Human chain unites NIU

By Mark McGowan

Students, faculty and staff joined hands Tuesday to form a human chain stretching from the Martin Luther King Memorial Commons to Graham Hall in the Sigma Chi-sponsored Hands Across Campus.

Ed Joy, Sigma Chi scholarship chairman, said the event gives people a chance to get involved on a “first hand basis” during Unity in Diversity Week.

Joy said the fraternity has gotten support from NIU administration, including NIU President John La Tourette’s office and Peggy Sullivan, dean of the college of professional studies.

“NIU has been fantastic,” Joy said.

The line, consisting of mostly greeks and faculty, joined hands and sang along to “We are the World,” broadcast by WLBK radio. People in the line encouraged passers-by to join them.

“You are a part of history,” Z. Ahmad, University Programming and Activities coordinator, told the crowd. “This is an emotional moment.” Ahmad cheered the crowd on and encouraged them to sing along with the radio.

La Tourette and DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow took part in the event and made speeches afterward.

“I’m more than happy to do it,” Sparrow said. “I support what they’re doing—it’s a worthy goal and cause.”

Sparrow said he was “impressed” by the human chain. “We have a lot of diversity in students,” he said. “There’s strength in diversity, not weakness.”

La Tourette said he was “very pleased” with the turnout for the event. “This symbolizes our committment and recognition of differences,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything like it before.”

Joy said he did not know if the fraternity will sponsor an event similar to Hands Across Campus next year.

“This might be a good one-time bang,” Joy said. “We’ll wait and see.” He said too much repetition of the event might lead to “overkill.”

“We’re hoping to get as many people as possible,” Joy said before the event. He said the fraternity advertised through the radio, greek houses and other campus organizations.

Joy named Jim Lauber, Ahmad, Lu Ann Yun, Amy Gaull, Janel Stanciu, the Sigma Chi fraternity and the NIU grounds crew for their help and support and the ROTC for providing first aid for the event.