EDITORIAL: KSUnite has noble goals, but we hope to see more

Kansas State students and faculty gather on the Anderson Hall lawn during the KSUnite rally in Manhattan, Kan. on Nov. 14, 2017. (Photo by Justin Wright | Collegian Media Group)

If we’ve decided KSUnite needs to be an annual event even when we aren’t in the midst of crisis and controversy, we have to make it worthwhile.

In 2017, KSUnite was a desperate measure, something important and necessary that grew out of a time of racial tension and a series of — real and fake — racist actions. The university was on edge and this event was meant to reunify the campus.

After the first KSUnite, the Kansas State community saw the university make good on some long-awaited promises, like the multicultural student center taking shape, and new initiatives set into motion, like the hiring of a chief diversity officer and an administrator to oversee the Division of Multicultural Student Affairs.

The values and aspirations of KSUnite are noble, and the ongoing fight for diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion at K-State is critically important for our land grant mission and goals to prepare students for life in the real world. But this event is not about campus reunification anymore. It’s a weekly newsletter and an annual event planned behind closed doors.

If we’ve decided KSUnite needs to be an annual event even when we aren’t in the midst of crisis and controversy, we have to make it worthwhile. It can’t just be a platform to applaud what we have done or make big announcements to temporarily appease the desires of students who are begging for change — it has to have the actual push to make real, systemic alterations to make K-State a truly inclusive campus.

Last year, the Collegian Editorial Board expressed our support for diversity and inclusion, but we also said KSUnite does not actually deal with the problems at hand because, in so many words, the event is a band-aid to a wound that goes deeper than public appearance. Furthermore, it does not reach the audiences who need to hear the message the most: the students who opt out of going because they don’t see a problem.

In a Twitter poll launched early in October, the Collegian asked students if they thought KSUnite has made K-State a better place, and of the 178 respondents, 44 percent said ‘No’ and 16 percent said ‘Yes.’ The remaining 40 percent said they thought KSUnite is a work in progress. There is hope in that, and we’d like to believe that too, but for now, we will keep waiting for a plan for the future, not accolades for the past.

This year, we hope to see and participate in a KSUnite truly dedicated to the future of diversity at K-State — one that does not look backwards at what we have done, but looks forward to what we still must do, one that reaches past the students who see the need for intercultural learning and reaches those who haven’t seen why it’s important.