The recent Upstander Walk brought together students, faculty, and staff to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging, while condemning injustice of all kinds.
April 24, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Throughout her time as a Charger, Mary Lippa ’23 has been committed to fostering unity and respect. She was recently part of a University-wide initiative that brought Chargers together to walk in solidarity with each other and to reinforce the University’s values.
“To promote inclusivity and safe spaces, we must examine where we fall flat,” she said. “The University can and does create a culture that is knowledgeable. I encourage everyone not to be bystanders. Help members of the LGBTQ+ community find safety and elevate their voices. And to members of the LGBTQ+ community: You are loved at the University.”
‘Make the world a better place’
The Upstander Walk was an opportunity for Chargers to walk in unity as a symbol of community solidarity against all injustices – including those pertaining to social, racial, and economic factors. Before the walk began, Ashley Dunn, assistant dean of student support, explained the importance of being an “upstander” – one who speaks up and intervenes if an individual is bullied or attacked – versus a “bystander,” who does not get involved.
“We must be willing to stand up and speak up, to amplify others’ voices,” she said. “We must make a commitment to choose action when others are in need. As a community and as an institution of higher education, we must choose advocacy and action.”
The event brought together dozens of Chargers – students, faculty, and staff – who united to show their support. The group included Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D., interim president, who reflected on the value of words such as “ally” and “belonging,” as well as the importance of coming together as a community.
“I look out today at people I consider to be friends, and it takes a friend to be a friend,” said Dr. Zenger, who, in addition to celebrating unity and community, was also celebrating a birthday. “What if we just treated everyone as a friend? We’d be a friend and we’d help. Let’s embrace love and friendship. Wouldn’t that make the world a better place? Isn’t that what this event is about?”
‘It is about action’
Starting in the Maxcy Quad, the walk brought Chargers around the central part of campus, stopping in front of Anemone and Steven Kaplan Hall, the Charger statue, and at a gazebo near Sheffield Hall, before ending at the Myatt Center.
Timothy Prince, coordinator for leadership in the Myatt Center who planned the event, was encouraged by how many Chargers took part in the walk. He hopes this event will continue to strengthen the foundation for inclusivity at the University.
“I hope everyone learned that ‘upstander’ isn’t about doing just one thing, and that it is about action,” he said. “We are all different in beautiful ways, and I hope we can celebrate that rather than letting it divide us.”