UNH Celebrates Differences

Francesca Fontanez

The University of New Haven celebrated diversity, differences, and individualism more than usual on March 25, 2016, a day they deemed UNH Identity Day.

According to Kathy Kautz de Arango, Executive Director of International and Multicultural Programs and Service at UNH, it was a group of students and staff back in 2013 that came together, and developed the idea of hosting what was initially a “Diversity Fair.” The goal, similar to that of Identity Day currently, was to highlight all the diverse cultures at UNH through various events, discussions, etc. Currently in 2016, Identity Day still holds true to its origins, while simultaneously expanding the value. Identity Day’s meaning has evolved to include creating and maintaining an inclusive environment for everyone, as well as celebrating diversity. Topics discussed at each annual Identity Day include, but are not limited to, age, abilities/disabilities, gender, gender expression/identity, ethnicity, race, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, size, and socio-economic status.

This year, each discussion was facilitated by different Recognized Student Organizations with a similar objective; to promote and encourage acceptance as well as celebrate differences. The events held included “Music Around The World,” hosted by WNHU, “Celebrate Religious Diversity” hosted by SPELL, “Black and Latina Women in the Workplace” hosted by Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc., as well as “Exploration of Gender in America” hosted by PRIDE.

Josh Carbajal, a member of PRIDE, and facilitator of “Exploration of Gender in America” (alongside Dean Ric Baker) explained, “The events held on Identity Day were great ways to step outside of your comfort zone and learn about something new. There was a great array of events, and each one brought something new to the table.” Josh went on to discuss the different platforms used to educate. “ While the discussions all had thought-provoking topics, and undoubtedly opened the eyes of the people who attended them, the events involving music, food, and the movie were excellent ways for a person to broaden their horizons, and, hopefully, learn from their experiences.”

While the University strives for diversity, acceptance, and education every day, this specific occasion was undeniably a valuable learning experience for many. Kautz de Arango explained the importance of Identity day: to “endeavor to understand ourselves relative to our different identities and to embrace diversity because we are better together.”