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Letters from Leilani: Charlottesville Address

September 11th, 2017 by Leilani BaƱuelos

 

To the students, faculty, staff and administration at Biola University,

 

The Student Government Association of Biola University was founded and exists to advocate for and represent the concerns of undergraduate students at Biola. We are particularly aware of and focused on the great need to amplify the voices of marginalized students, including students of color, on our campus. We seek to do this through strategic partnerships with and support for departments and student run groups that provide programming and support for diverse students. This year, as your Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, my personal mission is to center diversity on Christ by offering practical ways to reconcile conversations of equity, inclusion and diversity with the gospel.

 

As we begin this academic year, I represent SGA as I seek to validate the condition of those who return to campus with hurting, angry, confused, and heavy hearts in regards to recent events in Charlottesville. I do not attempt to overshadow the celebration that comes with the beginning of a school year, but rather, as a leader within SGA, an organization dedicated to advocating for students, I am choosing to not invalidate nor ignore the honest climate of both our country and campus; I am choosing to call out evil and condemn it with love. The hatred that occurred in Charlottesville is something SGA does not condone and it is always our intention to make that known.

 

As we all may know, responding to injustice can have its challenges. As you begin to navigate these challenges and conversations surrounding Charlottesville, I encourage you all to first spend time in prayer before offering your perspective to others. Without wisdom from the Holy Spirit we are prone to respond with hate, anger and apathy. Further, it is important to recognize that another person’s hatred does not justify your own; practicing grace and patience breaks more barriers than you realize. Second, it is essential to acknowledge that you all house the divine authority of the Holy Spirit to call out your brothers and sisters in love when they are not abiding by Truth. Ultimately, as a representative of SGA at Biola, I want to communicate to you all that your pain is seen and it is validated. My heart breaks and laments with yours.

 

This year I will make myself available to all students who are seeking guidance or who simply desire to process through Charlottesville or anything diversity-related. I am determined to not only validate and empathize, but to also call out, build up, and challenge. I am praying that we as Christ-followers reach a place where we operate out of compassion rather than tolerance and are driven by Godly conviction. I have high expectations for what God will do in and through you all this year and I look forward to personally getting to know some of you. Blessings to you all.

 

Leilani Bañuelos

SGA VP of Diversity and Inclusion

Student Government Association 2017 - 2018

 
Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639
1-562-903-6000