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Unity Wing Welcomes Students of All Identities

Published on September 12, 2016

Unity Wing Welcomes Students of All Identities

The Arthur L. Johnson Unity Wing at Eastern Connecticut State University held an open house on Sept. 8 for the Pride Center, Intercultural Center and Women’s Center. Located on the ground floor of the Student Center, the Unity Wing’s three centers are designated spaces for students to develop and embrace their diverse identities.

“We’ve been focusing on intersectionality,” said Starsheemar Byrum, director of the Unity Wing, speaking to the goals of the 2016-17 academic year. “Intersectionality honors the fact that we have multiple identities.” The concept considers how these different identities — racial, sexual, religious and others — intersect and influence people and society.

Courtney Mayberry, graduate assistant of the Women’s Center, described the wing’s different emphases: “The Intercultural Center does a lot with diversity and social justice; the Pride Center is geared toward the LGBTQ+ community; and the Women’s Center is geared toward female as well as male and gender-nonconforming students.”

In addition to being safe and supportive environments, the centers organize and sponsor events. “Even though we all have our own specialties, a lot of our programs intersect,” said Mayberry.

“Students might feel, because of the different missions of the centers, that they are exclusive to certain identities of people,” acknowledged Byrum. But she assures that the Unity Wing’s resources and services are welcome to any and all students. “This is both a safe space and a brave space. A space for students to be empowered and to have those uncomfortable conversations.”

One of the biggest developments for the Unity Wing is the newly expanded Pride Center. The larger space has also been relocated, which better consolidates all three centers. “It’s in a higher traffic, more visible part of the building,” said Carolyn Taggart, university assistant of the Pride Center, who is already seeing a surge in student visits.

Integrating with the student body at large is an underlying goal, with all three centers utilizing social media and student ambassadors to connect with student communities across campus.

The Unity Wing is named after Arthur L. Johnson, former sociology professor at Eastern. A renowned civil rights activist and columnist, Johnson passed away in 1999 at the age of 81, and was respected for his compassion and vision.

For a list of upcoming events, visit

Written by Michael Rouleau