by Darren Squillace ’19
From now until Friday, March 16, you may notice a tree in the Slavin Atrium filled with dozens of paper leaves. This tree is not just for decoration; it is the Kindness Tree. The Kindness Tree is a collaborative effort between Student Congress and the Diversity and Inclusion Implementation Committee to help all students at PC feel both welcomed and respected here on campus. All of the leaves on the tree are filled with messages from students ranging from random acts of kindness, things they are thankful for, or just happy thoughts.
While it may be seen as simply a nice gesture to some, the tree is really part of a much bigger project that both Congress and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee are devoted to. Luciana Borrelli ’20, member of the Diversity and Inclusion Commitee, explained that there has been growing concern in light of recent events that have made some students here at PC feel unaccepted.
This tree, spearheaded by Borrelli and Sabrina Guilbeault ’18, is meant to spread kindness and love to all students, especially those who feel underrepresented or less included than others. The tree is also part of an initiative set forth by Dr. Bernice A. King in her speech on campus this past January advocating for a “beloved community.” More specifically, Dr. King’s vision calls for communities that embrace non-violence and unconditional love. The kindness tree is part of the school’s mission to accomplishing this goal, according to Borrelli.
A main concern, especially among those involved in Institutional Diversity, is that there is still no official executive position for implementing concrete policies of diversity and inclusion. According to Borelli, that lack of executive leadership will soon be eliminated. “We are currently in the process of looking for candidates to fill the executive position and will address diversity-related issues along with Father Shanley and Father Sicard,” she said.
Once this position is filled, there will be more initiatives like the Kindness Tree in order to put Dr. King’s words into action. As for the tree itself, it will be moved from Slavin Atrium after March 16 into its permanent home in Moore Hall. Until then, anyone who wishes to can stop by the tree this week to write a message on a leaf with a kind message meant for all fellow Friars to see.