Mercyhurst community commits to hospitality

“In the spirit of the Mercy tradition, I affirm hospitality as a personal response that comes from the belief that every person is a treasure …” so begins the “Commitment to Hospitality” that Mercyhurst College faculty, staff and administrators will be invited to pledge in the coming days.

Students were first to sign the pledge cards, a sweeping campaign begun by the Division of Student Life that sprung from comments made by Dr. Tom Gamble in his recent inaugural address.

“Mercy hospitality goes beyond tolerance in much the same way that Mercy itself goes beyond justice,” Gamble said in his September 16 speech. “While we say we want tolerance, what we really crave from one another is not mere tolerance, but a warm and understanding hospitality.”

As students began signing the pledges last week, the movement gained momentum with faculty and administrators seeking an opportunity to become involved.

At the helm of the initiative are student life vice president and assistant vice president, Dr. Gerry Tobin and Laura Zirkle, respectively; along with Dara Zirkle of the residence life and student conduct office.

“This represents our endorsement of a commitment from the top, which is very much in keeping with the college’s mission and the tradition established by the Sisters of Mercy,” Laura Zirkle said.

The Commitment to Hospitality is also in keeping with the college’s growing diversity as a global community with well over 200 international students from 37 countries studying on the Mercyhurst campus this year. Among the countries represented are Afghanistan, Bolivia, Finland, Ethiopia, Peru, Nicaragua, Sweden, Ecuador, Vietnam, Mexico and Uganda.

The pledge affirms each individual’s commitment to work toward overcoming their own biases, setting a positive example for others, speaking out against injustices, and fostering a hospitable place for all. Completed pledges will be displayed outside the Residence Life Office on the third floor of Old Main.

In addition, Residence Life will introduce the second annual “Stop the Hate” poster contest in the winter term. Last year’s poster contest received more than 30 submissions. The winning poster is in the process of being printed and will soon be displayed proudly across the campus.

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