SPIRIT program seeks tangible action on campus issues

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The sun sets behind Anderson Hall on April 14, 2015. (George Walker | The Collegian)

While Kansas State will hold the third KSUnite event this fall, another event will take place on Feb. 7, 2020, with a similar spirit.

The SPIRIT — Student Problem Identification & Resolution of Issues Together — program is a day-long event facilitated at high schools and universities through the Community Relations Service of the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to an online CRS document, the program “helps schools address tension and conflict related to issues of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or disability.”

The event is invite-only and will consist of 60 to 80 individuals from campus ranging from students, administration, faculty, staff and community members. The goal is to invite people with different backgrounds to determine issues on campus and find solutions to them.

“Unlike KSUnite, the goal after we leave SPIRIT is about tangible action-oriented items for students, faculty, staff, administration and the community as well for how we can move forward with this collective vision,” said Jansen Penny, student body president and senior in industrial engineering.

As co-chair of the Intercultural Leadership Council, Penny said he believes the event has the same spirit, no pun intended, as the council.

Trumanue Lindsey, director of diversity and multicultural student affairs and the committee’s adviser, used himself as an example for the necessity of the program, saying that as much as he tries to connect across campus, he is not aware of everything.

“I may not be aware of all of the challenges that our students or other aspects of campus face, because a lot of my day to day workings are within [Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs] with our multicultural students here on campus,” Lindsey said.

The day will consist of participants going back and forth from small groups to a large group, eventually narrowing down a list of the top issues on campus.

“We’re taking what we’ve identified, and now our groups are a little bit more diverse, and then developing strategies, potential strategies, to address those challenges that were brought together, then bringing that back to the large group, and then prioritizing them,” Lindsey said.

Once the issues and action items are identified, the committee will use them as a roadmap, Penny said.

“I know I’m really excited for it,” Penny said. “As far as I know, we haven’t had something like this on campus.”

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.