Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor
Solidarity Week occurs Sept. 24-29 as a way for students to acknowledge the differences in their own and other students’ identities on Berry’s campus. Junior Diamond Newsome created this event hoping to instill change in how students view their differing demographics throughout campus.
This year, the week is filled with events to encourage students to acknowledge the differing identities of students on campus. The week begins on Monday with an event titled “Iden-tie-tee”. Students can come out to Krannert Lawn to tie-dye a solidarity T-shirt that they can wear on Saturday during the football game, which is dedicated as a “Tie-Dye Out” to end Solidarity Week. Newsome explained that each color students choose to tie-dye with represents a different demographic. She encourages students to use the symbolic colors, that they feel comfortable sharing with others as they dye their shirts.
Tuesday’s events will also occur on the lawn outside of Krannert, and will focus on teaching about how other groups on campus have contributed to Solidarity Week and why they believe that this week is important. On Tuesday night, following SGA, there will be a “Solidarity Circle” that will happen from 8 to 9 p.m. Students are encouraged to attend and share what this week means to them and hear from other speakers about the week’s importance.
On Wednesday night, there will be a dinner discussion entitled “Flippin’ Out” which will occur in the Spruill ballroom. The event is open to the first 100 people who RSVP.
A Berry alumnus will speak Thursday night on how to “Turn Your Back on Hate”. On Friday afternoon from 11 to 1 p.m., Link on the Lawn will happen, which will allow students to fill out a paper link for what they stand for on campus. These links will be displayed in the Krannert lobby afterwards.
Though it is different from last year’s event, Newsome hopes that this year’s event will bring students together and stop the spread of hate over different identities. Her idea for Solidarity Week came from last year’s Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va.
“I saw many college campuses around the country making statements about the attack and I wanted Berry to be a part of that,” Newsome said. “The thing about a Neo-Nazi rally is that it’s all about hatred, and it’s threatening to more than one group of people.”
President Stephen R. Briggs also noticed the need for change, especially in how people viewed each other and interacted with each other on their differences.
“In a time when our society is fractured on a number of issues, we have to have a way of being able to speak respectfully, meaningfully, and constructively with people, even when we disagree,” Briggs said. “Even if you, in the end, come away still disagreeing, you at least understand the nature of the difference and respect the person nonetheless.”
Having a need for change that fuels action is what Newsome focused on when creating this event. Her main goal for this week is to unite everyone so that they do not feel left out based on their differences.
“I wanted students, faculty and staff at Berry to know that they are welcomed here, regardless of their race, religions, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political preference or nationality,” she said.
Junior Gabby Sola has been working with Newsome since last year and is also excited for the new events, hoping that they bring the freshmen together who may feel uneasy about this topic and their role at Berry.
“I hope that it’s mostly welcoming, especially for freshmen who are a month into college and may feel left out and not comfortable,” Sola said. “I hope that it’s reassurance that you are wanted here and that there is a space for you.”
In the future, Newsome hopes that Solidarity Week will continue. Newsome isn’t sure exactly who will run the event after she graduates, but she wishes to train new students and maybe even create a committee to continue her work, and grow the event each year.
Overall, Solidarity Week about unity and coming together as a community to celebrate the differences each student has. Newsome is thankful for the support she has received throughout the entire process.
“I’m really excited about Solidarity Week this year because last year it was just a result of me being upset about something,” she said. “This year I’m able to see it from a different perspective and I’m really happy about how much the Berry community has supported me through it.”