April always begins with April Fool’s Day, but the many other aspects of the month are no joke. Across the country, people will observe National Child Abuse Awareness Month, National Autism Awareness Month and National Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Other, more lighthearted matters are highlighted during this month, such as Amateur Radio Month, Lawn and Garden Month and National Poetry Month. April is a time for spring weather and Easter Sundays; it’s when major league baseball gets into full swing, and it’s when we celebrate our earth each April 22.
But for Marshall University, April means Unity Month.
Marshall is open to all; our university promotes and encourages diversity. So, when was the last time we reflected on such a wonderful opportunity to go to a college that welcomes everyone and dedicates an entire month to unifying its campus? We are incredibly fortunate to have President Jerry Gilbert, as he strives to do so much for our Marshall family.
According to official Unity Month descriptions, it “seeks to initiate new conversations at Marshall to foster an inclusive campus and celebrate our diversity. In the spirit of the Marshall University Creed, Unity Month events strive to promote an open, pluralistic and socially conscious community.”
During this month’s calendar of events, which are in part sponsored by the President’s Commission on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, attendees at events will be able to experience an interfaith dialogue, a bone marrow drive and a diversity paint and sip. These are only a few of the opportunities to connect with those who are different from us this Unity Month.
However, once April ends and May begins, bringing all its glorious yet so-far-away promises of summer with it, the spirit of Unity Month remains on this campus. We probably do not even need a Unity Month because its goals and ideals are found within every student, staff and faculty member on campus year round. Marshall has a friendly and welcoming environment. Though we may not be the largest or most populated university in the state or the country, we have created a home here. A home that is accepting of everyone and loves unconditionally. And after students walk across the stage at graduation, even though many of them will never walk in the shadow of the Memorial Fountain again, that spirit of unity will always remain. The love and support stays with them throughout their lifelong journeys out of Marshall’s home and into the wide world beyond waiting for them.
So, this Unity Month, let us attend all the events that we are able to. Let us understand one another and our backgrounds a little more and be patient when encountering differences. And let us regard our fellow sons and daughters of Marshall as part of one unique, beautiful family.