‘That’s the Kent State Way. Freedom of Speech. Kindness and Respect.’
Waving glowsticks, signs and rally towels, Flash and Kent State University Peer Success Mentors kept incoming first-year students hyped up with cheers, chants and “the wave” as they waited in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (MACC) for the day’s official festivities to begin.
A relatively new tradition on the Kent Campus, Convocation not only serves to get students excited for the start of their academic careers at Kent State but also to introduce the students to the deans and faculty for each of the university’s colleges.
After the Class of 2027 was introduced to the university leadership and faculty – appropriately welcomed into the MACC to Harry Styles' "Golden" – President Todd Diacon, Ph.D., spoke to the students about what to expect during their four years on campus, and what the university expects of them in return.
“I want to just begin by saying that I’m not a religious person,” Diacon began. “Maybe you are, and that is more than ok. Also, my religion is not Christianity but most likely your religion is Christianity and that’s more than ok. So, why did I just begin my remarks with these two observations?”
Diacon said he wanted the students to begin thinking about differences from the very start, “to get you thinking right off the bat at the beginning of your Kent State career about differences. To encourage you to become comfortable with being around people who are different from you – different in ethnicity, different in religion, different in sexual identity, different in place of origin and so on.
“During your time at Kent State I encourage you to engage with and embrace our university’s core values and especially these two core values. One – honor your right to freedom of speech; and two – practice kindness and respect in all you do. It is ok to think one way or another, even when other people think differently. What I am asking you to do is to embrace a spirit of kindness and respect when exploring and debating these differences. That’s the Kent State way. Freedom of speech. Kindness and respect.”
Following Convocation, the student body was led to a greenspace on campus by the Kent State Marching Band, where they took part in the annual tradition of forming a capital K, for a special drone photograph. The day's events were part of a full schedule of activities for new students in the lead-up to the start of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 21.