PULLMAN, Wash. — “Each of us must act to end violence and hatred,” Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins told more than 1,200 from the WSU community and Pullman who attended the university’s diversity celebration on the Pullman campus Thursday evening.
“Washington State University affirms the value of every person and celebrates the enrichment of our community through its diversity, including differences in race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, class, language and nationality,” the president said.
Rawlins pledged to take a stand:
“I want to be able to say to the rest of the world that there may be places where you cannot safely walk alone at night, but not this place.”
“There may be places where people of different races are not accepted and values, but not this place.”
“There may be places where those with different sexual orientations, or religions or abilities are not welcome, but not this place.”
“There may be places where you cannot advance according to your abilities because of your gender, or accent, or nationality, or heritage, but not this place.”
“There may be places where prejudice, ignorance and hate are accepted, but not this place.”
Milton Lang, special assistant to the president, said the event provided a forum for the community to come together and learn about resources and special programs available at the university this year.
“It’s time to take responsibility,” Lang told those at the program. “When you talk about WSU, you are talking about yourself. Together we can work miracles.”
Students, faculty, staff and community members signed more than 3,000 pledges at the event. More pledges were signed by others at WSU’s branch campuses. Visitors lined the Beasley Coliseum concourse where various clubs and organizations shared information about diversity efforts.
The celebration started with a reception, music and free food. A one-person play, “Faces of America,” detailing nine stories based on the lives and recollections of a diverse set of American voices, followed the program.
The Office of the President sponsored the celebration, part of a number of recommendations made by last year’s Council on Campus Climate. Rawlins appointed the 30-member council last fall to address concerns, including violence, racism, homophobia, and the recruitment and retention of faculty of color. Council members included 20 students, five faculty and five staff.