15th Annual Unity Week Celebrations Conclude with Keynote Address

Students, faculty, and staff participate in the second iteration of “Faces of the Hill” as part of the week’s events.

Since its beginnings in 2000, Unity Week has been a celebration of diversity at Holy Cross, as well as an opportunity to engage in dialogue around issues of justice and inclusion. The 15th annual event, organized by the Student Government Association’s co-directors for diversity Amina Gomez ’16 and Edgar Rodriguez ’16, was no exception to this celebration. Over the course of 10 days, from Nov. 6-16, a range of events were held across campus, from performances and lectures to discussions and a second installation of the photography project “Faces of the Hill,” which began in 2014.

This year, “Faces of the Hill” asked members of the Holy Cross community to complete the phrase “My message to the world is…” and to have their picture taken alongside their messages written on whiteboards. “Our goal with ‘Faces of the Hill’ was to allow for the opportunity for students to express themselves by writing their personal message to the world,” explains Rodriguez. “We intentionally created such a broad and vague topic in order to incorporate the diversity of issues that are important for every individual. We did not want to confine or dictate what students should write about, but rather emphasize that every issue/message is important and significant in its own way and deserves to be heard.”

The images from “Faces of the Hill” can be viewed and downloaded from the gallery on the Unity Week website.

The final event of the week was a keynote address by Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker, whose work centers on the changing American identity. His address, “Define American,” discussed his experiences as an undocumented immigrant in the United States.

“I think it is important to read about the different opinions surrounding the conversation on immigration in our classrooms, but I think when we put a face to the issue, it instantly brings out the humanity and compassion that we should have when talking about such an important topic,” says Rodriguez about the decision to invite Vargas as the keynote speaker.

“Clearly, our work to create unity, while honoring and preserving the diversity of our campus community, has to be ongoing,” said Rev. Philip Boroughs, S.J., president of the College, in his introductory remarks for Vargas Monday night. “And for all the issues we will study and challenges we will face, experience tells us that forming meaningful friendships with one another across diverse cultures, races, countries of origin, political differences, sexual orientations, and faith creates energy to engage in difficult conversations with hope. The work of inclusion and justice is the responsibility of us all, and contains within it our survival and our future.”

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