It’s the time of year when we should have each other’s back.
Amid this holiday madness – finishing that project before you go on leave, looking for Christmas gifts, or booking a venue for that year-end family gathering – let us not forget the real deal: that this time of the year is all about having each other’s back.
December should be about solidarity, all thanks to International Human Solidarity Day.
Beyond the Glittering Baubles
University campuses, thriving hubs of varied perspectives and experiences, have immense potential to promote solidarity. Solidarity, as we all know, is the force that can dissolve boundaries and forge new ones. But how can we foster this sense of mutual support and commonality when faced with social pressure and constraints?
Solidarity: The Tapestry of Dreams and Challenges
Firstly, we need to recognise the challenges that necessitate solidarity on our campuses. Social and economic inequalities, discrimination based on identity markers, and the ever-present need to conform are some issues that isolate and marginalise individuals. This creates a fragmented and competitive environment.
But imagine a campus where staff, students, and faculty stand together against these challenges. Imagine living in a community where people value diversity rather than reject it. Imagine a society where collective actions pave the way for positive change.
That is the transformative power of solidarity.
Building Bridges, One Step at a Time
So how do we then construct this tapestry of solidarity? The below may help us move forward in this direction.
- Amplify the diverse voices at our campus by encouraging open conversations about campus issues. Let the marginalised voices be heard, and be respectful of these opinions.
- Engage in active listening by practising empathy and actively seek to learn the experiences and challenges that others in the community are facing.
- Promote collaboration across disciplines by encouraging cross-faculty projects and initiatives. Break down silos by addressing common campus concerns together.
- Celebrate acts of kindness, no matter how small, as this can inspire others to do the same.
Cultivating a Culture of Care
Building a campus of solidarity requires the conscious effort of everyone to create a culture of care. This starts with prioritising mental health and well-being, to foster a sense of belonging and celebrate the collective strength that comes from standing together.
These can surely transform our campus into a vibrant hub of solidarity – a campus where diverse individuals come together not just academically but to build a more just and equitable society.
Even small acts of kindness and support can ripple outward, creating a wave of positive change. Our compassion, understanding, and collaborative spirit can be the seeds of a just and equitable society, one that blossoms beyond the university gates.
This holiday season lets us at Swinburne Sarawak make ‘solidarity’ the most sought-after gift and the most powerful resolution for the new year to come.
This article is written in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Human Solidarity Day which is observed annually on 20 December. It is a day to celebrate our unity in diversity, to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity, and to encourage actions and initiatives that help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.