Published 02/03/17

Unity Pledge asks community to commit to humanity, civility

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Center for Diversity and Inclusion, prompted by recent national and political events, is hosting a series of events focusing on the University's commitment to ensuring a safe, welcoming and inclusive community.

The first, on Friday, Feb. 3, was a panel discussion on the challenges of supporting students with a variety of beliefs and opinions while reasserting values of diversity, respect, and inclusion during deeply divided times in the United States.

"A university has to expose people to different ideas."

The panelists were:

  • Professor of English and Cultural Studies Cileine de Lourenco. Ph.D.
  • Professor of Political Science John Dietrich, Ph.D.
  • Associate Professor of Political Science Nicole Freiner, Ph.D.
  • Modern Languages Lecturer Patricia Gomez, M.A.
  • Professor of Sociology Judith McDonnell, Ph.D.

"There will always be disagreements"

“A university has to expose people to different ideas,” Dietrich told the nearly 40 students in attendance. “There will always be disagreements based on political ideology. That’s not divisive or weak, that’s normal. This is the moment in your life where you will be exposed to the most diverse ideas.”

“It is really important to stop in a moment and think about how your own voice might affect someone else’s future path,” Freiner added. “When you feel uncomfortable, it’s good to speak up. Your voice is powerful. When we stay silent we can’t change anything.”

Afterward, the Bryant community had the opportunity to sign the Bryant Unity Pledge, which was initiated by Hanin Alsaleh ’18 (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). The pledge is a call to members of the Bryant community to stand together, to be visible, and to demonstrate Bryant’s steadfast commitment to humanity, civility, and unity.

The center will host ongoing monthly discussions on the theme. 

Students from 52 countries

Inclusivity and civility are of concern to the Bryant community, whose student population hails from 52 countries and includes a campus in Zhuhai, China.

Last November, Bryant students held "Rally for a Reason" as a way to support and celebrate Bryant’s diverse population. Spearheaded by Elizabeth Oluokun ’18 and Liam Rice ’17, students celebrated love, unity, and respect for one another on Nov. 18.

On Jan. 30, following President Trump's executive order regarding immigration, Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley sent email to the Bryant community reiterating the University's embrace of "internationalism, including cooperation with and understanding of different cultures, customs, and religions. Although the executive order is currently stayed under a temporary injunction by a federal judge, we must reassure our international students, staff, faculty and friends - both here on the Bryant campus and around the globe - that we are supportive of them and will provide whatever assistance is necessary in the coming months should they need help with this or any other pending action.  As a community of scholars, we owe them our support and assistance."