GC faculty addresses letter to students

Riley Mills

Staff Writer

romills@goshen.edu

Cases of racial injustice on college campuses have rocked the nation this year.

Violence towards black lives by police officers, the killing of nine black parishioners in Charleston, the escalating mean-spirited political rhetoric against minority faith traditions and immigrant populations, along with instances of misguided speech and prejudice, even on a peace college campus like Goshen’s, motived many faculty and staff to sign an open letter affirming their stance on these issues to GC students.

Faculty and staff were invited to sign “An Open Letter to Our Students from GC Faculty and Staff,” shared via Google Docs, in support of a students who encompass a set of values
and beliefs.

Students received the letter in a Communicator announcement on December 4, following the publication of a similar, Student Senate-authored statement on November 30, titled, “An Open Letter to the Goshen
College Community.”

The letter from the faculty to GC students reads:

An Open Letter to Our Students from GC Faculty
and Staff

As faculty and staff who are committed to social justice and equity in our research, teaching, and mentorship, we have observed the recent wave of student protests for racial justice on college campuses across the U.S. with great interest and concern. These actions include the meetings and statement made by students at GC in the last couple of weeks. We want to reaffirm our commitment to creating a campus environment in which all students can thrive.

We stand with you, our students, and particularly students of color, who are speaking up for a better GC. We stand with students, faculty, and staff at the University of Missouri and at the many, many other colleges and universities as they protest against racism on their campuses.

We recognize that issues of institutional racism are pervasive. We stand with the many former, current and future GC students, faculty, and staff who have and will continue to speak up and act courageously to close the gap between GC’s ideals and our lived realities on campus. We respect your voices and experiences as students. As faculty and staff, we recognize the leadership roles students and youth continue to have in the most important social movements of our time. We are here. We are ready to listen, work with, and support you in your efforts to make GC an institution that is truly welcoming and nurturing for all.

The document received over 120 signatures.

Administrators and staff found it necessary to let students know that they stood in solidarity with them in challenging the Goshen College community to better fulfill the mission of being the intercultural community the college strives to be.

“Some of us faculty felt that we needed to respond [to students] and let them know we heard them,” said Jan Shetler, professor of history and a faculty originator of the letter, “Students should get a response and know what other people are feeling.”

Shetler, as well as Jim Brenneman, Goshen College president, said this is an
ongoing effort.

“Through our Intercultural Awareness Committee made up of faculty, staff, administrators and students, we are organizing a series of campus-wide conversations around difficult discussions of difference—called 3-D events—be those racial, religious, gender, political or cultural differences,” said Brenneman.

Brenneman also said that student diversity has more than tripled in the last ten years, where 40 percent of incoming first years were of minority cultures. Though this is no small feat, the college now hopes to mirror that diversity in faculty, staff and administrators.

“The primary reason I signed onto this open letter was because I wanted to say ‘we are all in this together,’” said Brenneman. “We all have things to contribute to creating the beloved community of Martin Luther King,
Jr’s dream.”

Record
Written by Record

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