Campus ‘Unites’ through the convocation ceremony

Convocation started fall semester with a strong vision and call to action. On Sept. 6, students, faculty, staff and members of the community gathered in the Fieldhouse to mark the beginning of Whitworth’s 123rd year.

Starting with a bit of humor, President Beck Taylor poked fun at his recent surgery.

Referring to vice president for student life Dick Mandeville’s role, Taylor said, “He has one job today, if I fall he is supposed to catch me. So be ready.” Taylor recently had surgery on his achilles tendon and was on crutches.

President Beck Taylor spoke from James 2, stressing that good intention and a clear mission are worthless without action.

“Whitworth’s mission is alive and well but there is still more to do,” Taylor said.

Speakers Minh Dang and Associated Students of Whitworth University President Molly Hough expanded on the theme of service, connecting it to Whitworth’s new campus initiative Unite.

Dang is currently a doctoral student at University of California Berkley and a prominent voice on the topic of human trafficking. The MSNBC documentary Sex Slaves in America details her experience as a sex slave, being trafficked by her parents until she was 20 years old. She now travels around the country speaking on the topic of human trafficking.

“Today I am not voiceless,” Dang said.

The issue of human trafficking is not only an international issue, she said. “Operation Red Light,” an effort by Spokane police, busted several brothels in Spokane earlier this summer. Airway Heights police, in conjunction with the Spokane police department, raided eight suspected brothels. The locations masqueraded as health or day spas.

“We don’t believe that anyone is going for a legitimate massage. We have not found any typical massage-type equipment in these spas,” Lee Bennet, Airway Heights police chief, told the Spokesman-Review.

Dang encouraged students to take action and to speak up.

“Educate yourself on the stuff no one wants to hear about. Social justice work is down and dirty,” she said.

She also shared the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) with students to use if they suspected someone of being trafficked or had questions.

Hough continued with the theme of James 2 and restated that without action words are pointless.

“Conversation and dreams and visions without action is nothing,” Hough said. “Change does not happen individually but collectively. There is power in numbers and there is power in passion.”

After Hough’s speech, Mandeville announced two memorial awards. The Jef Olsen Memorial Award was given to Angeles Solis, Jack Dunbar and Hough. The Daniel Burtness Memorial Leadership Award was given to Samuel Abbott and Kayla Anderson.

Caitlyn Starkey Staff Writer

Contact Caitlyn Starkey at cstarkey14@my.whitworth.edu