintain open and cordial communication.

“The summit provides a great opportunity for the participants to discuss what can be done individually and collectively to make our environment more inclusive,” DEMA vice president James Wimbush said. “This is one of many opportunities for people to work together to create solutions.”

A committee of students and staff members collaborated with various organizations across campus to organize the event.

And although the Unity Summit is a product of a collaborative effort by the University and the City of Bloomington, Eric Love — director of the Office of Diversity Education — said he views students as the core of making the project a success.

“Students are really the engine behind it all,” he said.

Among the activities offered throughout the event, participants engaged in a small-scale version of the “Write Your Mind” initiative, which set up posters across campus with questions to gauge attitudes among minority students.

“Sometimes we’re empowered when we know people care about our issues and we’re not out there by ourselves,” Love said. “In a campus as large as IU, sometimes people of color and marginalized groups can feel very alone.”

Racial segregation was outlawed in 1964.

Love said he views lingering discrimination and lack of diversity as a societal work in progress.

“We feel that all the issues we’re dealing with are societal issues,” he said. “They’re not black issues, they’re not white issues, they’re not gay issues. We’re all engaged. We’re all involved in this.”

In commemoration of King’s call to non-violence, participants also took a pledge to “40 Days of Peace,” calling those who pledged to respond to incendiary comments with understanding.

Through unity and peace, Love said he hopes that the Unity Summit will elicit future cooperation among minority populations to fight for the common interest of equality.

“Any marginalized group working together is the only way we’re going to change the status quo and make a more fair and just society that King was pushing for,” he said.

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