Listen. Dialogue. Change.
Our commitments and next steps
On Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, a group of concerned students released a video which presented concerns regarding race and racism at Andrews University, and included specific requests for a response from University administration. Since the release of this video, several steps have been taken, including conversations between students and administration and forums for employees and students. The following video was released in response by University Administration and was shown to students, faculty and staff in chapel on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.
If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed on this page, you can write to President Luxton directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to the above video being shared with the campus community, President Andrea Luxton spoke for the chapel event. The live recording of her presentation can be viewed below.
In an undergraduate chapel presentation and video shared on the Andrews University campus and through social media on February 23, Andrews University affirmed a series of commitments and next steps in response to the questions raised in an #ItIsTimeAU video released on February 18.
Additionally, some of these issues were also discussed in a speech of apology and reconciliation that was made by President Luxton on October 1, 2016, at a Lake Union Conference "A Journey to Healing and Understanding" event held in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
Those commitments and next steps are as follows:
- Andrews University will immediately begin a search for a full-time, senior-level administrator of diversity, a new cabinet-level position that reports directly to the president and will drive meaningful, visible and ongoing change. The plan is for this position to be filled by the beginning of the 2017–2018 school year.
- This senior-level administrator of diversity will develop and implement a revised and expanded cultural diversity training program. This training will be required and specialized for each group on campus: faculty, staff and students.
- Andrews University will continue to diversify our faculty, staff and administration in order to assure a high-quality education that prepares our students to serve meaningfully in a global environment. Our curriculum should also clearly reflect and educate students about our diversity. Regular online and campus reports will confirm progress towards these goals.
- Andrews University will have a strengthened grievance process that allows students to simply and directly report injustice and mistreatment of all kinds and to seek resolution.
- Andrews University will commit to honor, support and celebrate all the ways we seek and achieve community—including how we gather and worship together throughout our University family. Faculty, staff and the campus community will be encouraged to understand, respect and honor all the ways we worship.
Diving Deeper: Let's Talk About Unconscious Bias
Tuesday, March 7, 11:30 a.m.
Howard Performing Arts Center
We understand that not one person alive today took part in the invention of race and racism. We also acknowledge that it is the inherited responsibility of this generation to examine and respond to ways that we keep it alive. This session provides context for the fight for racial justice by people of color and provides evidence of why racial justice today is not about slavery but about current events. We will trace the journey of “race” from the 1600s to today through the fabric of our American foundation. We believe we can tell the truth, advocate for personal responsibility, and provide a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere for racial reconciliation.
Help Me Understand #ItIsTimeAU
Thursday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m.
Please text your questions to 269-281-4383.
This student forum offers the opportunity for Andrews students to engage directly with President Luxton and Provost Arthur on concerns expressed in the #ItIsTimeAU video.
How to Talk About Race Without Losing Your Cool
Sunday, Feb. 26, 8 p.m.
Meier Hall Chapel
This session will focus on helping participants think about the limitations they bring into the conversation about race. These limitations include: limited knowledge, limited understanding of one’s own emotions and an “all” or “nothing” binary on the definition of racism that largely leaves racism unchallenged. Finally, we will provide three actionable steps that participants can take today to have better conversations about race and racism.
The Emotional Side of Race
Thursday, March 2, 8 p.m.
Meier Hall Chapel
There are residual effects to the trauma we face. Experiences of racism and discrimination are often confusing and traumatizing. This also holds true when one is confronted with the possibility that you may be perpetuating racist stereotypes and prejudice. Cycles of internalization and perpetuation can be toxically embedded in our habits of relating. These cycles may result in shame, denial, depression, anger and blame. We will discuss how to recognize these cycles in ourselves. Although through our racial development these emotions are often normalized, we will explore the difference between guilt—which is negative and non-supportive—versus responsibility—which is both empowering and actionable. Finally, we will discuss ways of confronting discrimination that bypass emotional hijacking and are more likely to provide the results we seek. We can have a “what you did” conversation on race that does not constitute “all of who you are.”
Thoughts from President Luxton
The following message was sent via email to Andrews University faculty, staff and students on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017.
I trust many of you are experiencing some of the rest and restoration that can come with a three-day weekend.
I, along with our provost, Christon Arthur, wanted to write to you this evening, even before school resumes tomorrow, since I imagine many of you may have heard about or watched the #ItIsTimeAU video released over this past weekend. This letter is far longer than usual, but it regards something that is at the heart of our Andrews University community and the students, faculty and staff we serve. I invite you to take the time to prayerfully read and reflect on these words.
The #ItIsTimeAU video has struck a chord with many on this campus and beyond, and inspired a variety of passionate reactions from all corners, both on this campus and far beyond. In its first two days, more than 120,000 have watched the video on Facebook and listened to the concerns and expectations the video contains.
I wanted to share with you some of the ways in which Andrews seeks to respond to the questions and concerns of the video, and the realities and challenges of our diverse campus community. This community includes our African-American students who have often faced, and still face, systemic injustices and racism that significantly compromise their journey as part of this campus, church and global community.
Some responses to those concerns (both raised in the video and within our overall campus community) have been explored, and need to be fully and clearly articulated, with measurable next steps.
