Two local residents who wish to remain anonymous have donated $25,000 to support the creation of an annual West Virginia University Community Human Rights Film Festival aimed at raising awareness and responsiveness to human rights.

The endowment will underwrite the costs of the festival that will focus on social justice attentiveness and human environmental interaction concerns.

The WVU Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Morgantown Human Rights Commission will cosponsor the festival.

Similar to other universities which conduct annual human rights film festivals, the WVU Community Human Rights Film Festival will present critically acclaimed films addressing diversities of local and international human rights concerns.

WVU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion David Fryson says the WVU Community Human Rights Film Festival will enhance the diversity efforts underway and help to build a more inclusive community.

“The West Virginia University Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is honored to receive this generous endowment that will allow us to cosponsor the Human Rights Film Festival,” said Fryson. “We are grateful for the generosity of these two wonderful donors and hope this is just the beginning of these types of contributions on behalf of our diversity effort. We look forward to developing a great film festival.”

Organizers hope the festival will benefit students, community members of all ages, and many area organizations stimulating increased awareness of social justice and human environmental interaction.

Don Spencer is a past chair of the Morgantown Human Rights Commission. He believes understanding basic human rights and the diversity of people is important for a better future.

“The ability to understand, respect and support basic human rights and diversity in people never has been more essential to the future of our country and our world,” said Spencer. “The human rights film festival can be an important means for helping people on campus and in the community become more aware of human rights issues and the challenges which people living in various situations face every day.”

Spencer is hopeful that exposure to human rights issues will have a positive impact.

“Hopefully, seeing provocative films and learning from each other will help more of us respond – with greater savvy and compassion,” said Spencer.

Films will be presented on the WVU campus or in a community location, and events will include opportunities for campus and public dialogue on the subject matter.

The WVU Community Human Rights Film Festival endowment was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.



CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation

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