#WestmontWhiteJesus: Where do we go from here?
Views 55 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 24 - 2019 | By: Brendan Fong, Emily Mata, Olivia Stowell
Dear Westmont Community,
We have been heartened by the conversations on the public and private levels surrounding White Jesus specifically, and racial climate on campus generally. However, we want to ensure that this conversation does not die at the end of this year and and that our efforts can lead to systemic change that will improve the quality of life and education for Westmont students in the future.
After hours of thoughtful prayer, consideration, and conversation, we offer the following lines of inquiry to our community. We acknowledge that these are not the only routes to repentance and restoration on our campus, and some of these will take significant time to complete; however, these are our suggestions of potential routes for moving forward:
Active recruitment of faculty of color.
Accountability/oversight for syllabi in order to foster a diversification of perspectives, ideologically, racially, and
Requirements created so that Religious Studies courses must engage with Black and Majority World theologians.
Creation of a required GE category for racial education/awareness.
Creation of new courses specifically addressing race. The creation of a race studies minor or revival of the ethnic studies minor.
Engaging non-humanities departments to change the fact that almost all currently existing race education structures are located in the humanities.
More diverse chapel speakers, in terms of race, ethnicity, geographic location, and faith tradition.
Discussion of liberation and majority world theologies in chapel. discussion of racial justice issues, at times OTHER than focus weeks, or close to MLK day.
Increase the number of faculty/administration sponsored events focusing on race, racial justice, and diversity education.
Remove the image of a White Jesus on North America from the Voskyl prayer chapel, placing it in a space where it can be appreciated as artwork and contextualized.
Hire an official, third-party, trusted and paid commission (made up in majority by people of color) to examine Westmont’s structures and administrative processes.
Provide an update on the personnel search, post campus pastor decision to “[advance] Westmont’s diversity and global engagement goals from a biblical and theological perspective”
Require diversity trainings for all staff, faculty, student leaders, community life council members, and residence life members.
Construct an accountability system so that students of color can report negative racially charged interactions that occur in or outside the classroom.
Make changes to the Admissions system so that more high school students of color are encouraged to apply and are able to attend Westmont.
Hire admissions counselors of color.
Expand the Intercultural Programs office so that the burden of diversity education on campus does not fall on one individual.
Hire staff of color with social/critical consciousness for the counseling center. Train the current counselors in diversity issues so that they are equipped to deal with the unique intersections of race and mental health.
Hire more staff of color with social consciousness within Student Life. Increase hiring and recruitment of students of color in student leadership positions.
Change the conversation around how Westmont views activism and anger.
Re-open the chapel lawn as a potential protest site.
We know that as we pursue these lines of inquiry the intent of our institution — a “commitment to diversity in a biblical vision of God’s kingdom” — will be seen in the impact of our actions, in order to continue growing us into “a stronger, fuller and more discerning institution of faithful learning and learned faith.”