Unity Walk brings Marshall community together, begins homecoming activities

Marshall University had its seventh annual Unity Walk Monday, Oct. 15 to kick off the homecoming week festivities. The walk started and ended at the Memorial Student Center, and students from multiple organizations participated in the walk and celebrated their differences.

Paige Reger, sophomore communications major, participated in the walk with her Delta Zeta sisters. She said the Unity Walk is important to improving relationships on campus, and the sorority she belongs to is a big proponent of celebrating diversity.

“It’s important that we get to meet each other and come together in this manner,” Reger said. “We all get to meet and understand one another, and that’s important to grow as a person.”

Students talked and got to know one another as they walked the path through the center of campus and past the Rec Center. Half the students went around Third Avenue, half went around Fifth Avenue, and the group reconvened on the sidewalk in front of the entrance of Old Main.

Andy Hermansdorfer, Marshall’s director of student involvement, spoke about the importance of the Unity Walk as he walked with students.

“Our Unity Walk gives students an opportunity to celebrate each other,” Hermansdorfer said. “It lets them celebrate diversity, but it also lets them celebrate inclusion. It gives students an opportunity to meet people they haven’t met before, and it gives the community an opportunity to see what goes on on campus.”

Homecoming court attendants, student government, Marshall athletic teams and other organizations came together in the name of celebrating their backgrounds and meeting new people. Despite the rain, students had smiles on their faces as they walked.

The Unity Walk aimed to bring students of all organizations, backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations and cultures together. Rayshawn Eastman, the dean of student development, said he was excited to see the turnout of students ready to do just that.

“Diversity is really crucial to the student environment,” Eastman said. “You get a lot of people from different backgrounds interacting and learning from one another. The ability to interact with different people and learn from them is vital as students advance in their careers. This is where that interaction happens, right on a college campus.”

Maurice Cooley, associate vice president of Marshall’s Office of Intercultural Affairs, was largely responsible for organizing the gathering.

“We hope you look forward to getting to know all of your new brothers and sisters,” Cooley said during the opening announcements. “You can chat, sing, make noise and whatever you’d like to do. Just enjoy your time together.”

Cameron Bright, senior psychology major, was walking with Marshall Collegiate 4-H.

“The Unity Walk is so important, because it allows us all to come together to celebrate our differences, but also realize our similarities as a community,” Bright said.

After the brief walk around campus, students went inside the Memorial Student Center for more celebration.

“I think the Unity Walk is great,” Lila Beattie, first-year nursing major, said. “We all get to come together as a campus, and that’s one of the reasons why Marshall is so great.”

Hannah Graham can be contacted at [email protected]