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Efforts to Address Racism on Campus and in Our Communities

September 10, 2020
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Dear Whitworth community,

As fall classes begin, I want to address two very important questions that are central to Whitworth's mission and identity: How can the university continue to make progress in addressing racism on campus, in our communities, and in our country, and what strategies and actions can we take together to ensure that Whitworth University is an anti-racist institution?

Whitworth's commitments to anti-racism originate from our commitment to Jesus Christ and the good news that Christ is reconciling the world to himself (Colossians 1:20). That reconciliation includes the destruction of sinful thoughts, behaviors and systems that subjugate and brutalize other humans who are made in the image of the Creator (Ephesians 2:14). These truths are outlined in Whitworth's Christ-Centered Rationale for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

The history and causes of racism in this country are long and complex, and a liberal arts institution in the 21st century should focus a considerable amount of its energy and resources toward educating students about these important facts. Although Whitworth cannot single-handedly turn the tide of racism, nor can it control all of the factors that lead to the destructive outcomes caused by racism, the university is responsible for engaging students and employees, and the wider community as it can, in education and action aimed at bringing about more justice and equity for all persons of color and minoritized groups, especially for those who call Whitworth their home.

This summer's racial violence and protests have once again, and appropriately, brought these festering issues to our collective consciousness, and with them, a new and energized resolve to ensure that we seize this moment in history to make real and lasting changes in the ways we think and act. To that end, beginning in May after the killing of George Floyd, Whitworth's administrators and faculty leaders convened important conversations to determine our responsibilities as educators. Conversations with student leaders began, and these efforts have yielded timely strategies and actions to address racism on our campus. These conversations, which should include all of us, will continue this academic year.

Although the list of strategies and actions we are employing is too long to include in this email, I want to draw your attention to the commitments we have embedded within Whitworth's Diversity Action Plan, a plan that was launched several years ago and is monitored and updated annually. That plan includes three major goals:
  • ​​Develop and implement professional development and training in intercultural competency and inclusive excellence for faculty and staff in order to promote a safe, affirming and welcoming campus climate;
  • Develop and implement strategies for effective recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff from underrepresented racial/ethnic populations and historically marginalized and/or underserved groups; and
  • Develop, implement and assess curricular and co-curricular strategies to advance student learning outcomes in the area of intercultural competency development.
These goals have animated much of the effort and work the university has done for the past several years to address the issues about which we care so deeply, and these pillars will continue to guide our efforts into the future. A longer list of specific strategies and actions was developed this summer in consultation with students and faculty, and that list will continue to evolve as more people come to the table to give input and perspective.

You can find a list of many of those strategies and actions by visiting the university's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion webpage. Additional resources were compiled this summer, and those resources can also be found on the DEI webpage here. Importantly, more communication about opportunities to engage with and inform these efforts will be announced in the coming days and weeks, and they will be organized and hosted by a variety of campus offices and student groups. I encourage you to be involved and to add your voice. The only way we can make real and lasting change is if we do it together, as one community united to make a difference.

The lives of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters do matter. Their lives matter to us. Their lives matter to God. Thank you for all of the ways you will support these efforts, and for the ways you embody Whitworth's mission "to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity" by resolving to make changes now.

Grace and peace,

Beck A. Taylor | President