What is KSUnite? Your questions answered

The morning light reflects off the limestone of Anderson Hall on October 2, 2015. (File Photo by Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

The university will cancel afternoon classes and close all offices today between 1 and 3 p.m. for the K-State Unity Walk and KSUnite. Here are answers to some common questions about the events this afternoon.

What is KSUnite?

According to the university’s website for the event, KSUnite is meant to unite students, faculty and staff to “reaffirm who we are, what we value and what we stand for as the K-State family.” In what the university called a “rare closure of all classes and offices,” the university will effectively shut down between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday. Departments that cannot easily accommodate such a closure, such as public safety and dining services, are expected to remain open.

The Unity Walk will begin promptly at 1 p.m. or when Anderson Hall’s bells start to chime, at which point members of the K-State community will be asked to walk to the lawn east of Anderson Hall from wherever they may be, or from these designated meeting points:

  • College of Business Building (south door)
  • Derby Dining Center (south door entrance near Derby Bakery)
  • Dole Hall (east door)
  • Kramer Dining Center (Wefald Hall main entrance)
  • Student Union (ground floor courtyard)
  • Nichols Hall (north door)

At 1:30 p.m., the KSUnite program will begin and leaders of the K-State community will “provide a message of unity and outline steps that all K-Staters can take as the community moves forward.” Speakers will include Jack Ayres, student body president; Darrell Reese, president of the Black Student Union; university president Richard Myers; and the Rev. Troy Bowers of Manhattan’s First United Methodist Church.

After KSUnite, the university will host facilitated conversations on topics such as the university’s Principles of Community, cultural competency, need-based scholarships and an update on the proposed Multicultural Center.

Members of the K-State community are encouraged to wear purple Tuesday.

Why is it being held?

“The rally is not a response to any specific event,” Ayres said. “It’s not about the racist vandalism or anything in particular. It’s more the fact that we as a university need to stand up to hate as it exists in all forms. I think that our campus has been challenged by that this semester.

“Regardless of the details of any specific incident, I think that we have a responsibility to stand up and be a leader for the state and for the region,” Ayres continued. “We’re not going to be tolerant of intolerance.”

While organizers of the event have not pointed to any specific incident or issue as the spur for canceling classes, the timing of the event — which is meant to promote unity and diversity — comes after a string of controversial incidents involving race, sex and religion have rocked K-State’s campus in the previous year.

What classes are canceled?

All regular Tuesday classes between 1 and 3 p.m. Tuesday will be canceled. This includes 1:05 – 2:20 p.m and 2:30 – 3:45 p.m. classes, as well as Monday through Friday classes that would have begun at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

The KSUnity event website says faculty can decide between canceling or rescheduling studio and laboratory sections during that time frame. Check with your instructor to clarify what their decision is.

How many people are going?

Ayres said he had no idea how many people would attend KSUnite, but he said he hoped it would number in the thousands. For comparison, about 500 people attended an evening diversity rally earlier this semester in the wake of white nationalist posters appearing on campus.

It is important to note, however, that the September rally was held after hours when students and faculty had largely gone home. By contrast, Tuesday’s rally will take place during a time where many students and university staff are still on campus.

What steps are being taken to ensure the security of the event?

The K-State Police Department declined to comment on what exact security measures are being taken for the event, but according to the Division of Human Capital Services, “adequate security measures will be in place to secure the KSUnite event.”

Ayres said K-State Police chief Ronnie Grice has spearheaded the university’s efforts to ensure security and accessibility. Additionally, Mid-Campus Drive, Vattier Street and Butterfly Lane, which surround Anderson Hall’s lawn, will be closed to vehicle traffic.

What should I wear?

Purple, and plenty of it. The National Weather Service is forecasting a mostly cloudy, foggy drizzle morning with a high of 58 degrees. Later on in the evening, expect a chance of drizzle before 7 p.m. (as of Tuesday evening).

Why should I go?

Ayres said students should strongly consider attending to show solidarity and unity among the K-State community.

“I think this is a time where we can really stand up as Kansas State University,” Ayres said. “It’s important to be a part of the solution, because if you’re not a part of that, you’re a part of the problem. At the same time, we’re not saying that Tuesday is going to be about solutions, but it really is about moving forward and leading and really being the best that we can be.”

What if I can’t go?

Don’t fret, KSUnite is not a required event for K-State students or faculty. Additionally, the Collegian will partner with Channel 8 News to livestream the Unity Walk and KSUnite via the Collegian’s Facebook page starting at 1 p.m. KSDB, the university’s student-run radio station, will also broadcast the events on 91.9 FM.

The Collegian’s reporters will also attend each of the workshops, so be sure to check out KStateCollegian.com and Wednesday’s print edition of the Collegian for all the details on KSUnite.

I'm Rafael Garcia, and I'm a 2019 K-State graduate in journalism and former editor-in-chief of the K-State Collegian. I believe that much of the world's problems come from a lack of understanding of other people, but by telling other people's stories and finding the good in the world, I think we can increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. Questions, comments, concerns, news tips? Email the Collegian team at news@kstatecollegian.com.