Unity Week prevails despite setbacks


Faith Wilson, News Editor

Unity Week, hosted by the Student Government Association, is an annual weeklong event that works to bring together different student groups, clubs and organizations on campus as well as highlight their unique differences.

This year, Unity Week took place last week, and it was the first time Unity Week had been fully executed in three years.

However, there were many obstacles when planning the week, according to Derrick Gernatt, Student Government Association chief of staff and a senior accounting and economics major.

Normally, Unity Week would be planned by the SGA’s vice president of student experience over the summer, giving the vice president an ample amount of time to plan the week’s events and work with the Gannon staff in reserving a space and going through the approval process.

This year did not go as normal.

When the vice president of student experience stepped down from their position, Gernatt took over in August and had only a month to plan the event.

“The biggest issue was I would plan something but couldn’t get approval for it because it was during transition guide training,” Gernatt said.

This created many problems, such as finding a space not already booked on campus that was large enough to host the center piece of the week, Cultural Night.

This year’s Unity Week also coincided with Fraternity and Sorority Life recruitment as well as Alumni and Homecoming events.

With such a short notice, the only space available was the second-floor hallway in Beyer Hall and space above Doc’s Landing.

Along with the troubles booking a space, there was also the problem of people pulling out of the events midweek.

Despite the obstacles faced, Unity Week still came together in celebration of the university’s diverse student population.

On Monday, the SGA paired with Campus Ministry for a cookout.

The cookout was well-attended with over 600 students, exceeding prior expectations.

Tuesday’s event was the Career Fair, which brought 49 employers and universities for students to meet with to begin networking for a job and postgraduate educational opportunities and to learn more about many local and regional companies.

Wednesday night was Culture Night. Student groups and clubs in attendance were the African Student Organization, Black

Student Union, the French Club, the Indian Student Association, International Hispanic Association, the Global Student Organization and The Queer Collective, previously known as the LIFE group.

Between 75-100 students attended Cultural Night, which was a lot less than hoped for but far from a disappointment considering the circumstances.

The original plan for Cultural Night was to have a fashion show, such as the one hosted by the African Student Organization in the fall 2019 semester, during a dinner for students.

Each club or organization would be able to show off its culture through fashion or a similar display.

When this plan fell through, students were able to table their organization and talk to other students more intimately about their cultures.

Gernatt said the cultural fashion show idea is still in the works, as SGA looks to host the event in the spring semester under the supervision of the next vice president of student experience.

Caonabo Camilo, a junior psychology major and president of the Queer Collective, said it was nice to see such a diverse array of students at the event.

“Being able to interact with one another and just enjoy the uniqueness of everyone’s cultures was very cool,” he said.

“For having very little direction from those in charge of the event, I think we were able to pull off a pretty fun night for everyone.”

Thursday night was SGA Day and the Boards and Bonfire Night with Fraternity and Sorority Life.

The event was postponed on Tuesday due to the rainy weather.

The SGA hosted its event in Nash Library, giving away 250 Chick-fil-A sandwiches and bringing in a cartoonist.

Gernatt said that credit for bringing SGA Day together when plans fell through should be given to Dominique Booker, a senior accounting major and SGA’s vice president of finance, who “really came in clutch when we needed it.”

The Boards and Bonfire Night was hosted outside of North Hall where students could talk to members of Fraternity and Sorority Life and vote on their Homecoming boards that they made together.

Friday was Active Mind’s “Outspoken 3” event in the Zurn Science Center. Students performed their own written poems, furthering the discussion about mental health and their personal stories and struggles with it.

Daniel Baker, a senior social work and foreign language major, also performed a musical piece a at the event.

“’Outspoken 3’ was a great opportunity to be vulnerable not only with your own emotions, but with others in the room,” Baker said. “I was happy to share my experience through a creative lens that helps people to understand that they are not alone, even when it may seem like it.

“It was so nice as a senior to experience one last Unity Week and Homecoming that actually felt normal. With COVID, I wasn’t sure if campus would ever feel the same, but the love from the Gannon community can get through anything, and I think this year’s Unity Week proved that.”


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