SQE plans Unity Block Party to promote diversity

In News
(Courtesy of SQE)

In response to Milo Yiannopoulos’ “Troll Academy” tour stop at Cal State Fullerton on Halloween, Students for Quality Education will co-host the Unity Block Party with multiple student organizations.

The Unity Block Party will be a peaceful event, according to the official event page, and will provide workshops, tabling organizations and speakers. Workshops will begin in the afternoon and continue into the evening when speakers and live music take the stage.

The workshops will be hosted by CSUF faculty members and representatives of local organizations covering topics including activism, raising transgender awareness and understanding the rights of undocumented individuals.

Elaine Lewinnek, Ph.D., a CSUF professor of American studies, will host a workshop titled “A History of Orange County Activism.”

The activity will highlight non-conservative activism in Orange County, which Lewinnek discovered when researching for her upcoming book.

Lewinnek decided to participate in the Unity Block Party because she said she feels students should have “alternative choices” to Yiannopoulos’ visit Oct. 31. She will also be tabling with the American Studies Student Association.

“I think what makes CSUF great is our diversity and our civil dialogue,” Lewinnek said. “I wanted students to have a chance for all of that.”

Following the workshops, the event will move outside to the Central Quad. The outside portion will have food trucks, a farmers market and a performance from local hip-hop group Weapons of Mass Creation and the Chulito Vinyl Club.

Several speakers are slated to appear, including California Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva and Jennicet Gutiérrez, an activist for transgender and immigrant rights.

Gutiérrez, the community organizer for Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, said she wanted to participate in the Unity Block Party because she is local to the area and aware of Yiannopoulos’ attacks against marginalized communities.

“To me it is important to be visible, to send a message that we are also part of the LGBTQ community,” Gutiérrez said. “Even though Yiannopoulos identifies as a gay man, we have our differences. To me, it is important to be visible and critical of the attacks.”

SQE member Liz Sanchez said the group is aware students may have safety concerns being in close proximity to the Yiannopoulos event, but wanted to assure students that plans are in place to keep the Unity Block Party safe.

Sanchez said there will be trained legal observers and police liaisons to de-escalate verbal altercations.

“If anything were to escalate, that’s when the police liaisons would get involved, and we would have police assistance,” Sanchez said.

Because the space for the event has been reserved by the [email protected] Student Psychology Association, Sanchez said the club can ask officers to remove confrontational people.

Despite this possibility, Sanchez hopes the event will inspire the community to celebrate diversity through education, art and food.

“We are going to contribute to something so much bigger than just our campus alone. It’s going to be very exciting,” Sanchez said.

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