What is Unity?:

Eastern students offer input and aspirations on this year’s theme.

By: Hannah Bonanducci

At freshman orientation this year, Eastern University presented a hopeful theme of “unity” for this school year. The theme took over the rock behind Walton (for those of you wondering what that unfinished “uni” was supposed to mean) to welcome students as they came on campus. However, despite passing it every day, I had to question if any of us really knew what unity means or what it should look like.

In an interview with Dr. Jackie Irving, she stressed the importance of unity, especially with such a large and diverse incoming class and the social impact COVID has had on us.

“When I heard the theme of ‘unity’ I was really excited and wanted to present that to our new students,” Dr. Irving said. “In the light of such a diverse class with different backgrounds, it seems to be a perfect reminder as students learn to live in a new community with so many ways of life combined.”

Sophomore Joshua Cruz, who helped create the unity theme, said, “With how society is today, we as a community want to make sure that everyone knows that they belong here, that everyone is equal, and that everyone has something that makes them special in their own way!”

The theme of unity seems to be a perfect one to help bring Eastern students together. However, what should that look like? I asked around to see what students really want to see come from this theme.

Hannah Garcia, freshman, said, “Unity to me means bringing a community together, whether it’s in service or just in general fellowship. It’s not just about bringing people together but being one team and really welcoming every individual in whatever situation. I really hope here at Eastern they can show unity everywhere, specifically in classes, group projects, and events.”

Lindsay Murphy, freshman, said, “For me, to be united is to have respect. Without respecting one another in any environment, you cannot be united. This year, I will meet many new people from different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and so on. I hope that in every situation and environment we can respect each other despite our differences.”

Damilola Akinboro, freshman, said, “To me, unity means loyalty and people coming together to face a situation. Even when you’re celebrating something and people come together as one, that’s unity. At Eastern, I hope to see people supporting each other and hopefully feeling like one big school family. As corny as it can sound, unity is very important, especially during this time in our lives as we are figuring out who we want to be and what our futures hold.”

Valentina Aquino, freshman, said, “I think unity happens when you share a common goal with people. Regardless of background or the type of person, unity can happen if there is one common passion. That’s the beautiful thing about it. I hope at Eastern that unity can be found as we all strive to achieve a goal together. If it’s making this school environment safer, more loving, or more Jesus-like, I think there are many things good things we can strive for as a student body.”

Alex Colby, freshman, said, “Unity is more than people agreeing on an issue – it is the recognition of the gravity of an issue and the intentional work to bring about change. Being a Christian, unity also means affirming the presence of God in every single person that I meet. Therefore, unity is the gathering behind an issue and working to resolve it that way the divinity of each person may be illumined in the fullest light. At Eastern this year, I hope to see this as radical striving towards justice and love.”

Leah Laut, sophomore, said, “I think unity means a community where everyone is seen as equals and treats each other with respect. I’d hope that at Eastern not just the students show each other that kind of kindness but also the professors and staff see us all the same too.”

Joshua Ball, sophomore, said, “I don’t know if unity can be defined by words, because it is more actions that matter. Unity is coming together in times of need. Unity does not need to be after tragedy. It is relevant in everyday life. Unity can be block parties, coming together as one for the greater good and showing we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Ella Smoker, sophomore, said, “I think unity means a selfless desire to help another person. Unity is about laying down your own preferences so that you can seek to understand those around you. At Eastern, I hope that the incoming class will carry on the tradition of building inclusive communities that have no borders.”

Amber Eaton, senior, said, “Unity to me means that everyone can respect one another’s views and values and not let it cause division between one another. We are all different and have different opinions on things. But as Christians, we need to love one another and continue to honor God in everything we do. I would like to see unity at Eastern by different ethnic and social groups coming together and holding events to learn about one another.”

While there may be varying views of what unity exactly means, it seems that Eastern University students are looking forward to a year of working together to tackle big tasks and questions. As you’re involved on campus this year, take a moment to think about what unity means to you and how you hope to be a part of it.

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