All members of the campus and Fort Collins community are encouraged to come together at 3 p.m. Thursday, March 29, to make a statement in support of CSU’s community principles and against acts of hate and intimidation that have taken place on campus this academic year.
CSUnite is a walk and community gathering to demonstrate that Rams Take Care of Rams and CSU is No Place for Hate. It will begin at Newton’s Corner – the large sculpture at the intersection of Pitkin and Center, just south of the Behavioral Sciences Building – with opening remarks, followed by a short solidarity walk to the Lory Student Center Plaza and a brief program.
“CSUnite is a chance for our community to stand together in support of what we value and against hate – with the ultimate goal of inspiring learning and action for real change,” said CSU President Tony Frank.
In a message to the entire campus community earlier this month, Frank explained that the University has chosen to be transparent about a number of incidents on campus, such as the appearance of racist and sexist graffiti and white supremacist groups distributing literature and attempting to recruit students. But letting the campus know such incidents are occurring isn’t enough, he said.
“Through CSUnite, we are acknowledging that while we cannot prevent such acts, we can be united and we can refuse to be silent in response,” Frank wrote. “We all have a role, an opportunity, and responsibility to confront acts of hate and discriminatory bias when they occur.
“In participating in this walk and gathering together, we reach across whatever divides us and accept our responsibility to uphold one another, to be alongside those who have been personally harmed or targeted by acts of hate and bias, and to acknowledge the harm such acts cause to all of us as members of this community,” he added. “What affects one of us, affects all of us.”
Highlighting the Principles of Community
CSU, as an institution of higher learning, is guided by the principles of inclusion, integrity, respect, service and social justice – the Principles of Community endorsed by the President’s Cabinet in 2015. These are the principles CSUnite is based on, according to Blanche Hughes, vice president for student affairs, who will be speaking at the event. CSUnite is not a political event, she noted. People of all viewpoints are encouraged to stand up and help make the statement that CSU is No Place for Hate.
“These issues transcend politics and impact all of us,” Hughes said. “This event is a way for us to come together to say we don’t tolerate hate on our campus. Everyone can get behind the Principles of Community to show that love is stronger than hate and that Rams take care of Rams.”
CSUnite was originated by the students of the President’s Multicultural Student Advisory Committee and President Frank and has been organized with ASCSU, the President’s office, and divisions and departments all across campus.
While the University will not be closed during the CSUnite walk, faculty have the option of canceling classes or accompanying their students to the event, and will be provided a range of materials to use in class discussions if they cannot attend and wish to do so. Staff are strongly encouraged to close offices, if possible, so they and student employees can attend. Candidates running for ASCSU office have agreed to suspend campaigning during CSUnite, to help preserve the non-political nature of the event.
Making it a priority
“I’ve asked everyone in Student Affairs to make this a priority,” Hughes said. “Take a look at your appointments for March 29, and clear a couple of hours that afternoon. It’s so important that we all take a pause from our daily routines to think about and talk about these issues. If we can’t talk about it, we can’t do anything about it.”
Vice President for Engagement Lou Swanson also sent a message encouraging CSU Extension, Continuing Education/CSU Online, Office of Community and Economic Development, the Colorado Water Institute, and other staff in his division to attend in person, if feasible, and in spirit, if they were unable to commute to campus.
“President Frank has shared with the CSU family his deep commitment to the message of the CSUnite event coming up on March 29, as our campus community joins to show solidarity in rejecting hate,” he wrote. “I share his commitment to the importance of coming together for CSUnite, particularly in the face of recent hate messages found on our campus, and reported increases of such incidents at campuses across the country.”
After the program on the LSC plaza, resources and tools will be available for those who want to learn more about actions they can take to educate themselves, communicate more effectively across individual differences, and support a more inclusive, safe and welcoming CSU experience for all people.
“CSUnite isn’t the end of the conversation, just a beginning,” Hughes said. “Everyone has a part in making a change, in ways that can be big or small, and a responsibility to confront acts of hate and bias when and where they occur.”
“This event is just one small effort in a long journey we must undertake together, as members of this University community,” he said. “It is a recognition of the serious issues we face, the need to mitigate and condemn these actions, and that it’s past time for us to step up and do better together.”