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New mural shines a light on campus diversity

President Maurie Mcinnis cutting the ribbon outside of West Side Dining’s new mural Sept. 8. The mural is dedicated to the LGBTQ* community and represents Stony Brook’s ambitious future. MATTHEW WEIR/THE STATESMAN

A new mural showcasing campus diversity was unveiled on the side of West Side Dining on Friday, Sept. 8. 

Created by the newly-formed Campus Beautification Committee, the mural is dedicated to the LGBTQ* community at Stony Brook University. The piece is titled “Spread Your Wings,” and was painted by Stony Brook alumna Xiaohui “Katie X” Wang. 

“So this mural represents not only our inspiring past and our ambitious future, but also very much right this moment in time. Our ability to create a culture of togetherness and unity of this campus, a culture where all members of our community know that their unique experiences are valued and important,” Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis said.

The ceremony was attended by several other high-ranking members of the university community, including LGBTQ* Center Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs Maxine Moylan, a two-time alumna of the university. 

Moylan remarked on how the University has come a long way in making the campus more welcoming to all students, citing the lack of an official LGBTQ* Center when she was a student at the university. At the time, Stony Brook only had a small LGBTQ* Services office with “one student staff member,” Moylan said. It has since evolved into the LGBTQ* Center present on campus today. 

Mitchell Trinka, digital media manager for the university and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee, also spoke at the conference. He made remarks about those who had made the mural possible and the creation of a campus art initiative to install more pieces like the mural at Stony Brook. 

“Five years ago, I pitched this idea to a motley crew of campus social media managers,” Trinka said. “All I could do was dream of a campus art initiative. One that would not only help unify [the] campus, but give artists a legacy here at Stony Brook and propel them into their future dreams. After years of work, lots of late nights [and] extra hours in administration support, we’ve got a busy Campus Beautification Committee working on multiple student artists projects and placemaking pieces across campus.”

Isaiah Daniel, vice president of Student Life for Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government and a member of the Campus Beautification Committee, explained the creation of the mural was a collaborative process. 

“It’s kind of interesting, for projects like this, that we get some feedback [from students],” Daniel said. “[Moylan] was in charge of getting the words that were put onto the wall.”

The mural outside of West Side Dining titled “Spread Your Wings.” The goal is to signify Stony Brook’s efforts towards inclusivity. MATTHEW WEIR/THE STATESMAN

Moylan agreed that campus-community input was the inspiration behind the mural’s design, as she described a process in which the Committee considered what students would like to see when they returned to campus after the summer. The ultimate goal, she explained, was to have a design that signified Stony Brook’s efforts towards inclusivity. President McInnis backed this sentiment during her address. 

“Stony Brook is quickly rising to become one of the great[est] research universities,” President McInnis said. “But we’re also taking time and space to reflect on and celebrate the many diverse voices that create this institution.”

In the future, the Campus Beautification Committee is looking to install more art projects around the campus, such as sculptures and other paintings, according to Committee member and Senior Communications Manager for the Department of Finance & Administration, Lauren Candela.

“We’ve got two sculptures that are going into the library pretty soon,” Candela said. “We’ve connected with a couple other student artists, who are sort of pitching their ideas to us at the moment hoping to do some more outdoor stuff. We’ve got a gal who specializes in some sharpie type of design looking to do like an octopus over [at] the [School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences] Center. So we’ve got a lot of different things happening on different places in campus, as well.”

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Sky Crabtree
Sky Crabtree, Assistant News Editor
Sky Crabtree is an Assistant News Editor for The Statesman and a sophomore studying journalism and political science. He joined the paper in the spring of 2023 as a news reporter and was promoted at the end of the same semester. Outside of The Statesman, he works as a news intern for WSHU Public Radio and hosts "The Political Corner," a segment on the Stony Brook Media Group's news show.
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