Good evening and welcome to this exciting event that allows us to share Penn State's ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion on every campus. I'm Robin Becker, Liberal Arts Research Professor of English and women, and I'm your emcee for this evening.
I'm excited to be here tonight to witness what I'm told will be not only an event that begins our yearlong focus on diversity and inclusion at Penn State, but also a spectacular, multi-media presentation on the front of Old Main. I'm also happy to welcome our campus communities who are watching via live stream. And it's great to see so many faculty, staff, students, and community members in attendance tonight. I'd like to welcome, in particular, State College Borough Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, who is here in a town-gown show of support. Tonight, we all have the opportunity to commit ourselves to an initiative titled, "All In at Penn State. And here to tell us more is Marcus Whitehurst, Penn State's Vice President Provost for Educational Equity.
Good evening. As Robin said, I'm Marcus Whitehurst, Vice Provost for Educational Equity. Our commitment to being a diverse, equitable, and welcoming institution is woven into the very fabric of this University. It is deeply ingrained in the decisions and the ways we approach recruitment of students, faculty, and staff. . . and in the way we teach, learn, and interact with one another. But, we know there's always more that we can and should do to foster inclusivity, and to ensure that we recognize the opportunities and benefits that greater diversity brings, such as stronger relationships, increased creativity, and greater reach into the global community.
We are here this evening to embark on a public conversation about diversity and inclusion with a spectacular kickoff beginning in just a few minutes. We have also created a year of events, conversations, and activities. To find out more about these upcoming events, visit allin.psu.edu created by WPSU. This website provides resources on members of our communities who can facilitate a conversation, video links, discussion guides, and questions to ask ourselves about what more we can and should be doing.
Just to make sure we're all on the same page here tonight, I think it's important to mention diversity and inclusion separately, just for a moment. Diversity, of course means all the ways we differ, such as religion, ability, age, race, sexual orientation, gender, economic status, and more. Some of these differences, we are born with and cannot change. But anything that makes us unique is part of the definition of diversity. However, diversity should not occur without inclusion.
Inclusion puts the concept of diversity into action by creating an environment of respect. Where ideas, backgrounds and perspectives from anyone can be captured for the benefit of everyone. As part of this year's efforts, we want to highlight those who champion equity, diversity, and inclusion at Penn State. We have created a new award. The All In Achievement Award. This award will recognize a student, faculty, or staff member who has made a commitment to inclusion and whose life work embodies diversity, inclusion, and equity in all of its forms. More information on this will follow in the coming days and I hope that each and every one of you here this evening will be a potential winner of this award.
This evening, we launch All In at Penn State. A commitment to diversity and inclusion to remind us to keep the momentum of our efforts going. This is also meant to underscore the need to do more. I ask that all of you help us foster a safe and respectful environment of everyone. By affirming that you are All In, you take responsibility as Penn Staters that you will do what you can, when you can, in all places that you can, to gain a different perspective of the world and its people and continue the dialogue on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
So I hope that we all can count on you to take an active role in being All In. I thank you so much this evening, and enjoy the rest of the night. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Marcus. You can count me All In.
And for those of you in our audience who also want to be All In, you can use the official Penn State geo filter on SnapChat tonight to show that you're with us. Next, allow me to introduce Information Sciences and Technology student Brooke Jin and faculty member Susan Russell, Associate Professor of Theatre to talk about the student perspective on diversity and inclusion and the important role faculty can and do play.
Good evening, Penn State. When I first walked onto this campus I was so excited to experience all that the University had to offer. I thought that there was so much opportunity for both my personal and academic growth, and so many people to meet. But, there was a distinct moment when I stopped feeling that way. I stopped embracing my identity because of blatant discrimination and hostility towards who I am from my peers. I knew there was diversity at this campus, but I did not feel included. This made me think. How could we expect to come together as a community if we lack the bonds that hold us together and we're missing trust?
How can we support one another, not only when times are trying for our respective communities, but also on a daily basis. It all starts with the individual. The individual who is proactive and being educated about the world and constantly seeking new ways to expand their understanding of those who are different from themselves. The individual is part of a greater community, helping to build the foundation of awareness and acceptance. Diversity and inclusion are visions and values that each individual needs to carry with them and keep in their consciousness as they interact with people on a daily basis. The world would not be where it is today without the richness of diversity and the collaborative efforts of everyone of every background.
Inclusion means showing support for events, movements, bridging the gap between domestic and international students and community members and taking the time to understand and connect with someone who you're different from. We are making great strides to bring this community together and though we may not see the results right away, we are gradually moving towards a vision of inclusion. To truly be All In is to make that commitment as individuals for a lifetime. Thank you.
