Awareness Walk will emphasize oneness of campus
By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
Sunday’s One Love Awareness Walk on the Grand Canyon University campus is designed to be one more step toward togetherness.
“It’s really to bring awareness of our office and its expansion. It’s to bring unity and oneness to our campus and really to inform students of the resources that are now available to them through the vehicle of the Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion Office,” said the office’s Director, Donald Glenn, who emphasized that the walk will not be about politics. It will instead concentrate on uniting the campus community in its Christian beliefs.
The walk, which will start winding its way through campus at 6:15 p.m. Sunday, is the first major event of the semester for the new office and will wrap up Welcome Week festivities.
The scope of the department was re-evaluated over the summer — during not only a global pandemic but amidst months of social unrest across the country — to not only define diversity from a Christian worldview but to also focus more on unity, civil discourse and inclusivity.
The duties of Glenn, who joined GCU in 2019 as Multicultural Manager, were expanded this summer to overseeing the Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion Office in the Student Life Building, next to the Promenade. It’s where you’ll find not only Glenn but a diversity specialist and 10 student leaders.
Glenn spent much of the summer meeting with various departments, speaking about recent social unrest, planning events and sharing what he sees as his office’s role.
Now, after months of molding and shaping the office, he wants to introduce his department to students returning to campus.
They can drop in during the Multicultural Office’s open house, scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Saturday.
But the most visible introduction will be the One Love Awareness Walk.
It was an idea, Glenn said, that started with a forum of students over the summer who were concerned that recent social issues would not be addressed once they returned to campus.
“I wanted the students to know we are aware of issues that are going on in the world. We can’t control what goes on out there. But while we’re here in these gates, I thought it would be appropriate to remind our campus of how we are going to conduct ourselves and what we are encouraging as an office for the campus — to be walking in unity and love and, at the very basis, that we are treating each other with the dignity and respect that each person deserves.”
The walk is “aimed for students to raise their voice in awareness of steps we can take to promote multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion at GCU,” he added.
Students will start to gather at 5:30 p.m. in front of GCU Arena, between Ethington Theatre and the College of Theology Building. The walk will depart from the Technology Building around 6:15 p.m. and will wind north past the College of Fine Arts and Production Building. Participants will turn left at the northeast corner of Camelback Hall and left again at Prescott Hall, then will follow the Promenade and will end at the Quad.
That’s where Glenn will give a short talk — a biblical argument for diversity and inclusion. He has emphasized how we should not dismiss our differences but learn from them, appreciate the diversity of the campus community and encourage conversations. Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and University Pastor, also will address walk participants.
Various clubs will man tables on the Quad, and the event will wrap up at 8 p.m.
At least 250 students are expected to join in the walk, which will follow social-distancing protocols. Students are asked to preregister and will be assigned to a lane for social distancing. They also will be required to wear masks.
The hope is that the One Love Awareness Walk will help set the tone for the academic year — in-person learning starts the day after the event. Students and faculty will reconnect for the first time after the abrupt end of the spring semester six months ago.
Roman Kim, a student leader in the Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion Office, sees the event as “a peaceful opportunity to unite the student community from all backgrounds.”
“I think there are 90-plus different cultures and backgrounds at GCU,” he said. “There’s a pandemic going on. Everybody is worried about coming back to campus. We just want to pass the message that, especially here in the Multicultural Office, we are listening to them. We are going to do our best so that they feel welcome and so they don’t feel alone.”
GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.
IF YOU GO
What: One Love Awareness Walk, presented by the Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion Office
When: 6:15 p.m. Sunday (the lineup starts at 5:30 p.m. in front of GCU Arena, between Ethington Theatre and the College of Theology Building), followed by an address on the Quad at 7 p.m. by Donald Glenn, Director of the Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion Office, and by Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Pastor and Dean of Students.
Where: On the GCU campus
Parade route: The walk will depart from the Technology Building, head north past the College of Fine Arts and Production Building, turn left at the northeast corner of Camelback Hall, then turn left at Prescott Hall before following the Promenade and ending at the Quad for a rally.
Etc.: Preregister here