On Thursday, Jan. 27, Castleton University students, staff and faculty funneled into the Casella Theater in the Fine Arts Center to kick off the new semester with the CU SeeMe Convocation.
The theme of this semester’s convocation was “Ride the Wave,” to match the 2021-2022 new student orientation theme “Catch the Wave,” and welcome new students to get involved here at Castleton.
The theme was created by CuSeeMe, a subcommittee of the Castleton campus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Kayla Laurie, Student Orientation Staff program leader, is a senior at Castleton and spoke about the numerous opportunities Castleton has to offer.
“Whether your talents lay on the sports fields, in classrooms or right here on Casella stage, there is plenty to succeed here at Castleton University,” Laurie said.
As she completes her last semester, Laurie spoke about how grateful she is for the programs she was involved with.
“My advice is to take every chance you get at Castleton, and ride the wave of opportunities before the good ones pass you by,” she said.
Marisa Valent-Altland, Soundings program coordinator also encouraged students to “ride the wave” of inclusivity and celebrate diversity, and she introduced this semester’s program of Soundings events, showing a mini-documentary of “Hiplet,” an upcoming Soundings event.
Interim CU President Tom Mauhs-Pugh spoke on the importance of seeing more than one side of things and being empathetic.
“Other differences are harder to navigate… often much more difficult than changing building codes and adopting a certain door width or door handle, or wearing a mask during a pandemic,” he said. “What they have in common, however, is you have to see the challenges before you begin to address them, and engaging our diversity with sensitivity and respect is a critical first step to seeing the challenge. We must see before we can care.”
Ryan Boeke, president of Castleton’s Student Government Association, also encouraged students to get involved on campus and to maximize their potential.
“I would not have been where I am today if I did not consistently go out and try new opportunities and take chances,” said Boeke, detailing the various clubs and activities he took on over the past four years. “This is my story. I’m grateful for the opportunities and chances that Castleton University has given me, and I can’t wait to graduate come May. The time is now for you to create your own story.”
And finally, Tajae Edwards, president of Castleton’s student chapter of the NAACP, the first of its kind in the state of Vermont, spoke on the importance of the NAACP and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on campus.
Edwards, like Boeke, is also part of many organizations on campus, including the Vermont State College’s Anti-Racism Committee.
“Let me strongly say this; no student, faculty, or staff member should ever question if they belong here,” said Edwards. “Because regardless of your race, ethnicity, culture, gender, or sexual orientation, you have a place here. And you should feel that way. That shouldn’t even be an ask.”