Shippensburg University students Lance Hines-Butts and Skylar Walder have been working since before the semester started to bring the Diversity Week Initiative to campus.
Hines-Butts worked to have his dream of fostering diversity on campus become reality last year. With support from the president and the university, Hines-Butts worked with fellow student Lucas Everidge to host SU’s first ever Diversity Week in the fall of 2020.
The impact of Diversity Week last year was strong, Hines-Butts said. Students have come up to him in the months after sharing their experiences and excitement, he said. Although introduced to the world in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Diversity Week has gained traction and grown since last fall.
The full week of programing began on Monday, Oct. 4, and will go through Saturday, Oct. 9, according to the Diversity Week website.
It kicked off with the “Head to the Sky — Women’s Empowerment Talk” held Monday afternoon in Orndorff Theatre at the Ceddia Union Building. Hines-Butts envisions every future Diversity Week starting with this event, he said.
“Women need to be represented on this campus and embraced. And in the world not just in this campus. That event can grow and be something bigger. That’s a highlight for me, I’m very excited about that one,” Hines-Butts said.
One of the returning events will be “A Quilt to Cover Us All” by the Multicultural Student Association’s ACT (Ask, Communicate. Teach Tolerance) committee.
The quilt will be unveiled at the annual ACT rally on Oct. 8. Various campus groups and organizations create and contribute a piece of the quilt, which is then sown together and displayed on campus.
There will be new programing this year like the Underground Railroad lecture and presentation from the Columbia Historic Preservation Society, Hines-Butts said. On Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium, there will be an “interactive presentation” focusing on the Colombia Pennsylvania’s Free African American society, according to the website.
Hines-Butts and Walder are working to ensure that Diversity Week continues even after they graduate. “We want to build a foundation. Since Lance will be graduating and in a couple years I will be graduating, this is the critical time to build the foundation. The last thing we need is a dissolving of it and for it to be forgotten,” Walder said. “It’s a big milestone we’ve made on this campus. Our job after this week is over is to make sure we can build that structure.”
After this year’s celebration, they plan on creating a formal committee to plan and maintain Diversity Week, Walder said.
While Hines-Butts was previously on the Student Government Association and Walder is currently on SGA, the Diversity Week Initiative is not an SGA event or creation. Hines-Butts explained that the initiative is through the university, and like the homecoming committee will also be done through the university.
The future Diversity Week Committee will include students, faculty and staff on it, Walder said. Many of the partners and campus groups they are currently working with will also be involved with the committee, according to Hines-Butts.
Some of the groups and organizations that have helped work on Diversity Week this year are the Multicultural Student Association, Women’s Center, Pride Center, John L. Grove College of Business, the office of community engagement, the office of diversity, equity and inclusion, the office of alumni relations and the president’s office.
Walder and Hines-Butts are looking to get more people involved in the Diversity Week Initiative. Students and other campus community members looking to get involved with Diversity Week can contact Manuel Ruiz, the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Shippensburg University.
For a complete list of programming and information about Diversity Week, visit www.ship.edu/about/diversity/diversity-week/.