Blend promotes unity among students
By: Kelsey Kunstadt
A new student organization is making big strides at The University of Alabama. Blend focuses on uniting students and promoting diversity. Members of Blend promise to actively listen and respect others while encouraging diversity in the UA community. Blend seeks to increase dialogue among students, faculty and administration about social issues in order to move the UA community forward.
Blend was originally started to bring sorority women of different ethnicities together. It has transformed into an organization that brings diverse student groups together. A hand serves as Blend's symbol to represent the blend of identities and experiences people bring to UA.
"The pledge essentially says that you are making a commitment to increasing diversity on campus and taking everyday opportunities to blend," said Meghan Dorn, public relations chair of Blend.
President Halle Lindsay said Blend has exciting plans in store for campus this fall as they work to promote unity among students and campus organizations.
"Blend wanted to be sure to fill a gap, rather than redo a project. They help provide what is missing with all of the good efforts going on," said Lane McLelland, Blend's advisor and the director of Crossroads Community Center. McLelland said one of the main focuses of forming Blend was to take effective action and not duplicate an existing organization.
In order to promote campus unity, the organization sponsors Blend Days, come and go lunches open to everybody at the Ferguson Student Center every Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Blend Days provide students a welcoming space where they can sit down and eat lunch with people they normally would not interact with.
Blend partner's with the office of Student Leadership to host Pulse Check lunches each month, where students can interact with UA administrators. UA President Judy Bonner has attended Blend pulse checks. Bonner had the opportunity to learn more about Blend and its mission, as well as offered students and organization leaders the chance to ask advice and feedback of the president. Blend's recent pulse check was with Interim Vice President of Students Affairs Steven Hood and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Adam Sterritt.
Blend Nights focus on exactly what their slogan says, "Friending and Blending." The nights consist of both fun icebreakers to form connections and sustained dialogue to delve deeper into campus topics and issues.
"Blend has transformed into an organization committed to bringing diverse students and groups from all over campus together," said Haley White, former vice president and co-founder of Blend. White and three sorority members began the project in January 2013.
"We wanted to create an organization focused on the University community as a whole and stay away from classifying ourselves only by memberships in specific campus groups," White said.
The organization's current leadership has grown to eight members who are optimistic about Blend's future on campus. Blend also has an events committee and public relations committee.
In August, Blend hosted an event during Week of Welcome, "Blend into the Capstone," which provided transfer and freshmen students the opportunity to meet upperclassmen.
Blend also held another event on how to deal with stereotypes.
"So many stereotypes prevent intercultural relationships and therefore, prevent any type of exposure to people from different backgrounds, cultures, sex, race, religions, causing students to miss out on our diverse campus," White said.
Blend took part in the UA Feminist Caucus' Progressive Festival Event on Sept. 24. Fourteen student organizations including Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice, Black Student Union, Women's Resource Center, College Democrats and others came together for the evening. Halle said the goal of this event was to promote unity among all of the clubs.
"I'm excited about collaborating to improve involvement and bringing the campus together for good times, philanthropy, dialogue and community service," Lindsey said.
The next Blend night is scheduled for Oct. 14 with an emphasis on public relations. Halle said Blend wants to get more people attending events so they can continue to have a sustained dialogue.
"Blend hopes to continue to team up with other diverse clubs on campus: branch out, promote inclusiveness, not having to be a part of an organization," Lindsey said.
The Blend promise:
"As a member of Blend I promise to actively listen and respect others while encouraging diversity within our University community. I will seek creative ideas that ensure long-term sustainable change and acceptance that diversity over exclusion is the better choice to build a successful and thriving University. Our history of division has passed. I look forward to daily opportunities to Blend."
Learn more about Blend here: https://ua.collegiatelink.net/organization/blend/about
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