Highline College

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Unity Week hopes to connect Highline during hard times

Doris Martinez
Director of Student Diversity & Inclusion

Izzy Anderson Staff Reporter April 23

Highline’s Unity Week returns next week with a series of presentations available via Zoom.

Organizers said it was important to have the college’s annual exploration and celebration of diversity, even if it has to be done at arm’s length.

“Our signature weeks are opportunities for our community to collectively pause, reflect and engage with social justice as the foundation,” the Center for Cultural and Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) Director Doris Martinez said. said. “Unity Week is beyond celebrating diversity - it’s about understanding your identities, learning about communities and experiences that are different from your own, and what you can do in your own communities to create change.”

Unity Week is an annual series of events put on and sponsored by the CCIE.

The week of events will unfold through an online format.

“Unity Week will be a virtual experience through Zoom Webinar format. Our presenters will be able to engage with our audience virtually, which is exciting,” Martinez said. “The virtual experience gives an opportunity to engage with our campus community in a new way, so we are looking forward to see where this journey takes us.”

“There will be Zoom links available for each program on the website which one will use to attend the programs virtually,” Martinez said.

For more information on the programs being held during Unity Week and who’s presenting them, visit https://ccie.highline.edu/programs/unity-week/.

In light of the virus however, there was question on if Unity Week would continue this year.

“Ultimately, we continued moving forward with Unity Week 2020, especially in light of numerous events and programs being cancelled,” Martinez said. “The committee felt we could use Unity Week to bring our community together, especially at this time.”

However, Martinez did not pull Unity Week together on her own.

“I wanted to give special thank you and much gratitude [to] the 2020 Unity Through Diversity Week Planning Committee: Shon Meckfessel, Seini Vuli, Betty Vera, Diego Luna, Geomarc Panelo, Shannon Waits, Edwina Fui, Bob Scribner, Georgia Pirie and Marlena Afereti,” she said. “We spent hours in dialogue about what our students are experiencing inside and outside of the classroom.”

The theme is centered around uplifting the strength and resilience of the Highline students through this time, and bringing education back in a cultural sense, Martinez said.

“This year’s theme is Reclaiming Education. Honoring Resilience,” she said. “When we brainstormed themes in February, collectively we wanted to honor the strength of our students, and also reclaiming education through our cultural narratives. The timing for the overarching theme couldn’t be more fitting for where we are in this moment.”

As a whole, Unity Week hopes to continue and deepen Highline’s understanding and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion, she said.

“Highline College deeply values equity, diversity and inclusion,” Martinez said. “From the college’s commitment through the Cultural Diversity Policy, to the endless equity and culturally responsive efforts across the institution, the college is evolving - and yet there [is] still work that needs to be done.”