Maurice Cooley, director of the Center for African American Students’ Programs, said the event was created to give all Marshall students the opportunity to come together for the purpose of celebrating their unity, being part of the same “family,” and recognizing their individual differences.
“We all rejoice and celebrate being a part of the Marshall family,” Cooley said. “I don’t know of any other university where students have as much pride and exhilaration about their university as Marshall University students. We recognize that with the massive amount of students and the large number of organizations, we are all part of the same family, but we have never come together to celebrate together. We’ve never celebrated as a family.”
That’s the goal – to celebrate as a family – of Cooley and the Center for African American Students’ Programs, the Student Government Association, Student Affairs, Greek Affairs, the athletic department and Residence Services, all of which are sponsoring the event.
“We want to increase and instill more pride in who we are,” Cooley said. “We are all Marshall.”
The Unity Walk Celebration begins at 6 p.m. at or near the Memorial Student Center plaza. Faculty and students who are not affiliated with any organization will meet on the plaza. Students from organizations will meet in groups in a line possibly extending from Buskirk Field to Old Main to Drinko Library to Corbly Hall. Cooley is expecting more than 500 students to participate.
A DJ on the plaza will “crank up,” Cooley said, the song “We Are Family,” which will be the cue for the student organizations/teams to begin walking simultaneously toward the plaza, where they will meet up with the other students. Many will be carrying banners, Cooley said, and each group will have its own chant.
“They’ll arrive here on the plaza and we will have celebratory music,” Cooley said. Each group will have a designated speaker, who will talk for 30 seconds. The students will then be treated to food and socialize on the plaza.
Cooley said all student organizations, including every athletic team, are expected to be represented. Faculty and staff are invited to participate, as are Marshall alumni in the community.