By Lauren Minore
While protesters across the nation are actively fighting for racial equality, junior digital marketing major Alyssa Unciano hopes to promote diversity and inclusion on campus through an evening of fashion with the tagline: “Show off your cultural spirit.”
Drawing inspiration from these events, Unciano, the cultural chair of Student Entertainment Council, created the Rider Runway, a virtual event scheduled to be held on Sept. 18 through Zoom.
“As a person of color in a predominately white institute, [I wanted to] showcase a safe space for minorities to voice their opinions and….give students the type of representation they deserve,” she said.
Unciano was also inspired by an African cultural fashion show held locally at The College of New Jersey, to host one at Rider which showcased the fashion of multiple cultures.
“The students at Rider are passionate about fashion,” Unciano said. “I wanted to give them a platform to express themselves.”
The Rider Runway will follow the format of a traditional fashion runway, but incorporate some pageant-style elements, a nod to the career of the event’s celebrity host, former Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg.
At first, Unciano said that she struggled to find a host until one of her friends said she went to high school with the former 2017 Miss New Jersey USA.
Unciano said Verg was a perfect fit because “she is a person of color, speaks about colorism, and was a representative of New Jersey.”
Cynthia Ozurumba, a junior health science major, felt proud of her friend, Unciano, for highlighting different cultures and looks forward to attending the virtual event.
“I believe that the runway will be a great way to showcase diverse groups on Rider’s campus,” she said. “Having spaces that [Unciano] is creating, it’s something we need to see more on campus.”
Ozurumba said that she is not only excited to support her friend, but to see different groups of people wearing outfits that represent their culture.
“I like that they will be able to showcase [their attire] with pride, and also have some information with that, it’s a learning experience as well.”
As the campus community adjusts to the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ozurumba said that she understands many student organizations are “trying their best,” although they are facing new obstacles.
“It is going to be hard to get as many people online, people are more likely to attend and participate [in person], it is the best we can do, it can bring the community together.”
Unciano echoed a similar sentiment, and said that given the event is virtual, “a lot of people are going to watch,” rather than partake in the fashion show. However, Unciano said students are welcomed and encouraged to participate.
“We want as many people as possible,” she said. “I want it to be [several] different cultures, that is the purpose of the show,” she said.
Student Entertainment Council is still seeking participants for the Rider Runway event, which will be held on Sept. 18 via Zoom. Contact Alyssa Unciano at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.