On Tuesday, November 14th, the Kansas State University community came together to “live out loud” the values that make K-State such an extraordinary place. As the nation’s first operational land-grant university, Kansas State was founded on a vision of knowledge and education for all, and the #KSUnite walk was an important time to gather—at this time, in this place—to affirm our commitment to equal opportunity, learning, and service to the common good.
“We are a community of learners. So when we don’t understand—we pause, we listen, we learn—we continue to become the community we are meant to be, that we must be, for one another,” said Dr. Mary Hale Tolar, Director of the Staley School of Leadership Studies.
Below is some reflection on our pause to walk together, listen to one another, and learn how we can continue the walk together as one K-State family.
A group gathered to make the walk from the lobby of the Leadership Studies Building to Anderson Lawn. Similar groups assembled from all across campus, as students, faculty, staff, and community members joined us to wear purple, embrace one another, and walk together towards the future we want for our university.
Watch the #KSUnite program, which was streamed live in the video above. Speakers included: Jack Ayers, student body president; Darrell Reese, president of the Black Student Union; Mary Hale Tolar, Director of the Staley School; Tanya González, professor of English; Rev. Troy Bowers; and President Richard Myers.
“We will not let others define how we—faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends; our K-State community—define us and our values,” said K-State President Richard Myers. “That’s up to all of us.”
“This spot where we gather is where we have marked our university’s 150th Anniversary. It marks our history of living out the values of education and service to the common good. It marks our legacy of contribution to the democratic ideals of We the People—here people hold the power and we also hold the responsibility.” -Dr. Mary Tolar
Upon conclusion of the program, opportunities for further discussion were held at the Student Union. Check out the schedule and facilitators (including many from our leadership studies community) here. These breakout sessions sowed the seeds of collaboration that will take place as K-State continues to move forward. Read more in this article from the K-State Collegian.
And, as Darrell Reese states in the conclusion to his speech, “K-State Family, it’s time to get to work.”
Continuing the Walk
Our mission as a Staley School of Leadership Studies is tied inseparably to Kansas State’s mission as a land-grant university. Just as K-State must continue seeking ways to serve and enrich our state and our society at-large, the Staley School must continue “developing knowledgeable, ethical, caring, inclusive leaders for a diverse and changing world.”
The leadership we are working to develop is precisely the kind of leadership that will be required if we are to work together—across all lines of difference—to engage and build the future we want for our university, our community, our state, our country, and the world.
We hope you’ll join us as we continue this walk, together. In addition to exploring ideas around inclusion through our leadership studies coursework, the Cats for Inclusion campaign has fostered engagement from across the university to host dialogues, share stories, and create collective action around issues of diversity and inclusion at K-State. Established in 2015, these efforts continue to grow and engage more students every semester—including a new event this year that brought together 350 first-year students (including many from LEAD 212: Introduction to Leadership Concepts) and 60 facilitators (made up of faculty and upper-level students) for a dialogue which resulted in powerful storytelling that helped promote understanding and begin a conversation around how they can help foster an inclusive learning environment starting with their very first semester. Stay tuned for future opportunities to engage with Cats for Inclusion on Twitter, using the hashtag #CatsForInclusion or by staying in touch with us on social media!
“We are daily invested in a process of learning, growing, and becoming,” said Dr. Tolar. “Becoming that more perfect union that our country demands.”
“Because when we don’t, we risk our very purpose as an institution of higher learning. The stakes are too high, and the outcomes matter. There is too much in the world calling for us to be who we aspire to be—who we know we can be. Today we are answering the call to be better, to not be silent, to live our values, and live them out loud.”