K-State Unity Walk introduces KSUnite, a new community-wide program

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State University is taking action to become a more inclusive, community-minded place. 

On Tuesday, bells rang at 1 p.m. to start the K-State Unity Walk to Anderson Hall. This introduced KSUnite, a community-wide program to reaffirm values of the K-State family.

This comes after some unsettling incidents in Manhattan. The most recent came as a man put racist graffiti on his own car, letting others believe he was the victim of a threat.

University President Richard Myers talked about unity, asking all K-State students and staff what they want their community and futures to look like. He said their goal is to prepare students to be leaders in a diverse world.

"What we need to acknowledge is there is anger in our community," said Myers. 

Those words hit home for senior Michelle Briggs.

"I do believe it's a family here at K-State, but I don’t think it’s taken into context of what family really means," said Briggs.

Briggs is referencing a racist Snapchat in black face from last year.

"I think that was the start of it," said Briggs.

He also said the most offensive thing he'd seen were white supremacy posters hanging on university property in September.

It's incidents like those that spurred the Unity Walk and KSUnite, with speakers urging students to respect each other's differences because they are all part of the KSU family.

"Look at the person next to you. If they look different than you, they're still part of your family, and you have to treat them that way," said Darrell Reese, president of the KSU Black Student Union.

Reese said he was sad, but that he has not lost faith.

"Do not forget who you are. Do not forget your history and where you come from. Do not forget what you have sacrificed to be here," said Reese, who urged students to graduate.

Community members also joined students and faculty, saying a K-State issue is a Manhattan issue, too.

"We know you can’t unring a bell. Some of the things that were said, whether true or not, it kind of put a ding on the university, on Manhattan," said Charlotte Schwartz, who graduated from KSU and met her husband there.

Schwartz said they were there to support the university and students moving forward in a positive way.

That's something the university said it looks forward to as it searches for donors for a new multicultural center.

"I think that would be incredible. There is a big multicultural presence on campus. They should be represented equally like everyone else is represented," said sophomore Darien Stokes.
 
At this time university officials are unsure if KSUnite will be an ongoing program, but there is potential for that to happen.

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