University community comes together to launch 'All In at Penn State'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State community came together Thursday (Oct. 6) by the hundreds to kick off “All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion” — recognizing the importance of diversity and having an environment that is inclusive and respectful. The 40-minute event was focused on encouraging the community to be “All In.”

Students, faculty and staff and friends of the University gathered on the lawn of Old Main at University Park and at Penn State campuses across the Commonwealth to launch the initiative, which will continue throughout the year. As historic 3-D pictures splashed across the front of Old Main and color poured down its stately columns, the crowd watched the multi-presentation, which urged them to “go beyond diversity, dig deeper and ask ourselves, ‘How can we work together, listen to each other, stand up for one another. Are we inclusive? Are we all in?” The presentation will continue to be shown on the front of Old Main the evenings of Oct. 7 and 8.

President Eric Barron noted that the initiative is more than a one-time event. Instead, it demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion, a recognition that more needs to be done and a call for everyone to be “All In.”

“Diversity comes in many shapes, colors and sizes, and it makes us a stronger community. Tonight we publicly acknowledge that diversity is part of the Penn State identity,” Barron said.

“During my career, I have spent more than 25 years at Penn State with students, faculty and staff from every walk of life,” he said. “I have found that our community has an amazing potential for goodness, as well as the courage of our convictions to be a national leader in diversity and inclusion efforts.”

The multi-media presentation highlighted Penn State’s history, including student unrest in the 1960s and the continuing need to question what more can and should be done to foster inclusivity. “We’re traveled the path to diversity, and we’ve made progress, but progress doesn’t mean you’re finished,” the narrator said.

“All In at Penn State,” which will continue throughout the year, supports the University’s commitment to fostering welcoming and inclusive communities that embrace diversity, encourage meaningful discussions and are respectful of everyone regardless of their background, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, abilities, veteran’s status or any of the ways we differ. The initiative challenges community members to ask what they can do to embrace diversity and have a positive impact at Penn State and beyond.

Khushboo Attarwala, a Penn State student watching the presentation, appreciated the event.

“I feel it’s hard to address the problem if you’re not willing to admit there is a problem,” she said. “We have to first admit, that, yes, there is a problem, but we’re working on it.”

Essence of Joy

Essence of Joy performed Oct. 6 in front of Old Main as part of an event that kicked off the University initiative "All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion."

Image: Patrick Mansell

Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for educational equity, agreed the initiative is meant to underscore the need to do more.

“I ask that all of you help us foster a safe and open-minded environment at Penn State that is respectful of everyone. By affirming that you are 'All In' — you take responsibility as individuals and as Penn Staters that you will do what you can, when you can, in all the places that you can, to gain a different perspective of the world and its people, and to continue the dialogue on equity, diversity and inclusion,” Whitehurst said.

Penn State student Brooke Jin, who spoke at the event along with Susan Russell, associate professor of theatre, shared her experiences of being excited to come to Penn State, but then not feeling included. She said that coming together as a community and supporting one another starts with the individual.

“Diversity and inclusion are visions and values each individual needs to carry with them and keep in their consciousness as they interact with people every day,” Jin said. “The world would not be where it is today without the richness of diversity and collaborative efforts of everyone, of every background. Inclusion means showing support for events, movements, bridging the gap between international and domestic students and community members; and taking the time to understand and connect with someone who is different.”

As part of this initiative, a microsite, allin.psu.edu, was launched Thursday by WPSU, Penn State’s public broadcasting network. Along with a video highlighting the challenges students face, the microsite includes questions to foster discussions and a list of facilitators who will be available to lead conversations among students, faculty and staff across the University.

“You have all shown up tonight,” Russell said. “So, take a look around. Aren’t we beautiful? Aren’t we full of possibilities? Now take a leap into faith and see the beauty and the possibility in who we are. Together.”

Jin also called on the community to keep working toward these goals.

“We are making great strides to bring this community together, and although we may not see the results right away, we are gradually moving toward a vision of inclusion,” Jin said.

Events, conversations and activities will continue throughout the year. To learn more, go to allin.psu.edu. To learn about events, go to: http://equity.psu.edu/allin-calendar.

Last Updated December 12, 2016