NIU students, faculty and staff are invited to join members of the DeKalb community for the annual Unity Walk which kicks off at 5 p.m. on Sept. 24. In its sixth year, the event brings people together to promote civic engagement, collaboration and positive change where they live, work and learn.
“This event represents our individual and collective commitment to building a community that values and celebrates different perspectives, ideas and cultural traditions,” Kelly Wesener Michael, NIU Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said.
The Unity Walk is hosted by the NIU Police Department along with campus leaders, the DeKalb Police and community leaders from DeKalb High School, Kishwaukee Community College and New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.
“The Unity Walk is a single but very important expression of our diverse community coming together in the spirit of peace,” NIU Chief of Police, Thomas Phillips, said. “Our unified goal is to bring everyone together – all ages, all races, all beliefs and all backgrounds – for a moment in time in harmony.”
Phillips said it’s been six years since Pastor Joe Mitchell of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church suggested the event as a way to unite the campus and community. The walk continues today as an opportunity to celebrate one another while making a difference in the civic life of the DeKalb community.
Following opening remarks at MLK Commons, the walk will proceed on Normal Drive to Lucinda Avenue through Greenbriar and back to MLK Commons. There will be people on hand to provide information and answer questions about the 2020 census and voter engagement.
“In 2020 we will have a presidential race as well as the 2020 census, both which will have a huge impact on our society,” said Meg Junk, Student Affairs program director. “We want to make sure that citizens are informed and prepared to participate in both.”
The census tracks the population of a town, city or state and designates resources for those populations based on the numbers gathered.
“For every Illinois resident that doesn’t complete the census we lose money that would fund social programs, financial aid and much more,” Junk said. “The number of residents in the state also dictates how many representatives we have in Congress.”
The date of the Unity Walk coincides with National Voter Registration Day, and NIU is using it as an opportunity to help attendees register for the upcoming elections.
“We need to be registered and voting in our local and state elections because these elected officials are the people that really make change in our own communities,” Junk said.
Parking is free after 4:30 p.m. in the Visitor Lot, the Parking Garage and the Campus Life Building parking lot. Go to Unity Walk for more information.