“Together we stand, united we fall,” chanted the dozens of Oswego State students in the 4th annual ALANA Unity Peace Walk.
As students guarded their posters from the heavy rain, they walked from the Oswego City Hall on West Oneida Street to the Marano Campus food and activity Court. Program Director of the Latino Student Union, Ivanny Marcellinostates that the walk will help promote social change.
“The ALANA peace walk can bring change to our campus community because it promotes awareness about diversity.” said Marcellino. “It is really nice to see faculty here to support.”
Beginning in 1986, the multicultural organization, ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, and Native American), promotes diversity and cultural awareness on the Oswego State campus. In light of the organizations 28th anniversary, the ALANA organization hosted several educational programs that empowered students with unity and social understanding.
Despite the rain nearly washing out this year’s participants, Oswego State President Deborah Stanley explained that the ALANA Unity Peace Walk will bring a brighter future to the campus community.
“Anytime people can come together in a very open and viable way to show that they are together, that is a good thing for our campus community.” said Stanley.
Social media Director of the Black Student Union, Justin Mills, tweeted an update to the club Twitter page, @BSU_OSU, detailing the content of the protest. Mills explained that the ALANA Peace Walk will help unite minority students.
“My plan is to encourage diversity among the campus,” Mills said. “My idea is to bring everybody together, and to get my word out there, to help younger students get their words out there too.”
Tenisha Thomas, ALANA student representative and biology major, said that the ALANA Unity Peace Walk will help empower students of color.
“Here in Oswego, we are the minority,” Thomas said. “It feels encouraging when we try to unite on campus and [we] get everyone to do things together.”
Senior and human development major Natyia Campbell, hopes to use her voice as a tool for change.
“We are not mute. We are not silent. We are aware of what is going on and we have a voice,” Campbell said, waving a “Peace &“justice” poster in the air.
Despite the recent efforts to combat inequality in the campus community, students said that in previous years the off-campus community was less accepting of incoming minority students.
“I was walking in [the] Oswego community and someone came up in a car and screamed out the N-word,” senior Genesis Nery said. “It stunned me because I never experienced that.”
Nery is not alone. During the ALANA Unity Peace Walk, the LSU program director said she also faced racial discrimination during her first year.
“I tried to go to a party my freshman year and I was not allowed to go in because I was not white.” Marcellino said. “I didn’t recognize it was discrimination until I saw someone else go in. Discrimination still exists.”
Since 1986, the Oswego State multicultural student organization ALANA, has been a voice to over 10,000 minority students.