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Equity and Inclusion Summit set for March 28th

Equity and Inclusion Summit set for March 28th

Mar 15th , 2021

Midland University will host its second annual Equity and Inclusion Summit Sunday, March 28th from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Wikert Event Center. Angela Mercurio, a three-time Track and Field All-American at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will serve as guest speaker.

The theme of the 2021 Equity and Inclusion Summit is “United as Warriors,” - a fitting theme with everything that has happened since Midland’s inaugural Equity and Inclusion Summit in February of 2020. Less than a month later, the university announced it was transitioning to online teaching and learning due to COVID-19, and the remainder of the spring semester courses were held virtually.

“Our last time together as a university was the summit in 2020, so this is a bit of a full-circle moment for us,” Dr. Lawrence Chatters, Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, said. “Our country has been impacted significantly during this past year and we are so thankful to have not lost any students, faculty, or staff to COVID-19. We are pleased to be able to come together after a year to talk about equity and inclusion.”

While the Warrior family will be coming together once again, the summit will have a different look than the 2020 version as a result of COVID-19. Mercurio, who is a current medical student at Harvard, will be speaking to attendees virtually. There will be social distancing in the gym as both sides of the Wikert bleachers will be in use, and masks will be required of everyone in attendance. Like last year’s summit, students will break off into smaller groups following the speaker, but those groups will be more spread out than in the past and Fremont Hall will also be used to facilitate smaller groups. Chatters added that a Zoom component will be offered as well and is available to both students and community members. “We want that component for people who aren’t comfortable being in person,” Chatters said. “This is proof that you don’t have to be everywhere in person to have an impact. I think we’ve learned that from COVID, and that has helped bridge some of those gaps.”

A pandemic hasn’t been the only significant impact on society over the past year. Social injustices across the nation have prompted dialogue and action, including in the Midland community. “This past summer, with the social injustices, shined a light on the inequities of systems for some people,” Chatters said. “Our students came together and had some peaceful protests and leveraged that opportunity to bring more attention to the issue. We came together as a country, a campus, and a community.”

Chatters realizes progress has been made, but he also knows there are still many hurdles to be cleared to eliminate inequities that exist within our communities. “There are constant battles we are fighting, but we are United as Warriors,” he said. “The objective of the summit is to highlight those things. We’ve made it through these challenges as an institution, and we’ve encouraged students to bring these things up and have these discussions in a courageous way.”

Midland’s Equity and Inclusion Summit presents opportunities for barriers to be broken down. It provides a platform for students to engage in conversations with other students they might not otherwise. “We value a team approach at Midland. We have students who might be on the same athletic team, or in the same performances, or in the same residence hall,” Chatters said. “But sometimes, it’s hard to venture out of those spaces. This provides them the opportunity to branch out and have discussions with people they’ve never met before. They discover the unique aspects of other people from a cultural perspective. It allows them to see people in a different light and gives them a chance to recognize some of the similarities they have with people who they may look nothing like or know nothing about.”

In a year where many events have had to be put on hold or held virtually, Chatters is excited to bring campus together once again. “Our world has changed over the last year, and I want people to understand how much of a full-circle moment this is,” he said. “I hope we can recognize that we have battled through this together. This summit represents this united fight we are constantly in for social justice, inclusion, and equity. As an administration, we support inclusion, we are anti-racist, and we want to be champions of social justice. Actions speak louder than words, and we have to go on the offensive against racism and injustice. That’s our hope and united as Warriors - we will do that.”

For further information, contact Sidney Hirsch at hirsch@midlandu.edu.