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Borough, Student Leaders Officially Unveil ‘You Are Welcome Here’ Banners

Student and community leaders teamed up Monday night to officially unveil the “You Are Welcome Here” banners displayed on light posts throughout downtown State College.

Borough Communications Specialist Douglas Shontz welcomed the community to the event before introducing State College Mayor Don Hahn.

“These are wonderful banners, and they certainly add to the festive atmosphere of an already-vibrant downtown,” Hahn said before thanking the University Park Undergraduate Association for sponsoring the banners and working with the Borough in its commitment to equity and inclusion. “…Our destiny is not to hide behind walls in order to feel safe. Our destiny is to build a better world together.”

Borough Council President Evan Myers described the progress State College has made over the past few years in condemning discrimination of all kinds, including the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza on Fraser Street and the establishment of an LGBTQ Advisory Committee for the Borough.

“The banners we celebrate today further the Borough’s efforts in ensuring that all residents and visitors to our community know that we affirm our commitment to all, to be welcoming to all, and to be inclusive of all,” Myers said.

Finally, outgoing UPUA President Katie Jordan thanked Penn State Global Programs and the students featured on the banners, who were present for the ceremony, as well.

“As Penn State students, everyone who is admitted here has a right to be here, and has a right to celebrate their successes here,” Jordan said. “Unfortunately, this can sometimes be harder for students who are not from this country and may not look like the ‘typical’ Penn State student.”

Jordan described the vibrancy international students bring to the Penn State experience, and how all Penn State students are stronger because of the diversity in State College.

“In a time that’s so uncertain in our country, and while hateful words are spread every single day, we want to make one thing feel certain in State College,” Jordan said. “Regardless of where you come from, you are here now, and you are welcome here.”

UPUA spent just more than $6,000 on 90 total banners, and has worked with State College’s Public Works Department on the project. Public Works said it hopes to have the banners hanging as much as possible.

“This is a fantastic example of the Borough and the UPUA working together to accomplish something positive,” UPUA Borough Liaison Jake Griggs said after the ceremony. “I was happy to have a small part in it, but it was all Katie Jordan. Hopefully the Borough and UPUA can continue to collaborate on projects like this in the future.”

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a senior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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