Chancellor Brady Deaton stood with a smile on his face as he unveiled the “One Mizzou” campaign in the MU Student Center on Thursday.
“Let me just say that for me, as chancellor of the university, this truly is the proudest moment that I have had,” Deaton said.
Plans for the campaign have been in motion since February, when a student was charged with painting a racially-charged graffiti message on a statue outside Hatch Hall. Since this incident, numerous student groups have been meeting weekly to plan this campaign.
“Each of our student governments and the student organizations here at Mizzou are working with our constituents to make this possible on campus,” Residence Halls Association President Lauren Thomas said.
Graduate Professional Council Vice President Graham McCaulley said the last time such a large audience gathered at the Student Center was its official opening in October. He said this marked a “new beginning” for MU.
“Today also marks a new beginning, but not one that is confined within the walls of a building,” McCaulley said. “Rather, this is one that resides in our hearts and minds. This new beginning is our resolve and our pledge to embrace, to celebrate and to uphold the many students and communities as One Mizzou and to create a culture of respect and responsibility.”
Ways MU can go about fostering this culture include the creation of a diversity course requirement and integrating diversity into Summer Welcome, Legion of Black Collegians President Lisa White said.
“In addition to these efforts, we ask that you take it upon yourself to promote diversity and end discrimination,” White said. “It is about students educating students, sometimes even faculty and staff: sharing those experiences we have, the cultures in which we were raised in and those critical moments that have helped shape us. In a way, these conversations bring a better understanding to all.”
Missouri Students Association President Eric Woods said the support of the program was essential.
“We’ve all been inspired by the positive reaction and enthusiasm that One Mizzou has been met with not only by our fellow students, but by administrators, faculty and staff as well,” Woods said. “Without this broad support, we could never have brought this initiative to where it is today. With that continued support, we will see that it continues well into the future.”
This sustained support of the program is what will ultimately make it succeed, Deaton said.
“We may not be at the mountaintop yet, but I think we have truly arrived at least at the base of a mountain,” Deaton said. “We look up with confidence that we can get there and then move to the other side. Truly, we can build the kind of learning community that the University of Missouri has aspired to be.”
Deaton signed a pledge to promote a culture of respect and responsibility at MU, and encouraged other students to do the same.
“We will work tirelessly together to create a culture of respect and responsibility on this campus and make it abundantly clear that despite race or religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other factor, the only colors that matter to us at Mizzou are black and gold,” Woods said.