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UNITY RLC Celebrates its 20th Anniversary
Before Santa Clara adopted the concept of Residential Learning Communities (RLCs), the Walsh and McLaughlin residence halls partnered with the Multicultural Center (MCC) to form UNITY, the first themed dorm on campus. This student-driven initiative sought to provide a support structure for minority students at Santa Clara. Twenty years later UNITY has developed into the unique RLC that it is today, focusing on student diversity and civic engagement, promoting a concern for the common good among its residents.
This spring UNITY is celebrating its anniversary with plans to commemorate two decades of diversity, community learning, and, of course, unity.
To honor this milestone, UNITY hosted “UNITY at 20” exhibit in the Multicultural Reading Area of the Library. This exhibit includes pictures and written testimonials from past and present UNITY residents and staff, providing a historical look at the RLC. Other events around campus included an anniversary reception, an in-hall event, “Misa en Espanol,” for UNITY’s current residents, and MCC cultural shows like LOVE JONES and Intandesh. A celebration will also be held during SCU’s Grand Reunion this fall.
Six of the 10 MCC organizations at SCU today were originally involved in the creation of UNITY 20 years ago. Now UNITY hosts and supports many of these club’s social events and community outreach programs, as well as providing a home for many of the students involved. Those involved with UNITY are proud of the fact that they are no longer one of the only beacons of diversity on campus.
“UNITY provides a safe place for people to come a discuss things that have bothered them like social justice issues,” said Brandon Brackett, UNITY resident director. “It’s a jumping off point that can bring major issues to the rest of campus.”
Like most RLCs, UNITY hopes to foster a co-curricular learning environment where students can live, take classes, and attend RLC events that cater to a common theme. But UNITY is unique in that it provides students the opportunity to live in an environment that constantly promotes and encourages diversity. Over the years, this environment has become more inclusive of students who aren’t ethnic minorities, recognizing that diversity can be ethnic, religious, gender-based, geographic, sexual, or biological.
“UNITY is a place where people hold the door open for each other,” said Pancho Jimez, Drahmann advisor and UNITY faculty director from 2003 to 2009. “It’s a place where students can share in their diverse experience.”
UNITY has also worked hard to support SCU faculty and staff by supplementing the various courses that speak to the themes of diversity and civic engagement. Initiated by Jimez, UNITY’s faculty programming helps fund relevant field trips or programs that can contribute to a UNITY resident’s diversity education. Recently the residents had the opportunity to partner with four other RLCs and Professor Hsuan Tsen’s “Land, Place and Environment” class to go to Golden Gate Park and apply what the students learned in class. Professor Tsen lectured on the diversity of the park’s landscape and the students had the chance to visit the Japanese Tea Garden and the De Young museum.
While events like this are not unique to UNITY, the RLC is proud of its ability to bridge the gap between professors and students, in addition to encouraging residents to celebrate diversity and civic engagement. After 20 years, the UNITY founders and alumni can celebrate how their efforts changed SCU and how UNITY continues to inspire diverse, socially conscious on-campus living.