The Unity Gala is a formal event (black tie encouraged) that celebrates Illinois Wesleyan’s diverse campus community. Over the past few years, the Unity Gala has brought together more than 400 students, faculty, staff and alumni who walked the red carpet in a night of dancing and celebration.
My Night at The First Annual Unity Gala
by Kalen Gray
On Saturday, March 3rd, The Alliance, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and several cultural RSOs, hosted the first ever Unity Gala. This gala was developed to not only provide a place where everyone on campus could come together and celebrate diversity, but also to contribute to the BFSA fund. The fund was created to help provide scholarships and general financial support for students.
Let me describe the setting for you! The scene was amazing! Over 400 people attended. There was a red carpet when you entered Hansen Student Center, shimmering column chandeliers, a jazz band, tasty appetizers, and a dance floor. Men in suits and ties and women in their finest dresses and gowns were spread throughout the event, moving from person to person expressing their admiration for one another. Many pictures were taken, and many beautiful smiles lit up the night. People could not get past the lobby because of the heavy traffic from photos! Soon after the cool mood of the jazz band had passed, a DJ and his entourage showed up to provide the younger people in attendance the opportunity to dance away mid-semester stressors. The feeling was somewhat like a house party, but still a lot more chill, and warm in feeling. It feels funny describing it as that, but it is the truth. I think I smiled during the entire event and I cannot recall a time during the night that I was not filled with joy.
There was a palpable sense of community during the event. Being able to see faculty and staff in their best attire and away from the confines of a classroom or office was quite amusing. Seeing them all having fun and enjoying themselves reminded me that they are regular people just like me. Ultimately, that was the most unique quality about this event. Who knew that IWU needed a night of music, dancing, and fancy garments to evoke a deeper sense of community and connection within the campus community. I hope The Unity Gala serves as a catalyst for community building and embracing diversity on this campus.
Next year I hope that even more students, faculty, staff, and community members attend this brilliant event. It is important to remember that we are all living in the same community, but experiencing different things. The need for this kind of solidarity is urgent. If you were not in attendance this year, please come next year and bring your friends. The Unity Gala will only get bigger and better with time!
Special thanks to Jessica Sheelam, Crystal Ocampo-Fernandez, the Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the African Student Association, Black Student Union, Circle K, FEM: Equality Matters, the Muslim Student Association, Women of Color, i-Society and Student Senate- Inclusion and Awareness Commissioner for serving as sponsors or coordinators for this wonderful event!
Message from Walter Carter: This is the first time in a long time that I have been in a room full of love, joy, and happiness, seeing Illinois Wesleyan at its finest. Thanks to Liz Vales for her expertise, and the staff at the physical plant. I want to personally thank the Buck Library faculty for their support. Also, special thanks to the School of Nursing. We look forward to seeing you all next year, we are already in the process of working on next year’s event.
The Alliance assists current IWU students with mentoring and nominal financial needs. If you would like to contribute to this shared mission, please direct your donations to the Academic Affairs Restricted fun through the Advancement Office. If you have any events or information you would like to share with the Alliance, please contact Sharla Brown-Ajayi at email@example.com.