Wow. Well, being human can be hard. But being All In can make it simpler. To me, if you're All In, you show up. You show up to your classes. You show up to your relationships. You show up to your friendships with a whole heart. You show up to a walk on this campus by seeing the person walking towards you. You see them. And then you show up by actually hearing what they have to say. You know, diversity and difference seem to be easy. You know, we see each other's differences. We feel our differences, but the inclusion part keeps tripping us up. I mean, how am I supposed to make all the decisions I'm supposed to make on a daily, moment to moment basis, with all of you and all of you included?
I mean, that is a great big leap. But it might not be a leap of faith. It might be a leap into faith. The faith that you and I want the same things for our family, our friends, and our community. The faith that you and I, if we work together, we can actually find a common goal and make that goal our work. The faith that if we leap into a peaceful, collaborative communication, we can create the culture where everyone has a say in what peace is. That, to me, sounds like being All In. And that, to me, sounds like if you take the moment right now and look around and see the people next to you, in front of you, and behind you, and actually listen to their hearts beating, you will see yourself and hear your own heartbeat. Aren't we beautiful? Aren't we possible? Aren't we All In at this moment?
It's what we do best. I am All In. And from this moment, every decision I make has you in mind, and you in mind. I am All In. Peace.
Thank you Brooke and Susan. Now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Penn State President Eric Barron.
Who has been a champion of this effort at Penn State since his arrival. . . Dr. Barron.
Well, thank you for joining us on this occasion that is both timely and historic. Penn State reflects the changing face of our nation and we embrace the vision for a just and unified University. We strive to create a place where it is recognized that everyone, regardless of what it is you think you see, belongs here because each and every person you see has earned the right to be here.
It is important for all of us to note that this is more than a one-time multi-media event. This event kicks off our declaration that as a University, we are committed to diversity and inclusion. It is also our recognition that there is much more to be done. Diversity comes in many shapes, colors, and sizes, and it makes us a stronger community. Tonight, we publicly acknowledge that it's all a part of the Penn State identity. We are a rainbow. We are Black Lives Matter. We are every beautiful shade of humanity. We wear camo. We have gray hair, pink hair, straight hair, sometimes no hair. We wear crosses and Jewish stars and headscarves. We use wheelchairs, skate boards, and electric cars. We have disabilities you cannot see and we have gifts that you cannot see. We are young and we are older. We are economically capable, and economically challenged. We speak many languages, and we come from every state and many countries around the globe.
During my career, I have spent more than 25 years at Penn State with students, faculty, and staff from every walk of life. I have found that our community has an amazing potential for goodness, as well as the courage of our convictions to be a national leader in diversity and inclusion efforts.
As Penn Staters, we have been interconnected throughout our shared history. As the Nittany Lion football team once stood up to segregation by saying, "we play all or we play none." . We are Penn State. Tonight, we confirm that very fundamental meaning of those words, "we are." and we say, "we are Penn State. And we are All In."
Now, I have the great privilege of introducing a special multi-media presentation that is a first for Penn State. It brings to life Penn State's history of diversity and inclusion on the historic facade of Old Main that we are sharing. This kind of innovation and original thinking underscores Penn State's commitment to the All In initiative. Now, let's watch this brief video.
Abraham Lincoln signed the land grant act that brought higher education to the farmers of Pennsylvania. As our numbers grew, so did the opportunities. And access. Barriers began to fall. The progress was slow. We took a bold stand against segregation, declaring that we are a a unified team and we are all Penn State. It was a declaration of unity, but there was more work to be done.
Times were turbulent. Students stood up for their rights, which inspired change, and opened doors. We've traveled the path to diversity, and we've made progress. But progress doesn't mean you're finished. More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke from the stage of Rec Hall. ". . . we've got to solve this problem. Men and women of good will, students all over this country. Developed a sort of divine discontent."
His call for unity and perseverancerings true for today.
If we are to solve this problem.
If we are to solve this problem.
Men and women of good will.
Students all over this country must develop sort of a --
Those before us displayed a steadfast commitment to create a diverse Penn State.
They were All In.
Today, we need to go beyond diversity.
Dig deeper, and ask ourselves.
How do we work together?
Listen to each other.
Stand up for one another.
Are we inclusive?
Are we All In?
Are we All In for --
This is our story.
There is promise in our future.
Be who you are.
We are All In. Are you?
AUDIENCE: Penn State!
AUDIENCE: Penn State!
AUDIENCE: Penn State!
AUDIENCE: Penn State!
Wow. Please join me in thanking everyone who is involved in the production. A special thanks to our offices of Student Affairs and Educational Equity, WPSU and a core group of students. They were the ones who came together to ask if a focused initiative like this was possible. This multimedia presentation will be showing Friday and Saturday evening this weekend. Tell your friends not to miss it. Finally, thanks all of you for joining us to kick off our community-wide commitment to diversity and inclusion. I encourage all of you to be who you are together. I'mm All In. I hope you are as well. Thank you.