That has included an initial response from Andrews University to the Facebook post of the video, part of which appears below:
I don’t know if you had a chance to hear or read it before, but I spoke last October 1 at the “Journey to Healing and Understanding” event held in Berrien Springs in conjunction with the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (you can watch a video here).
In my talk that day, I reflected on some of the issues, challenges and apologies sought and needed in connection with our incomplete journey as a university as it relates to our African-American community.
Let me share part of my remarks from last October here. Speaking of Andrews University, I said:
“As an organization we have been guilty of racial bias, of making African-American employees and students feel ‘less than.’ We have not listened well. We have not been sensitive and have not taken action when action should have been taken. For that I am profoundly sorry. It is not good enough for us to see ourselves simply mirroring or being the victim of the challenges and conflicts of society at our point in history. As Christians, as Seventh-day Adventists, we must always have greater expectations of ourselves. We never have an excuse to devalue, make assumptions of another because of their race. We have no excuse not to be open to understanding our own sinfulness and bias as we ask God to ‘search us and see if there is any wickedness in us’ as the Psalmist expresses it.
“So African-American friends, fellow Christians, colleagues, I apologize to you for any experiences in the past where Andrews University has not treated you with the dignity, respect and equality which is your right. I do appreciate the title of this program, chosen by the Lake Union, and particularly the word, ‘Journey.’ I know sadly that we have not yet arrived at where we should be. But I can tell you that we are fully and unequivocally committed to continuing the journey towards healing, understanding and biblical justice. That will continue to mean educating more, listening more, being more vulnerable, and intentionally seeking increasing ways to dialogue. Our campus must ultimately be one of safety to all races, where meetings such as this one are not just gesture but meaningful occasions of ongoing reconciliation, healing and transformation.”
I, Dr. Arthur and the entire Andrews University community seeks to take and respond seriously to concerns like these at a school and within a community where God’s kingdom and His children are present, and the injustices of the past and present must continue to be understood and addressed.
As we respond, I invite you to join me at Undergraduate Chapel this Thursday at 11:30 a.m., either in person at Pioneer Memorial Church, or online at andrews.edu/livestream.
There is an opportunity for the faculty and staff community to meet and talk about these issues tomorrow, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. in Garber Auditorium, Chan Shun Hall. We are also planning a student forum along with other opportunities for student conversations later this week and beyond.
As appropriate, you’ll hear more about those meetings directly from our provost and Student Life team.
These are essential conversations for our community. Many other conversations, directly and with civility and respect, will need to ensue beyond our time together this week.
We invite your prayers and participation as we continue to seek to understand the pain that our African-American community has experienced and is experiencing, along with others throughout our community and world.
In the end, I am confident and pray that we will emerge from this current situation, a stronger, richer and better University. This is an opportunity for soul-searching and reflection—both corporately and individually.
A Request from Chaplain Price & Pastor Nelson
The following message was sent via email to Andrews University faculty, staff and students on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.
There has been much heart-searching this week as our campus has processed the #ItIsTimeAU video. A suggestion at today's faculty and staff forum in response to the message of this video is a good one. In addition to Dr. Luxton’s invitation to join her at chapel on Thursday for our continuing conversation, we would like to invite us all to set aside a day this week for fasting and prayer (7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 p.m. Thursday). Let us join together in seeking God for the guidance and wisdom, the correction and healing we need—so that we as a campus might reflect to the nation and world a portrait of His loving character.
You may choose to participate in one of the following simple fasts:
- Food Fast—partake of water and fruit juices only
- Partial Food Fast—partake of fruits and vegetables only
- Media Fast—abstain from using or viewing any forms of media
- Phone Fast—set your phone aside for 24 hours
The purpose for a day of fasting and prayer isn’t to impress God with our self-denial, but rather to remind ourselves of our earnest need for His healing grace and enabling wisdom. We believe the same Christ who calls us to “‘love one another as I have loved you’” (John 13:34) will lead us to the healing and unity we personally and collectively seek in answer to His prayer, “‘That they all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You—that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me’” (John 17:21).
University Chaplain, Andrews University
Dwight K. Nelson
Lead Pastor, Pioneer Memorial Church
A Message from Seminary Deans
The following message was sent to the Seminary faculty, staff and students on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
We feel the pain and frustration expressed in the #ItsTimeAU video put out this week and applaud the courage of the students who spoke up. Long-time structural challenges tend to become invisible and it often takes repeated and painful expressions before they can be fully addressed and dealt with. We appreciate the work that Dr. Luxton began last fall in her apology on behalf of the institution at the Lake Union “Let’s Talk” gathering here in Berrien Springs. We look forward to this apology being communicated more directly on campus and for further steps to be taken.
We at the seminary also want to continue moving forward with the work we have done with Dr. Moskala’s institutional apology on April 7, 2015, with the push for greater recruiting and hiring of African-American faculty which is now beginning to bear fruit, and with the plans of our newly re-formed Seminary Committee on Ethnocentrism, Racism and Social Justice. We are grateful for the suggestions made by students in our recent forums and look forward to putting more into place soon.
We welcome the suggestion of a manifesto for moving forward without delay, including diversity training for faculty and staff. Let’s join Andrews University faculty and staff for a day of fasting and prayer that our gracious and loving Lord can bring better understanding, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and right actions.
Dean, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Associate Dean, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary