Campus Members Imagine World as One
By Kelly Saavedra
At the invitation of President Subra Suresh, members of the Carnegie Mellon University community gathered at The Fence on Friday, Oct. 14 to reflect on and informally discuss global issues of concern, including race relations, inequality, xenophobia, hate crimes, sexual violence and the current nature of U.S. political discourse.
“There are many venues in which you gather to talk about these issues already here on campus. And there will be many more that provide for addresses, panel discussions and structured activities,” Suresh said to the crowd of nearly 200. “Our purpose today is simpler. We come to stand together as a community … to talk with one another about what is on our minds and in our hearts.”
Students handed out plaid lapel ribbons on cards printed with the lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and all were invited to sing with senior musical theater major Arica Jackson, who was accompanied by Professor Gary Kline from the School of Drama.
A brass quintet from the School of Music also performed, featuring Jake Boca and Zach Marino on trumpets; Michael Ross on trombone; John Caughman on tuba; and Rana Jurjus on French horn.
“To support each other in this time of political and social unrest is much needed,” Jurjus said. “We understand that music has a power that touches people in a way different than words can, and we just wanted to help out however we could.”
Gabby Perez-Lozano, a first-year student from Texas, would normally be in class at noon on a Friday, but her sister encouraged her to attend an earlier lecture to make time for the gathering and get in touch with more people in the community.
“Even if you don’t know the people that these issues affect, they do affect people around you. And being in touch with them is really important,” she said.
Emily Wazlak, who is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy, took time from her busy day to be there.
“I just started at Heinz College. I guess I’m curious to get to know a little bit more about what the campus dialogue and general community sense is for this,” she said.
Amal Nanavati, a computer science and global studies major, said he and his friends often have discussions about changes they’d like to see happen on campus.
“This is one of the lowest-barrier-of-entry ways to talk to members of the campus community. We can get each others’ views, share ideas, and hopefully some action will come out of this that will strengthen us as a community,” he said.
Gina Casalegno, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, was among university administrators who joined the conversations.
“I think it’s an opportunity for the community to demonstrate to one another, drawing from all corners of campus, that we care about one another and we care to learn from one another’s personal experiences here at Carnegie Mellon and in the context of the challenges we face in the world today,” Casalegno said.