A Brief History of Elon’s Winter Term Diversity Tradition

Stephanie Hays

Winter Term at Elon is used as a time for the university to focus on diversity by hosting sessions, lunches, and activities for students to engage in discussions about the different facets of diversity and how it impacts students’ lives.

This year, the theme “The Difference Difference Makes” links together the events being held on campus, which celebrates human diversity.

Elon started having themed Winter Terms in 2000, naming the first one “The Millenium” after the end of the 1900s and beginning of the 2000s. 2013 became the first Winter Term to have a theme of diversity, with the name of “Learn. Engage. Appreciate,” after making a commitment to diversity in its long-term plans. 2013 also saw the start of many different events and courses with ties to diversity, including the multi-faith lunch series, and multiple notable speakers. Every year since, Elon has continued the theme of diversity during Winter Term.

A highlight of Winter Term is the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program, which features keynote speakers and a multitude of other events to honor his life and legacy over the course of the week. There is also a Humanitarian Essay Contest, started in 2001, was created to increase awareness for Dr. King’s vision of a more humane America and is open to middle school students in Alamance County.

The first Martin Luther King Jr. Day Event at Elon was held in 1979, and was hosted by the Black Student Union. Elon started an annual Commemorative Program for King in 2001. The first Commemorative program featured speaker Sir Walter Mack. Jr., a 1989 Elon graduate and pastor of Union Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

Other Winter Term traditions include Burst the Bubble courses, which began in 2007, and are relaxed, student-led classes. They’re held anywhere from one to four times a week, have no homework, and offer a chance for students to learn about topics that aren’t typically taught at Elon. The first year of Burst the Bubble had 12 different classes, and this year, there are 14 that cover topics such as modern cooking, virginity, water color painting, and the history of Nintendo.