Students and faculty stood in front of the Campus Center on Jan. 17 talking to one another, waiting for the event to begin. The crowd slowly began to grow from 20 people to over 40. They were there for the Unity Rally organized by sociology Professor Linda Olson and philosophy Professor Brendan Lalor.
Olson is vice president for Higher Education of the Vermont branch of the American Federation of Teachers.
The national union announced that Jan. 17 would be an official day of unity. Prior to the announcement, she and others had already thought about having a unity event on our campus.
“There was a lot of talk among faculty and staff to do something like this in response to the politics of hate we’ve been hearing for the past year. This was already in the works and I jumped on an opportunity with resources,” Olson said.
The rally itself was organized to bring people together and show that hate toward any of our community members will not be tolerated. Lalor performed songs about unity alongside student speakers making their voices heard.
But there was more to the rally.
Olson hopes in the long term, that Castleton will be a hybrid of a sanctuary campus in order to help students without losing federal funding.
“We would designate Castleton as a space to protect our students who are immigrant students and would protect academic freedom on campus. All of these issues are central to a university. I would like us to make a concerted effort to protect all those things,” Olson said.
Freshman Sarah Robbins was one of the student speakers who shares the same hopes.
“I wanted to speak because I think it’s a really important issue that’s going on right now with the hate from the president and just this fear instilled in people. I just don’t think that’s right and I don’t think that our campus should follow that. We do have a lot of diversity on campus, so everyone should feel safe,” Robbins said.
One of Robbins fellow speakers, senior Corey Alberico, spoke not only because he’s a member of Peer Advocates for Change, but also because of his past. Some of his past girlfriends have been through traumatic experiences and he understands the hardships that others might be facing on campus.
“In my speech, I was talking about how people need to encourage and support with kindness. Sometimes it starts with hello. Saying hello to someone you might not normally say hello to. That can go a long way to know that someone else recognizes you,” he said.
It is this kindness and support that brought junior Rebekah Roubichaud to the rally. Roubichaud wishes for bigger changes to be made from this Unity Rally, like a place of mediation on campus that all faiths are welcome to use. Castleton’s diversity and epicenes with it are why senior Bre Morse joined the rally.
Morse is a CA and vice president of Castleton Activities Board. Through these positions, she has been able to work with a medley of people who have made an impact on her life.
“We may think we can do things on our own, but in all reality, everything runs much smoother when everyone works together to accomplish the same goal. Castleton is truly an amazing place, and I hope it continues in a positive direction with unity and safety for everyone,” Morse said.