Moving Mountains initiative hopes to bring students together

The student led program aims to promote inclusion and diversity

Roberta Marquette-Strain

The Western community has recently been making strides toward creating a safe and inclusive campus for everyone. One campus-wide program aims to promote these ideas by encouraging students to partake in conversations concerning race, sexual orientation, and other such topics.

The Moving Mountains initiative is a student led program created by members of the Student Government Association (SGA) and will be launching later this month. “We want everyone to feel welcomed and safe at Western, and to do that students have to understand what is going on with one another,” said SGA Flynn Guerrieri. “(Moving Mountains) will provide a place for students and faculty to talk about things that are difficult while feeling safe and comfortable.”

The idea for a program that promotes inclusivity came at the beginning of the school year. Terri Houston, a visiting speaker, had inspired the SGA to create a program that allows all students to feel welcome. Due to busy schedules, launching the Moving Mountains initiative was postponed. It was an incident in December involving discriminatory hate speech made by a student that reignited the program, reminding the students that Western is not exempt from these type of events and that there is still work to be done to create an accepting and understanding campus.

Moving Mountains hopes to achieve that by engaging in conversation with students. The program will host monthly meetings for people to attend to get their voices heard in a judgement free zone. The meetings will be open to people who feel isolated or want voice their concern about how they are being treated, as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about the hot-button topics and how they can approach them. “It’s a place where everyone is welcome and can express their opinions while learning at the same time,” Guerrieri explained.

The exact meeting times are still being planned, but to get the conversation starting, the program will be hosting an Inclusion Walk on Feb. 22 from 6-9 p.m. in the Field House. The event will allow students to learn more about Moving Mountains and will also showcase speakers, displays, and have games that are all focused on the idea of inclusion and diversity. Dean of Students Gary Pierson said that the event will “demonstrate the cohesiveness of our community and the support for it.” Guerrieri mentioned that she feels the event will begin to build a stronger community and is looking forward to seeing how the campus comes together for this event and beyond.