Unity Walk Launches New Tradition for Worcester State

October 22, 2021
By: Maureen Stokes

A humid, rain-filled morning could not deter 400 students, faculty, and staff on September 9 from showing their support for the inaugural Unity Walk. The walk was spearheaded by Student Trustee and TWA Chair Anna Johnson, who saw a need to unify the campus following a year of remote class offerings, a global pandemic, restrictions on gatherings, and racial inequality.

“The goal was to create something that brought the Worcester State community together regardless of [one’s] background,” said Johnson, who was supported by a diverse committee that included President Maloney. “Seeing everyone respond so well let me know that the community is ready for change, and they are ready to be part of any effort to promote the change we need and want.”

Due to the weather, the walk was short, traversing from the Shaughnessy administration building to the Wellness Center, where participants were greeted by an African drum group comprising Worcester State students and led by Professor Jeremy Cohen, performing for the first time at the event. Visual and Performing Arts Visiting Professor and guitarist Carlos Odria performed an original piece of music for the occasion, and senior Tyanna McCaulsky  wrote and read a poem entitled “Unity.”

Speakers included Dr. Charlotte Haller, professor of history, who spoke on unity being a process and a practice, stating, “when we study the margins, we learn and understand more fully.” She also highlighted the pandemic, gender inequality, and power, specifically those who have it, how they use it, and what they are doing with it.

Student speaker Jacob Labonte spoke about feeling welcome and accepted as an LGBTQ+ student, but asserting that more work needs to be done. “I am committed to fighting back against hate through courage, strength, and perseverance, and look forward to what we can accomplish as a unified community.”

Dr. Hardeep Sidhu, assistant professor of English, talked about the connotation of unity: it is uplifting and respects and celebrates difference. Quoting from the book Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami, Sidhu also reminded participants that “co-existence should be an evolving state” and that it is an “active practice.”

Johnson kept emcee duties focused on the theme of unity and encouraged the crowd to wave their yellow rally towels in solidarity. When asked about her thoughts for the event next year, she’s optimistic. “I am grateful for the turnout. The committee worked so hard, and seeing all the people in attendance was so wholesome. Students and faculty mentioned they would appreciate the walk being a day-long event, and I also hope to have more student involvement.”

Inaugural Unity Walk committee members were Anna Johnson, Jacob Labonte, Jennifer Lima, and Charles Bray (students); Charlotte Haller and Hardeep Sidhu (faculty); Stacey Luster, Julie Kazarian, Laxmi Bissoondial, Catherine Sweeney, Maureen Stokes, Michael McKenna, and Kristie McNamara (staff); and President Maloney.


Unity by Tyanna McCaulsky ‘22

As we stroll along this journey called life
We are forced to embrace its attributes
While social injustice knocks on our doors
We are left with only one option
And it is to unite

Though we struggle to put up a fight
And many times we ask ourselves
Is this even right?
Brothers and sisters
Fathers and mothers
It is time for us to unite

What a beautiful way to describe our love for each other as a community
Despite the pandemonium of our reality
Let us gather as one in love, joy and tranquility

Though the present moment may seem difficult
Let us look beyond this present result
Step away from racial and gender discrimination
Let us build a bridge
With love as our equation
We are the new generation

What a beautiful way to describe our love for each other as a community

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