The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia emphasized the necessity of a student pledge, according to junior Zoe Burton.
Burton, alongside students Lisa Camp and Brennen Almus, crafted a student pledge promoting acceptance, respect and inclusion.
“I’m black, I can’t change that. I can’t change who I am,” Burton said. “That’s why I’m taking this pledge, because I’m included and I’m making a promise to respect other peoples’ cultures and their identities on top of mine because if I can’t accept myself, I can’t be accepting of others. That’s the important thing for me.”
Burton is the Ambassador for Student Inclusion with the Student Government Association. She wants students to hear about the pledge, investigate it and become a part of it. Her interest in writing the pledge emerged from hearing students are not feeling included on campus. She said creating a comfort zone where students are able to respect each other’s differences will allow for more conversations and better relationships.
The idea of creating a pledge emerged after the presidential election results last November. The university held a town hall meeting in order to discuss how to react to the results with the student body. The students and the university wanted to ensure safe spaces and acceptance on campus, according to Almus.
This pledge is to create a framework of what Webster stands for. The group of student writers drafted the pledge throughout the spring semester and finalized it in the summer.
Diverse events on campus are not enough to promote inclusion, Burton said. She said the student body as a whole needs to change and take a stand on the values Webster prides in. Burton said the pledge is centered around the Webster student community from a student perspective.
“I wanted to do this to give us a starting point and motivation,” Burton said. “This is our commitment to Webster saying we’re going to take action to push and strive to be the inclusive community we want to be.”
The group of student writers presented the pledge during New Student Orientation (NSO) the week of August 21. They conversed with new students and their families about the qualities of being a global citizen.
Almus said taking the pledge means a student is being an active listener and accepting others with the goal to learn and grow, not offend and exclude. As a senior, he wants to ensure new students follow the qualities of the pledge and exemplify them. Both Burton and Almus said they want the pledge to last for generations to come and have a lasting impact.
“[What’s important is the] responsibility in the pledge. The statements are “I” statements,” Almus said. “They are statements that you are being responsible for your actions essentially and you are going to promote what you believe Webster should be.”