Stevenson University’s “Mustang Solidarity Pledge” is an initiative focused on ensuring that students, faculty, alumni, and staff of all backgrounds are seen, heard, and valued. It is a commitment “to work for inclusion, respecting the experiences and voices of others, standing up to injustice, and showing our solidarity with the marginalized,” as SU President Elliot Hirshman put it on Jan. 25, 2021 – just ahead of the Pledge’s official launch.
The Mustang Pledge’s debut came on Feb. 2, 2021. Cristina Garcia, Director of Stevenson’s Center for Diversity & Inclusion (CDI), spoke on the initiative’s focus. “[It is] an opportunity for us [at Stevenson University] to come together as a community to basically state what we believe when it comes to marginalized communities,” Garcia explained, “to stand up for justice and stand against hate.”
Indeed, such a public institutional push and commitment comes at a time when hate crimes and violence toward minority communities not only occur daily, but in increasing numbers and speed. In fact, research released in March from Stop AAPI Hate revealed nearly 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents were reported over the course of roughly a year during the pandemic. That statistic represented a 1,200-incident increase nationwide from last year’s (2020’s) total. And according to data posted by Statista last November, 4,930 hate crimes in the United States were committed based on a person’s race or ethnicity (overwhelmingly against African-Americans), followed by 1,745 hate crimes committed based on religious affiliation and 1,429 based on sexual orientation.
There is, in essence, an epidemic spreading wildly in the United States. One that is spreading faster, and with deadlier results.
These statistics, in part, were what sparked Stevenson University business communication senior Marriah Boyd, alongside fellow Mustangs Anye Wood and Marie-Clare (MC) Ofoegue, to create the Solidarity Pledge. “We had the idea of a student-led inclusive action plan right after the protests and riots of George Floyds death,” Boyd explained. “We thought that it was a really pivotal moment in time to create this pledge; it was time for our campus to really come together as one.” With Garcia’s guidance from the CDI, the Mustang Pledge was born.
Immediately, the SU community climbed aboard, garnering over 400 virtual signatures in the roughly the first month of the initiative’s existence. There are numerous video pledges on the initiative’s website as well, featuring alumni, students, faculty, and staff members alike – all speaking on the importance of the Pledge and necessity of supporting Stevenson’s diverse community.
Take the pledge and read about upcoming related events on the Mustang Pledge’s official website here.