Proud of Our Legacy

Celebrating Diversity

Rollins | 1885-2010 | 125 Years

Rollins continues to build on its legacy by bringing the world—and a more diverse community—to its campus. This year, 154 international students representing 51 countries were enrolled at Rollins, and the College’s 15 thriving cultural organizations hosted events throughout the year celebrating diversity and inclusivity. Drawing on thinkers like Martin Luther King, Jr., students, faculty, staff, and alumni are actively engaged in realizing a vision of community, hope, and equality.

Three students partake in the MLK celebrations.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chinese New Year celebration. Photo courtesy of Multicultural Affairs.

Sharing the dream—A collaborative drum circle designed to unite community members through the power of music launched a weeklong campus celebration in January honoring the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and aimed at engaging members of the Rollins community in meaningful dialogue about race, community, and justice. A highlight of the celebration was a performance of “Colours of Courage,” a contemporary dance outlining the history of the African-American experience. Following the show, Rollins alumni Craig W. Johnson ’96 and Dario J. Moore ’96, who founded the first African-American dance ensemble in Central Florida, joined Director of Mulicultural Affairs Mahjabeen Rafiuddin for a talkback with the audience. MLK Week, which also included showings of documentary films, a day of volunteer work at Pine Hills Elementary School, and a poetry slam, came to a close at 6:01 p.m. on Monday, January 18, as community members gathered for a memorial and candlelight vigil to commemorate the time of King’s assassination.

Cultural enlightenment—In October, lights filled the Cornell Campus Center in celebration of Diwali. The Hindu festival, during which people light candles to signify their triumph of good over evil, is a time to remember those less fortunate and to unite people across religions and cultures. Rollins students celebrated the event by enjoying traditional Indian food, music, and dance.

International extravaganza—In November, Rollins participated in International Education Week, a national celebration of the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. Campus events included a Rollins World Cup soccer tournament, an Iron Chef cooking competition, a steel drum band, international dance demonstrations, Chinese acrobatics, and an international marketplace. Throughout the week, flags representing the countries of citizenship of Rollins’ international students were displayed on campus.

Voices for Women—Alumnae Anne Lacsamana ’93, Molly Talcott ’98, and Dorcas Gilmore ’00, who were instrumental in establishing feminist campus initiatives such as the student group Voices for Women, joined students Frankie Mastrangelo ’10HH, Shannon Frey ’10, and Lizzie Hovanetz ’10HH for a panel discussion in February. The conversation focused on the importance of educating about and supporting women’s issues and initiatives, both in and out of the classroom.

Students stand in front of the relief boxes they've packed to ship to Haiti. Photo courtesy of Multicultural Affairs.

Helping Haiti—Rollins Helping Haiti, a student-led initiative developed in response to last winter’s disaster in Haiti, hosted Our Hearts for Haiti Benefit Festival in February. The event raised over $4,200 for Partners in Health, a non-profit organization that has been working in Haiti for more than two decades. With the assistance of Change This World, Inc., festival participants compiled 5,000 relief packages with the potential to feed 35,000 people.

Interreligious dialogue—In March, the Multi-Ethnic Student Society (MESS), in conjunction with Hillel, hosted an interreligious dialogue which brought faculty, staff, and students together to discuss everything from interreligious marriages and relationships to religious and spiritual life in the Rollins community.

“As students of Rollins we have a responsibility to get involved in fundraising, education, research, and advocacy work in our global community not just today, but for the rest of our lives.”
—Katie Powell ’12


Women Playwrights’ Initiative named Rollins’ Department of Theatre & Dance the 2009-2010 winner of the Wave of Women Writers (WOWW!) award. The award is given to the theater company in Central Florida that produces the most plays written by women. This year, females wrote three of the seven plays produced at Rollins.

Taking back the night—The feminist student group Voices for Women hosted V-Week in March to provide a forum for students to address women’s issues and rights. Two benefit productions of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues collected over $1,400 in proceeds, all of which was donated to Harbor House of Central Florida, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children. Members of the campus community also participated in Take Back the Night, an international march protesting rape and sexual assault.

Week of action—In April, Rollins students participated in the 11th annual National Student Labor Week of Action to fight for jobs and the right to an education. With each day’s theme centered on a different form of oppression, including racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and abilism, the Week of Action at Rollins was designed to educate the campus community on how forms of discrimination interact on multiple levels, ultimately contributing to systematic social inequality.

Festival of colors—In April, the Desi Club hosted Holi, the Indian Festival of Spring, an annual event that brings together all races and social classes in celebration of the season. During this ritual, known as the “Festival of Colors,” friends and family cover each other in colored water and powder, which are believed to bestow good health.

Students throw colored powder in the air in celebration of Desi. Photo by Akin Ritchie '10.