Unifying Lafayette: installation aims to create ‘unity on campus’

On the quad stands a circular structure with strings strewn across it, seemingly randomly. However, these strings are an opportunity for Lafayette students to unite through common connections.

The collaborative art installation is an effort by the Arts Society, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and LiveWell Lafayette to create “unity on the quad.”

Anyone can string colorful yarn from a center post around any of the 32 other posts. Each one has a quality that someone can attach themselves to. Some of the posts include “I love sports” and “I am a dog person.” The UNITY circle also features a chalkboard on the side of the circle for students to write in their own “I am…” statements that may not exist on one of the posts.

The UNITY project, however, is not unique to Lafayette.

According to the UNITY website, the project was created in June 2016 in Alexandria, Va., to counteract the divisiveness and negative rhetoric in American politics. Participants are supposed to think about the labels they assign themselves and others, and explore how that both supports and limits their community.

According to Allison Blatt, Director of Operations at the Williams Center for the Arts, the Arts Society has been looking for a large collaborative art project. They wanted to give all students on campus an opportunity to be creative.

“We brought this to campus because we thought it would work well as a physical reminder of our union as a community despite the challenges our campus has faced this year,” president of the Arts Society Matt Ackerman ’18 wrote in an email.

“[The Arts Society] is one of the largest student organizations on campus who all come from different backgrounds – so the project also acts as a reminder of our mission to be advocates for each other, the campus community at large, and the arts,” he added.

Looking forward, both Blatt and Ackerman would like to bring the UNITY project back to campus.

“We think UNITY might be a fine new campus tradition. We’d like to involve other groups in refining the list of identifiers, and encourage them to use the installation to launch discussions,” Blatt wrote in an email.

Students and members of the college community are encouraged to participate in the installation through May 10th. Students are also able to reserve the area for group meetings, discussions or other gatherings.

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