In light of the recent swastika incident, we realize and acknowledge there are tensions that have arisen on our campus. Unfortunately, these tensions have existed for a very long time and are now manifesting themselves in new ways. However, in the midst of these tensions, when we hear stories of disparity (in this case, stories of racial disparity experienced by students of color), we should not ask ourselves whose fault is it, but rather as Christians, we should ask whose responsibility is it to create a more equitable and shalomic community. So let’s ask ourselves Biola students, how often do we respond to claims of “That’s racist!” automatically with, “You can’t prove that,” or, “Isolated incident,” or, “Well, that’s not necessarily true”?
The unacceptable and unfortunate tragedy of the drawing of a swastika on the dorm room door of a student of color and white student is not an isolated incident. Students of color experience micro and macro aggressions that are left unaddressed. These smaller incidents of racism in classrooms, dorm halls, and even in social events are overlooked or dismissed and lead to bigger events which could be prevented. The reality is that stories of pain and hurt being shared by students of color are too often viewed as an exaggeration or an attack on the majority of the student body. As a result, an event as horrible as the drawing of a swastika has occurred and now the continuous cry of many students of color are finally being heard. This has left a majority of the student body feeling the pain that some students of color have painfully become accustomed to.
“I wish I could say I was surprised. My three years on this campus, though, have made it impossible for me to feel surprise about racism—it happens all the time. Living in a community that treats you as less than and an outsider is detrimental to the educational success and overall psyche of students. We can no longer afford to struggle in silence.” -- Stephanie Lindo, Junior, Journalism Broadcasting Major
“I hope that this incident was a wake up call to the broader Biola community to realize that students are marginalized and racism does exists here, and I hope that we choose unity over division in this process of campus revival.” -- Lauren Hall, Junior, Journalism Major
"I really wish people would stop learning about racism from people who aren’t fully aware of it or don’t experience it. We keep elevating the perspectives of people that aren’t really qualified to talk about it.” -- DJ Cortez, Senior, Marketing Management Major
“If being followers of Jesus is in all of our interests, we ought to be seeking out the issue of racial tensions and how we might be involved; justice is an issue of the Kingdom of God and He is calling us to begin justice and understanding right now! Not caring hurts us all, not just the marginalized!” -- Melody Gurguis, Senior, Sociology Major
You, me, but why never we? Whether we understand our neighbor’s issue is not the point. The point is that our brothers and sisters are hurting and experiencing marginalization because of racial inequalities. As members of the body of Christ, each of us have an obligation to respond.
You, me, but why never we? The truth is, the majority white students have the privilege to choose whether or not to engage in this conversation, but students of color do not have the same luxury. Showing up to a prayer gathering, or attending a chapel on racial reconciliation, and yet still choosing to stay silent does not get us off the hook. We all have the responsibility to engage in the suffering of others.
This is our problem, and collectively we can solve it.
There are several ways listed below for how to be involved these next few weeks. As you consider participating, please prayerfully commit to dialoguing both during and after these events. Feel free to reach out to SGA with any questions, concerns, or comments.
All University Assembly and Day of Prayer (Metzger Lawn): May 4th at 9:30am
Understanding Race: Racism in Context (Fireplace Pavilion): May 5th at 7:30pm
Senate Meeting (SGA Conference Room): May 12th at 4pm Presentation of University Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion - Come hear from Vice Provost of Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, Dr. Pam Christian as she presents on the initiatives administration will be taking to create a more inclusive campus.
We understand that in the past, SGA (formerly known as Associated Students) has not done the best job in intentionally representing the needs of all students on campus, subconsciously joining other areas of campus in formulating this culture of ignorance in our school.
However, this year and moving forward as a new organization on campus, we as SGA want to renew and continue the strengthening of efforts towards not only racial reconciliation but also towards other areas of diversity and inclusion by advocating for all voices on campus and by being a go-to resource for all students on campus – not just the ones of the dominant majority.
Your Student Government Association
Below is just a summary of the various contributions and steps we as SGA 2015-2016 have made this year in terms of efforts to promote racial reconciliation:
Strengthened communication between SGA, faculty, and administration on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity through meeting student leaders of various diversity-related groups and initiatives and conducting more frequent talks between SGA and administration on such issues.
Initiated the first SGA Session during SCORR – a space where we had the opportunity to welcome other SGAs from other Christian colleges who visited our campus during the Conference and the opportunity to have a discussion (led by Biola Board of Trustee member, Adam Edgerly) about how each of us may be able to better diversity and inclusion efforts in the schools we represent
Expanded the role of diversity within our organization by expanding the Diversity Liaison department into a more structured Diversity and Inclusion Branch, which will include the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion along with a new position in our organization – the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator. This new structure will allow the VP of Diversity and Inclusion (formerly known as the Diversity Liaison) to have more influence on the executive decisions of our student government.