The Office of Inclusive Excellence held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Aug. 29 to commemorate the rainbow crosswalk in front of the Student Union. Roughly 50 community members attended the event, which also celebrated UB’s LGBTQ community and its value of inclusion.
This crosswalk, a student-led initiative located on Putnam Way in between SU and the Commons, was painted the weekend of Aug. 10.
Jared Strohl, graduate fellow with the Office of Inclusive Excellence, said this mural will allow students to feel a sense of welcoming and inclusion on UB’s campus.
“We're hoping also, there are some students that say, ‘What is that?’ And maybe that causes them to ask some questions and look into it,” Strohl said. “There could be students on campus that maybe aren't quite as aware that there are important issues surrounding the LGBT community and issues of feeling welcome on campus.”
Students bustled from tent to tent for free rainbow popcorn and rainbow cupcakes during the event, while others were excitedly dancing to celebratory music blasting from the speakers. Faculty members, including Provost Charles Zukoski and Vice President for Student Life A. Scott Weber, walked around with pride flags and bright feather boas around their necks.
Jack Szemansco, a freshman biological sciences major, said he felt a sense of safety and comfort when looking at the mural. He said events like the ribbon-cutting ceremony are important in celebrating differences on campus.
“I hope they see that this is a very safe place, that this isn't a place for hate,” Szemanso said. “It's important to celebrate differences, but also show that we're all kind of the same. We're all college students here. We all come from different backgrounds, but we're all coming here together.”
Izzy Ortiz, program coordinator for the Intercultural Diversity Center, was among the 13 ribbon cutters who said they believe UB is “taking the next step” in LGBTQ advocacy.
“I want [students] to see that UB accepts everyone,” said Ortis. “I want them to see that no matter their sexual orientation, or gender identity, that they are safe to be who they are.”
Alexandra Moyen is the asst. news editor and can be reached at Alexandra.Moyen@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @AlexandraMoyen
Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.