Week-long event encourages ‘allyship’

Zoe Thompson
Ally Week events will go on until Friday, April 17.

For the fifth consecutive year, NYU is hosting Ally Week from April 13-17. As can be read on the back of the striking gold T-shirts created for the event, Ally Week is working to promote “allyship,” described by organizers as “an active and consistent practice of unlearning and re-evaluating beliefs and actions, in which a person seeks to work in solidarity with a marginalized individual or group of people.”

Hosted and organized by NYU’s entire diversity team, including the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs and the LGBTQ Student Center, Ally Week 2015 is sponsored by 12 different offices and student groups on campus. Planning for the week-long event started at the beginning of the semester.

Administrative Chair for Ally Week Paulina Abaunza acknowledged NYU’s uniquely diverse campus that created the environment to host such an event.

“There are other Ally Weeks across the country, but it started at NYU,” Abaunza said. “We are such a diverse culture in terms of representation. We know diversity and social justice.”

Abaunza stressed the event’s commitment to not only broaden students’ perspectives but also instill a sense of proactiveness among students.

“The big message we are trying to strive for is the notion that allyship or being an ally is a verb, not a noun,” Abaunza said. “It is something that takes active participation. We want people to think about the specific steps that they will take in being an ally.”

Throughout the week, students have been able to attend “allyship” training in topics of diversity, ethnicity, class and spirituality. Ally Week has also incorporated a safe zone in which students with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities can collaborate.

SPS graduate student and volunteer Sumit Gupta stressed the week-long event’s positive influence on students.

“Ally Week is a great way in which students come together,” Gupta said. “They feel empowered as a community.”

To encourage a greater number of students to pledge as allies, Ally Week has added a twist to their online marketing technique by incorporating a photocampaign and
animal mascots.

“There are five different animals,” Abaunza said. “For example, the owl stands for having a commitment to educate yourself on allyship. On social media, people are changing their profile pictures and tagging their friends to show their allyship.”

With over a hundred students, faculty and administrators volunteers, the backbone of Ally Week has truly been the work of allies themselves.

Student Resource Center Program Administrator and volunteer Amber Lodman believes that the event helps not only students but also faculty to broaden perspective.

“Ally Week is important to me because, as a staff member at NYU, it’s really nice to have solidarity and unity exemplified through NYU’s programming,” Lodman said.“It’s important for students to consistently re-evaluate their beliefs and actions.”

As part of its long-term mission, Ally Week hopes to transform the conversation regarding diversity beyond the university and impact students in their individual lives.

“We hope each individual student takes what they have learned to their internships, future jobs, clubs or organizations,”Abaunza said. “We want students to work around allyship in their individual communities.”

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 16 print edition. Email Zoe Thompson at [email protected]

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