Student leaders from various organizations came together Monday to kick off the first-ever One Mizzou Week with a rally.
“The great thing about the One Mizzou program is that it is currently happening right now, so any hopes and dreams that we have for a better tomorrow can literally start today,” Triangle Coalition communications officer Mason Kerwick said.
Different student leaders spoke about progress in MU’s diversity.
The first speaker, Roshaunda McLean from the Associated Students at the University of Missouri, discussed the importance of unity at MU despite political ideologies.
“The common bond of us all being Mizzou Tigers is greater than our political ideologies,” she said.
Hispanic American Leadership Organization treasurer Alex Sanchez was the next to speak. He discussed how he became proud of his Hispanic background after he joined HALO and Four Front.
“What we want is a diverse mindset,” he said. “No matter where you came from, you want to come with an open mind.”
Sanchez said this is why he thinks the One Mizzou initiative is important.
“The (One Mizzou) initiative brings in students from all over the campus and educates the general student that comes to give everyone a common purpose,” Sanchez said.
After Sanchez, Tony Simpson spoke on behalf of Four Front chairwoman Ana Gutierrez-Gamez. Simpson talked about the need to create an inclusive student body.
“Hearing students who had the same experience that I had when I joined the University of Missouri and discovering new cultures and learning and meeting different people is the beauty that One Mizzou is striving to attain,” he said.
Two representatives were from the Asian American Association. The first, freshman Young Kwon, discussed how diversity should be more than just a catchphrase.
“One Mizzou is a dream to achieve diversity in (the) Mizzou campus,” Kwon said. “Our individual plan to achieve our dreams is to put ourselves out there and to know people around us and accept our differences.”
AAA Vice President Kevin Guevara, one of the people who helped plan One Mizzou Week, talked after Kwon. He said he remembered the optimism during the planning stages.
“One Mizzou has a potential to bring the campus closer and more culturally aware than before,” Guevara said. “One Mizzou has the power to significantly change this campus for the better.”
Kerwick spoke on behalf of the Triangle Coalition. By reading a clipping from a 1995 Triangle Coalition promotional flyer, he highlighted the changes in the acceptance of the LGBTQ community. He said the campus is moving in the right direction.
Cameron Grant, vice president of the Legion of Black Collegians, was the last student organization leader to speak. He talked about the progress MU has made in its acceptance of the black community.
“I’m really excited about all the events the One Mizzou Week has to offer, the progress this university has made and standing together in pursuit of future goals and aspirations toward this feeling of One Mizzou,” he said.
After the speeches concluded, the student speakers and rally attendees walked with lit candles to the steps of Jesse Hall.
Nathan Stephens, senior coordinator of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, urged the crowd to meet other students and shrink the campus. He also said it’s time for One Mizzou Week.
“We’ve made several transitions, one being into the SEC (Southeastern Conference)," he said. "We’ve also made transitions into a sense of unity and a sense of moral community. So, what better time to celebrate a week of success and a year where we expect to do great things?”