On Thursday, November 10th, in the wake of the 2016 election, the inter-varsity club—alongside the St. Mary’s Black Student Union and Latinos Unidos—organized a march for peace and unity to reinforce the importance of community in a time of great divisiveness. The event began at 8p.m. at the Campus Center. The message was clear: all members of the student body were welcome to come and demonstrate the need for community support regardless of their political affiliation.
There was a significant turnout. Numbers swelled as passerbys stopped to watch before quickly becoming part of the event itself. Leaders of the clubs sponsoring the walk shared a few words, the sentiment being that despite the votes cast the on November 8th now is the time to come together and graciously and respectfully voice opinions. All of the speakers reiterated their belief that the walk was not a protest of the outcome of the election itself, but a demonstration of the solidarity between the members of the St. Mary’s community.
A poem by Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was shared, its message reemphasizing the need for all individuals to be positive members of their community regardless of one’s ideology. Candles were distributed to participants, creating a gentle atmosphere. The march concluded at the entrance of the Glendenning Annex where the participants shared a beautiful moment of solace and sang “Lean on me.” Once the walk ended, participants were ushered into the Glendenning Annex where they broke into small groups to discuss open-ended questions such as how to deal with those voicing differing opinions.
First –year Jared Oriole remarked that it was “great to see the school come together under the banner of unity, not the banner of a political group”.
This walk spoke to the underlying need to develop social capital in all communities across the nation, developing a web of connections that will survive the test of conflicting political opinions. The ideal of individuals coexisting peacefully regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and other differences is one that is not easily achieved, but events like this peaceful unity march serve as a reminder that mutual respect must be a part of the arsenal with which differences in political and social opinions are approached.