The entrance to the Unity College campus in Unity. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

UNITY — Community members and Unity College alumni plan to gather Saturday to show affection and support for the school following the recent announcement its main campus might be sold.

The gathering — a “walk on, sit in, show love” — is planned for the Field of Dreams, which is owned by the college. The campus at 90 Quaker Hill Road is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jodie Thompson, a 2004 Unity graduate and one of the organizers, said in an interview the idea was put in motion last Wednesday. 

“Everyone felt such pain and loss that the school may be sold. We all had serious feelings about it,” said, Thompson, 38, who lives in upstate New York. “I wanted to make sure we could get together and express those feelings in a positive way.”

Unity College officials said sale of the campus, while not certain, is possible as the school transitions to a hybrid learning model that emphasizes remote, decentralized learning.

Penny Picard Sampson, a 1990 graduate and chair of the Unity Board of Selectmen, said she will “make an appearance” at the event along with another member of the board.

“I think attention needs to be drawn to it so the powers that be at the college realize how important the ‘Unity’ in Unity College is,” Picard Sampson said. “I don’t know how much the college will actually take out of it.

“I think it’s very important to show support to the alumni and current students, who want to maintain a physical campus in the town of Unity.”

Thompson said she reached out to the school and asked if alumni could visit the campus. She said she was told that was “not a possibility at this time.”

The school is aware of the planned gathering and has no problem with it, according to officials. In fact, Melik Peter Khoury, the college’s president, offered the Field of Dreams as a venue for alumni and local residents to meet.

“We have spoken to some of the individuals leading this event on Saturday, and while the campus itself is closed to the public due to COVID-19 precautions, we have allowed this group to enjoy the Unity College Field of Dreams in a peaceful way while observing safe COVID-19 practices (social distancing, face masks, gathering size and proper hand hygiene),” Unity College officials wrote in a statement.

“We understand the residential campus means a great deal to our alumni. It does to all of us. We are hopeful that the plans we have for its continued viability will enable all of us to enjoy it well into the future.”

Participants are encouraged to bring their own refreshments and spend as much time as they want at the “free-flowing” event, Thompson said.

Hauns Bassett, a 1997 graduate and Unity resident, said he cannot make the event due to a work conflict, but is actively promoting it on social media.

“I support this 100%,” said Bassett, 46. “In these uncertain times, I want the college to know that I care as an alumni, and I want the town to know, too.”

Thompson also heard of some graffiti and other damage to the school, which prompted her to organize the gathering. She said she was unsure how many people will attend.

“It’s open to the community, as well, because, honestly, it’s to support the school as well as the town,” Thompson said.

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