One hand rose in the air.
Thumb out perpendicular to the pointer finger and pinkie, with the two remaining fingers bent down into the palm, the American Sign Language symbol for “I love you” was communicated in silence as more than 120 hands joined in the act of support and solidarity.
The Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) hosted an event Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. in the Main Lounge called UMatter which focused on topics such as privilege and power in our society.
Among the 12 other student organizations that co-sponsored the event were Black Men of Standard, the Muslim Student Association, the National Council of Negro Women and P.O.E.T.I.C. Five students performed original pieces of poetry that spoke about personal experiences with social injustice, their perspective of global social issues and ways to combat inequality.
The goal of UMatter was to get people talking about social issues in “a way that doesn’t feel preachy, so you feel like you can contribute your own thoughts and ideas,” said Chinez Madueke, assistant director for Leadership Development. “The point is not to overwhelm students. These issues are complex; we need to start the conversation.”
Students who attended the event participated in small group discussions focused on questions about social inequality and situations of injustice, personal and general. The evening gave a platform to voice thoughts, opinions, ideas and fears.
Members of other student organizations and MAC helped lead discussions and engage students. Zachariah Boyer, a senior and president of the United Students Assembly, said that all of the clubs involved contributed to the formation of UMatter.
“The culmination of all those ideas is this event,” the Boyer said. In the United Students Assembly they focus on the idea of intersectionality.
“This is defined as the bringing together of multiple identities and talking about how they can converge,” Boyer said.
Using this way of thought, this particular club can facilitate conversations about differences that people from similar backgrounds face. These ideas integrated easily into the theme of the night.
Graduate student Salah Altharthi didn’t know what to expect from the event he was invited to on Facebook. An international student from Saudi Arabia here for his masters in public relations, Altharthi said this event showed the best part of Seton Hall, everyone being so ready to communicate.
“These type of events and programs are exactly what we need in our community and in every school, starting from first grade to grad school,” Altharthi, president of the Saudi Student Association, said. “We need to keep fighting against injustice and racism.”
After UMatter he felt he could use his experience as a public relations graduate student to join campaigns against injustice and form social media campaigns to support equality and unity in SHU and outside communities.
Evelyn Peregrin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.