Taking Strides To #StandTogether

It’s no secret that 2020 has felt like an endless rollercoaster only going down. But within the chaos, it's also brought change and growth. Light has been shed on so many significant topics throughout these times, and history is happening right before our eyes. As a result of all the social unrest currently surrounding our country, Student Government has started a new campaign called #StandTogether. The goal of the campaign is to actively work against discrimination and hate crimes on campus. 

UCF is home to a diverse group of individuals coming from every corner of the world. With that being said, 2020 has been a year in which we've faced a devastating health crisis and extreme social injustice. At the beginning of the year, COVID-19 didn’t seem like a threat to us. Even when we left for spring break, none of us expected to stay home longer than a week. However, after months of uncertainty, COVID-19 changed the lives of all Knights. On top of that, we're facing discrimination against minorities. With the recent events surrounding police brutality, the social injustice people of color face in this country is clear. As a result of these deeply rooted issues, many of our students have been personally impacted. 

black lives matter protests Photo by Clay Banks from Unsplash

As a Hispanic student here at UCF, I’m so proud to be a part of such a diverse group of individuals, and right now it’s extremely important to stay informed and stand together. This is where Student Government comes into play. Daniella Lopez, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, has begun a campaign called #StandTogether. Due to the discrimination that many students have faced, the campaign was started to create a safe space for our community and to help others stay informed. 

Each month the campaign has a new theme that focuses on different topics. For the month of October, the theme was surrounding COVID-19. They hosted three different events to speak out and raise awareness on this subject. The first event was The Forgotten Nurse's educational workshop, a collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAC). During this workshop, they talked about xenophobia, Filipino nurses, their roles and how COVID-19 has impacted them. 

A vector illustration representing the Earth wearing a mask. Photo from Pixabay

The second event was also an educational workshop with the Latino Medical Student Association, called "Latinos Stand Together Against Covid," and it featured UCF sociology professor, Dr. Angela Vergara. The workshop began with a run-through of COVID-19 and the current status of it. They also spoke about how it's affecting minority communities, specifically the Latin community. The last event they had was a handwashing event called "Washing Away COVID," where they partnered with wellness and promotion services. They created a station where students could wash their hands to promote sanitation because, despite Florida being in phase 3, our COVID-19 cases are still on the rise. And if there's one thing that will stop the spread, it's properly washing our hands and using a mask.

Although this year has brought many hardships, it has resurfaced many issues that have been kept under the rug for far too long. From COVID-19 being blamed on Asians to the injustices people of color face every day, these are racist issues targeting individuals based on the way they look. Change needs to happen, and people are taking action by using their voice. Locally, at UCF, Student Government is doing its part in bringing awareness to a variety of topics. The #StandTogether campaign is creating a safe space and a platform for our community to talk about their struggles and stay informed.