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HUNTINGTON — Marshall University kicked off homecoming week Monday with a celebration of the differences that make campus shine at the 8th annual Unity Walk.

Starting at the Rec Center, a herd of students representing the numerous clubs and student organizations on campus, including athletics, walked down 3rd Avenue and around to the Memorial Student Center plaza. The walk was led by the Marching Thunder drum line.

With divisiveness being felt across the country, College of Liberal Arts Dean Robert Bookwalter said it’s more important than ever to celebrate the diversity on campus.

“None of us grow without the contributions of others,” he said.

Student Body President Stephanie Rogner and Vice President Anna Williams echoed Bookwalter, saying the unity walk highlighted their community spirit while celebrating that community’s differences.

“But what brought us all together here is our love for Marshall,” Williams said.

Marshall softball coach Megan Smith said she chose to come to Marshall because of its family spirit.

“The family feel crosses all organizations, not just athletics,” Smith said.

Maurice Cooley, director of Student Affairs, said he thinks of the Unity Walk as a family reunion of sorts.

“I never imagined my family would be so big,” he said. “...We are your family. We will nurture you. We will support you. We will go out of our way to teach you. We will give you the skills to be the leaders of the world.”

The Unity Walk also featured introductions of the homecoming court. Mr. and Miss Marshall will be announced at halftime of Saturday’s football game.

Homecoming week continues with a full schedule of activities, including a campus office decoration contest. The theme of this year’s homecoming is “Marshall and Beyond,” aimed at celebrating the upward trajectory of the university. Sons of Marshall and NASA engineers Bob Lang and Gary Ray will serve as co-grand marshals of the homecoming parade, set for Thursday.

It all comes together Saturday at the football game against Western Kentucky University, at which the university has promised a ”historic” announcement.

Campus events are sponsored by the Marshall University Alumni Association, Student Government Association, Office of Student Activities, Office of Intercultural Affairs, Marshall Athletics, University Communications and various campus affiliates.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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