A feast of friendship

Marshall celebrates diversity over breakfast buffet


Rebecca Turnbull

Faculty and staff make their way down the buffet during the Diversity Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Monday in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center.

A Marshall University dean reminded students, faculty and staff Monday at the 16th annual Diversity Breakfast to cherish differences between each other in order to cultivate new perspectives.

Don Van Horn, dean of Marshall’s college of arts and media said the Diversity Breakfast should be seen as an opportunity for the Marshall community to gain more incentive in upholding ideals of equality.

“Individually and collectively, we must take responsibility and illustrate leadership for inclusiveness,” Van Horn said. “We must not only mirror attributes of human rights, we have to actively practice them.”

Van Horn said he was compelled to share his insights at the breakfast due to the disturbing dialogue that has been developing against incorporating diversity in the United States over recent years.

Van Horn cited measures taken to ban non-Christian immigrants, continued opposition to same-sex marriage and reckless military annihilation as examples of issues hampering the United States’ progress towards increasing diversity.

Associate vice president of intercultural affairs, Maurice Cooley said such issues could be better addressed if people of different cultures were given the opportunity to meet with one another in a safe setting.

Cooley said the Diversity Breakfast offers a welcoming environment for people of different cultures on Marshall’s campus to interact with each other.

“I was thinking that if everyone in the globe that’s living today could all come together and have breakfast with one another every single morning for the rest of our living days, we would probably discover that everyone is really OK with everyone,” Cooley said. “We’re thankful that we’re here this morning to have breakfast with one another. This is one special place in the world.”

Ekaterina Gutsan, second-year graduate healthcare administration student said the breakfast gives Marshall students, faculty and staff the opportunity to meet many international students whose college experiences have been improved by Marshall’s diverse campus.

“Based on what’s happening around the world and how everything is changing and how people get aggressive, I think this is a great event to kind of erase those borders between people to be together in peace,” Gutsan said. “If we have these type of events, you always see we have lots of [international] people coming here.”

Imani Spradley, senior broadcast journalism major delivered closing remarks for the breakfast and said her professors and peers helped her to adjust to her college environment as a woman of color by encouraging her to stay involved and work hard.

Spradley said she is proud to go to a university where diversity is not a prevailing issue.

President Jerry Gilbert said he wants others to be able to experience the support Marshall students have been able to receive during their pursuit of higher education.

Gilbert said diversifying Marshall’s recruitment is one of his goals for his presidency.

“I want every student that comes on this campus to feel like they are welcomed, honored and respected here at Marshall,” Gilbert said. “We will learn together, we will talk together. And we may have different opinions, but that will add to the richness of the experience.”

The theme of this year’s Diversity Breakfast was “We Are The World.” Over 350 students, faculty and staff were in attendance.

Rebecca Turnbull can be contacted at [email protected].