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Graduating seniors to receive unity cords from RRI, SGA partnership

Outgoing Student Body President Paige Shiring speaks at Reconciliation Day. She helped with the unity cord program (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)

Graduating seniors will have the opportunity to wear something unique at commencement next week.

TCU’s Race and Reconciliation Initiative (RRI) partnered with the Student Government Association (SGA) to award every graduating senior with a Unity Cord that they can wear at the graduation ceremonies. 

Paige Shiring, the outgoing SGA president, said it all started as an idea and an email from Dr. Frederick Gooding Jr., the chair of RRI.

“The unity cord initiative, an idea introduced by Dr. G., is a single graduation cord worn by the class of 2021 that serves as a physical reminder of all we have been through and that which is yet to come,” Shiring said at the ‘Reconciliation Day’ last week.

The creators hope that it can serve as a physical buy-in to what reconciliation looks like on TCU’s campus.

“Reconciliation should become a norm, not just a practice. RRI is not just an initiative, it’s all of us. This cord is a step in the right direction,” said Leslie Ekpe, the RRI graduate student representative.

There will be a video played at graduation educating attendees about RRI as well. Some students were not aware of the cord.

“This is my first time hearing about this. I wish we, as seniors, along with the rest of the student body knew more about its meaning so the message doesn’t get lost,” senior mathematics and psychology double major Mckenzie Washington said. “I just fear that it will come off as performative.”

Photo Courtesy of TCU’s RRI Website: Unity Cords

The color of the cords are red and purple. The red represents strength and resilience, while the purple represents TCU’s school color and pride each student possesses.

The two colors are intertwined to demonstrate how the community is bonded by the blood humility shared by all, in an effort to bring awareness to what true reconciliation means for the future of TCU.

“The cords hold a deeper meaning. This cord does not just resemble this year. This is the start of something embedded in our culture,” said Leslie Ekpe, the RRI graduate student representative. “Inclusive to all the communities we serve at TCU. Everyone has to put themselves to the side for the betterment of TCU.”

Along with representing a new step forward, the initiative wanted to provide something tangible for seniors to reflect on the trials and tribulations many have had to encounter within the past year.

Students had to deal with the pandemic, social justice issues and individual battles, so this cord is a representation of those lived experiences.

You can read more about the RRI’s findings and other plans for action here.

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