Annual weeklong event brings students, faculty, and staff together to promote tolerance.

Campus Celebrates Diversity During Unity Week

May 23, 2014

Brooklyn College students unite at the penthouse of the Student Center to discuss and celebrate campus diversity.

The Brooklyn College campus was abuzz with activities designed to promote fellowship and fun during the annual Unity Week program. The events, which include students, faculty, alumni, and staff, aims to utilize the diversity of the campus and the borough as an opportunity to bridge gaps, initiate teamwork, and open minds.

"Unity Week is both a challenge and an opportunity," says Vice President for Student Affairs Milga Morales. "It is a time for us to demonstrate our awareness of who we are, and that we wear our identities proudly. We accomplish this through respect, courtesy, conversations, and creating something beautiful on our campus."

This year's theme, "Bridging Cultures and Creating Connections," was at the core of all the activities, which included a forum on campus and community leadership, an intergenerational basketball tournament, a collaborative art project, and an awards dinner celebrating student achievement. 

As a precursor to Unity Week, 28 students took a college-sponsored trip earlier this semester. This Unity Retreat, organized by the Division of Student Affairs, took students from diverse backgrounds to Callicoon, a town in upstate New York, for exercises in team building. The goal of the retreat was to provide Brooklyn College students with a set of supplemental skills that not only make them better students, but also make them better citizens and candidates for the marketplace. This particular iteration of the retreat was the brainchild of Elliot Wasser '02 and financed primarily by Brooklyn College President Karen L. Gould.

"We wanted to expand our reach and go beyond the usual students, and really try to engage students all over the campus, especially those who never thought they might be interested in an endeavor like this one," says Moraima Cunningham, director of student engagement and judicial affairs. "The goal was to provide them with a concrete set of skills that they would be able to use inside and outside of the classroom."

The itinerary included a leadership session hosted by Lisette Nieves '92, the first of three Brooklyn College Rhodes Scholars; conflict resolution workshops; diversity training; team recreation; and grant writing workshops, where students created proposals for Unity Week themes and activities.

"To have Lisette Nieves teach a workshop, be exposed to her brilliance, speak with her after the workshop and tell her how much of an inspiration she's been to me is the most amazing thing in the world," says Gisely Colón-López, a senior in the Childhood Education Teacher (grades 1–6) Bilingual Education Extension Program. "And it's just part of what continues to be the blessing of being a student at Brooklyn College."

Brooklyn College is an innovative liberal arts institution with a history of more than 80 years of academic excellence. With approximately 17,000 students enrolled in over 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the humanities, social, behavioral and natural sciences, education, business and the arts, the college is renowned for its rigorous academics, diverse student body, award-winning faculty, and highly affordable tuition.  In 2011, Brooklyn College was ranked as one of the top colleges in the nation for diversity by Diverse magazine.

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