Toreros embrace their voice during march

Students gather together for the March of the Toreros


Photo Courtesy of Forest Lieberman

Photo Courtesy of Forest Lieberman

The University of San Diego prides itself on its diversity and inclusivity, and in honor of Diversity Week, Torero Program Board (TPB) organized “March of the Toreros”. The march began from the SLP where sophomore, TPB Multicultural Coordinator  Nour Suleiman and senior, AS President Katie Coutermarsh presented speeches on the importance of inclusion within members of USD’s campus on Thursday, March 10.

“As president, I think it is a very exciting time and it is a celebratory event to celebrate the diversity we have,” Coutermarsh said. “But I think it serves for us to look inward at this diversity we have and be honest with ourselves about where we can make strides.”

The walk from the SLP to the KIPJ consisted of performances from various groups of the Worldbeat Center with live music provided by members from Senegal, Egypt, and the Caribbean. Toreros engaged in conversation as they eagerly walked down the hill to a special presentation from John Loggins and senior, CJ Taylor, along with complimentary food from a variety of cultures as a reflection of the diverse Torero community. Students proudly walked with posters and flags representing their affiliations and appreciation toward the theme, “Embrace your voice”.

Junior Steven Ingard acknowledges that the initial draw might have been the free food, but believes that the groups were also there to show their pride to the rest of campus.

“We join groups to feel involved, give our part, and show others what we do,” Ingard said. “That’s what’s so sick about our campus because it is small enough where you can enjoy the time with your friends but it is big enough where you are able to see and meet new people every day. Like Katie said in the opening presentation, you can’t just go abroad and join the external influences; you have to do an immersion on campus.”

The March of the Toreros was a step forward for the community of USD to continue engaging in conversation to have a better understanding of others’ perspectives. Sophomore Chris Haines was among the many Toreros participating in the walk on behalf of his fraternal organization Beta Theta Pi and shares what he thinks was the purpose of this event.

“I think to foster more participation and awareness for diversity at USD, since it has been lacking in the past,” Haines said. “There has kind of been a riff between campus organizations, so this is a good way to bring everyone together. When it comes to certain on-campus events such as this, I think there are people here because their organizations told them to be. But it is a good way to start because the more you get people out the first time, the more they start to actually believe in what they are attending.”

Last fall, a group of students brought forth a list of 20 demands to the Intersectional Council (IC) upholding various changes for diversity and inclusion on campus. It was an action in which these students embraced their voices as individuals advocating for change and a more inclusive community. This march helped exemplify the importance of conversing with various groups on campus to foster a culture centered on empathy and inclusion.

Coutermarsh understands that inclusion and diversity are ongoing processes that will need to be worked on continuously.

“I think it is interesting the way the theme of this week is embrace your voice,” Coutermarsh said. “What we saw in the fall semester really was organic student voice from the demands to the responses in our Yik Yak forum to different conversations that were happening on campus. No one was really driving that. Yes, there were national events bringing it to light, but that was students saying we are going to respond to this and here is what we need in order for this university to improve.”

Coutermarsh comments on how as a leader of the student body, she too is constantly improving herself as an individual.

“When I speak outwardly about the university it causes me to be more reflective in my own life of what I am doing,” Coutermarsh said. “I am very conscientious about what extra efforts I am going toward to meet new people and step outside my comfort zone or friend group that is already established to share new perspectives and learn more.”

In the midst of any animosity, at the end of the day, the goal of the USD community is to show mutual respect for those who live lives differently than oneself, as well as be able to acknowledge the genuine humanity within each individual. This event encouraged Toreros to embrace their voice and take a stand for what they feel passionate about.