Head to Head: Do we need another KSUnite?

Kansas State University students and faculty gather for the KSUnite Rally at Anderson Lawn on Nov. 14, 2017. (Alanoud Alanazi | Collegian Media Group)

When Kansas State’s first KSUnite event occurred on Nov. 14, 2017, all classes were canceled and a rally was held on the lawn of Anderson Hall to promote unity and diversity among the student body.

A second KSUnite event has already been announced this semester, but do we really need it? The Collegian’s community co-editors discuss KSUnite head-to-head.

Kyle Hampel, community co-editor

I don’t think it was ever explicitly confirmed, but the first KSUnite was almost certainly a response to the string of hurtful incidents and racist controversies that K-State endured in 2017. With 2018 being much quieter, if not dead silent by comparison, it might seem unnecessary for us to have KSUnite Part II: Bigger and Better.

However, there are a number of reasons it could be a net positive for the university and its student body as a whole.

Details on KSUnite 2.0 are sparse, but I speculate that this is because it was announced very early compared to last year’s surprise reveal. It’s scheduled to happen on Oct. 9, but that’s all we know for now.

Although campus might seem quiet today, there’s no telling what it will be like in a few months. This is a little cynical, but KSUnite: The Sequel could possibly become something the level-headed folks on campus are clamoring for due to anti-diversity incidents that have yet to happen.

Even if our campus remains friendly until Oct. 9, I don’t think the university proclaiming that it supports and encourages human diversity is a bad thing.

I mean, how could it be bad? Diversity of thought, culture, religion and experiences are the foundations our society is built upon, and whether or not it’s “necessary,” KSUnite: Unite Harder will be an important reminder of what the university stands for.

Even if you don’t want there to be a KSUnite: Here We Go Again, you can just choose to not attend. The first rally canceled all classes in the afternoon, so hopefully that will happen again. Naysayers won’t even have to go to class! It’s a win-win.

Olivia Rogers, community co-editor

I am of the opinion that actions speak louder than words. If a friend tells you that they are going to show up to your birthday party, but then blows you off for another activity, the message is heard loud and clear.

Last year’s KSUnite was largely in response to alleged harmful actions taken over the course of 2017. These actions had caused disruption on campus and an atmosphere of tension. The solution, according to faculty and student leaders, was to hold a rally to publicly declare the mission of K-State and our values as a university.

Regardless of your opinion on last year’s KSUnite, it’s hard to deny that it did impact the university as a whole. The informational breakout sessions were well attended, the rally itself drew hundreds of students and it was well-covered by the local media.

However, this year’s KSUnite is merely an echo of last year, and it doesn’t seem like it will hold the same power as it did before.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for diversity, equal rights and upholding the dignity of every person. I’m just not sure KSUnite is accomplishing those goals. To me, repeating an event like KSUnite feels more like a public relations move than a true declaration of belief.

This brings me back to actions and words. If there’s anything to learn from KSUnite and the actions that inspired it, it’s that what we do has an impact.

Perhaps the most effective thing we can all do is choose to make our impact a good one. To be the kinder person, the person who smiles first, the person who stands up in the face of everyday injustice.

Martin Luther King Jr. is known for saying “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Let’s take that as encouragement to live lives of justice every day, and not just when a university event tells us to.

Kyle Hampel is a community editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. Olivia Rogers is a community editor for the Collegian and a junior in political science. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

Those words you just read were written by me, Kyle Hampel. I am a 2019 graduate in English. I have strong feelings about barbeque pizza and the Oxford comma. I am a former copy chief, community editor, feature editor, designer and deputy multimedia editor. Beloit, Kansas, is proud to call me their own, along with several other towns I've lived in that aren't as special to me.